Wilkerson: Torture in U.S. Facilities Probably Still Going On; Cheney Laid Groundwork


Former State Department Chief of Staff Lawrence Wilkerson, who spoke at the New America Foundation several weeks ago, deepened his commitment to truth-telling about the administration’s role in promoting torture and abuse of detainees under American control.
According to a CNN report:

A former top State Department official said Sunday that Vice President Dick Cheney provided the “philosophical guidance” and “flexibility” that led to the torture of detainees in U.S. facilities.
Retired U.S. Army Col. Larry Wilkerson, who served as former Secretary of State Colin Powell’s chief of staff, told CNN that the practice of torture may be continuing in U.S.-run facilities.
“There’s no question in my mind that we did. There’s no question in my mind that we may be still doing it,” Wilkerson said on CNN’s “Late Edition.”
“There’s no question in my mind where the philosophical guidance and the flexibility in order to do so originated — in the vice president of the United States’ office,” he said. “His implementer in this case was [Defense Secretary] Donald Rumsfeld and the Defense Department.”
At another point in the interview, Wilkerson said “the vice president had to cover this in order for it to happen and in order for Secretary Rumsfeld to feel as though he had freedom of action.”

I admire Lawrence Wilkerson for many reasons — mostly for his forthrightness and honesty about these very heavy, complicated issues — but also because he is not only speaking to the American media but is spending considerable time talking about these matters to the international press, which usually are not given the time of day by major American national leaders.
I think that it’s important that Wilkerson speak to the European, Japanese, Chinese, Latin American, and Middle Eastern media — because his doing so demonstrates the importance of government transparency — and the fact that the Bush administration is not monolithic; that there are others with views about the world and America’s place in it that are not comfortable with the concentration of power, secrecy, and suspension of American norms in war that Cheney and Rumsfeld have promulgated.
— Steve Clemons