November 12, 2005
Dubya: the buck stops there
A former top official in the Bush administration is suggesting that a White House memo outlining the need for hundreds of thousands of troops for the Iraq invasion was kept from the president. Lawrence Wilkerson, who served as chief of staff to then-secretary of state Colin Powell during President Bush’s first term, said in a November 7 speech that the National Security Council had prepared a pre-war memo recommending that hundreds of thousands of troops and other security personnel were needed. “I don’t know if the president saw it,” Wilkerson told the audience of military officers and international lawyers, who had gathered at the military for a conference on on international humanitarian law. In response to a follow-up question after his speech, Wilkerson, a retired U.S. army colonel, said he believed that then-national security advisor Condoleezza Rice or her deputy, Stephen Hadley, had blocked the memo, but he acknowledged that he had no clear evidence. In the end, about 135,000 U.S. troops were sent - a decision that critics said has hurt America’s ability to defeat the insurgency in Iraq and has led to increased American casualties.
… “This was not a ‘troop estimate,’” Wilkerson said of the alleged NSC memo, in an e-mail to the Forward. “It was a comprehensive analysis - succinct to be sure - of the potential post-war situation, which incidentally, as one would expect, included estimates of security, engineer, police, and other forces DOD might have to provide, as well as those of other agencies/departments (at least that’s my memory of the preliminary stuff).” Wilkerson added, “The reason I suspect it got stopped is simply that they knew [Cheney] and [Rumsfeld] dissented strongly and did not want to reopen that box of worms.”
Right. Wilkerson also has plenty to say about Abu Ghraib:
Just before the infamous pictures from Abu Ghraib were made public, Wilkerson recounted, he was ordered by Powell to assemble a comprehensive paper trail because “this would be big.” Wilkerson said that when the president outlined in a memorandum that prisoners should be treated humanely in accordance with the spirit of the Geneva conventions and in conformity with U.S. values, he and others in government and the military took it to mean that U.S. troops were told to treat detainees in a decent manner. “But this is not what I saw in the paper trail with regards to the office of the vice president and the Pentagon,” Wilkerson said, adding that he had returned the documents to the State Department upon his retirement earlier this year. “They really pushed the envelope.”
Yes, they did.
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