Wilkerson dishes truths on Gitmo, Cheney

Mark Boyer

In the must-read column of the week, Lawrence Wilkerson, Colin Powell’s former chief of staff, wrote a short essay appearing in The Washington Note, depicting the utter incompetence with which the Bush administration set up the unlawful detention center at Guantánamo Bay. Wilkerson resigned in protest in 2004, and he has since been an outspoken critic of detention and interrogation techniques at Guantánamo Bay and in Iraq. Some of what Wilkerson writes is in response to Dick Cheney's incendiary CNN interview. He too warns of future terrorist attacks, but he finds that Cheney's actions and rhetoric are what put the country at risk, accusing Cheney of "assisting" terrorists with his recent fear-mongering. One of the more provocative passages from Wilkerson's Washington Note piece is below, but the whole essay is worth a read. [T]he ad hoc intelligence philosophy that was developed to justify keeping many of these people, called the mosaic philosophy. Simply stated, this philosophy held that it did not matter if a detainee were innocent. Indeed, because he lived in Afghanistan and was captured on or near the battle area, he must know something of importance (this general philosophy, in an even cruder form, prevailed in Iraq as well, helping to produce the nightmare at Abu Ghraib). All that was necessary was to extract everything possible from him and others like him, assemble it all in a computer program, and then look for cross-connections and serendipitous incidentals--in short, to have sufficient information about a village, a region, or a group of individuals, that dots could be connected and terrorists or their plots could be identified. Thus, as many people as possible had to be kept in detention for as long as possible to allow this philosophy of intelligence gathering to work. The detainees' innocence was inconsequential. After all, they were ignorant peasants for the most part and mostly Muslim to boot.

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