Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, who served as chief of staff to Colin Powell during his tenure as secretary of state, tells ABC News that former vice president Dick Cheney "fears being tried as a war criminal."
The suggestion from Wilkerson coincides with the release of Cheney's new book, In My Time, which came out on Tuesday.
Wilkerson signaled to Democracy Now! that he believes Bush administration officials should be held accountable when it comes to matters such as the authorization of warrantless wiretapping and the use of harsh interrogation techniques for terror suspects.
"And I’d be willing to testify, and I’d be willing to take any punishment I’m due," he said. "And I think that explains the aggressiveness, to a large extent, of the Cheney attack and of the words like 'exploding heads all over Washington.' This is a book written out of fear, fear that one day someone will 'Pinochet' Dick Cheney.'
(Augusto Pinochet, former Chilean dictator, was arrested for war crimes.)
Last week, Cheney predicted "there [were] gonna be heads exploding all over Washington" upon the release of his book.
"That's quite a visual," Powell said last weekend of the former vice president's choice of words. "[It's] the kind of headline I would expect to come out of a gossip columnist or the kind of headline you might see one of the super market tabloids write. It's not the kind of headline I would have expected to come from one of the vice presidents of the United States of America."
Cheney writes that he thinks Powell tried to undermine Bush by criticizing administration policy to people outside the government.
While Cheney writes that Powell's resignation was "for the best," Powell signaled he had always planned to leave the administration after the 2004 election. He suggested Cheney is almost condescending in his remarks about Powell's successor, Condoleezza Rice.
Wilkerson told ABC News, "From what I've read, Cheney seems to criticize everyone, including President Bush, Condoleezza Rice, Colin Powell, [Deputy Secretary of State] Rich Armitage, and a host of others except himself." He added, "Waterboarding is a war crime, unwarranted surveillance... all of which are crimes. I don't care whether the president authorized him to do it or not, they are crimes."
Below, video of what Wilkerson had to say to Democracy Now!.
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