A senior member of the Bush administration, as well as what the Obama White House press secretary calls the "Republican cabal," has just defected.
Lifelong Republican, and chief of staff to former Secretary of State Colin Powell, Lawrence B. Wilkerson, stepped forward in a blog post on Tuesday to say not only that there are still innocent people being held at the detention camp at Guantanamo Bay, not only that we've been holding innocent people there for more than six years, but that the U.S. government has known all along that they pose no risk to national security.
Wilkerson told the Associated Press that he was informed by briefings, and military commanders, that big brass knew those captured had nothing to do with Al Qaeda, or the so-called war on terror, but held them anyway as information-gathering tools for a so-called "mosaic " of intelligence.
Moreover, Powell's former chief of staff insists that the process by which these "enemy combatants" were so designated itself was shabby and incompetent, and that those sent to Gitmo weren't properly "vetted" before they were hauled off to Cuba. Pakistanis, Wilkerson added, often acted as bounty hunters, securing as much as $5,000 a head.
While human rights groups, and others, have speculated for years about the dearth of bona fide terrorists at Gitmo, the information Wilkerson provided this week was classified until now.
The former chief of staff to Colin Powell acknowledges, too, that both Rumsfeld and Cheney knew innocent men were being detained as enemy combatants, without charges, were held indefinitely, and they did nothing about it as "to have admitted this reality would have been a black mark on their leadership" which only goes to show that while there might be innocent people left at Gitmo, there aren't many left in our nation's capital.
According to Wilkerson, fewer than 10% of the 240, or 24 men, who remain at the detention camp, in Cuba, can be considered a security risk, yet a former vice president, Dick Cheney, would aim to convince us that releasing even a single detainee would increase our terror threat. Didn't the fact that half of the executive branch went missing for eight years following 9/11 pose a terror risk to this republic? We are only starting to learn the kind of mischief Cheney was hiding.
Apparently, Mr. Cheney thinks he can still govern by remote control.
Wilkerson has decided to come forward now, though he hasn't been working for the government since 2005, because a new administration is in the process of deciding what to do with those who remain at Gitmo and, more importantly, because he is deeply concerned about Dick Cheney's new role as pundit-in-chief, his public censure of a new president, and the suggestion that Obama's policies pose a risk to the safety of this nation.
"To have a former vice president fear-mongering like this is really, really dangerous," contends this former helicopter pilot who flew combat missions in Vietnam, and spent many years in public service. Lawrence B. Wilkerson deserves a congressional medal of honor for stepping forward with this disclosure, and those who have profaned the word patriot, and soiled the flag they've been hiding behind for nearly a decade deserve to share Bernie Madoff's cell.