From Wilkerson's October 19 speech for the New American Foundation
I don't know what the case is today; I wish I did. But the case that I saw for four-plus years was a case that I have never seen in my studies of aberrations, bastardizations, perturbations, changes to the national security decision-making process. What I saw was a cabal between the vice president of the United States, Richard Cheney, and the secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, on critical issues that made decisions that the bureaucracy did not know were being made. And then, when the bureaucracy was presented with the decision to carry them out, it was presented in a such a disjointed, incredible way that the bureaucracy often didn't know what it was doing as it moved to carry them out.On the issue of Detainee Abuse:
And I’ll finish just by bringing it down screechingly to the ground and tell youOn (Undersecretary of Defense) Douglas Feith:
that the detainee abuse issue is just such a concrete example of what I’ve just described to you, that 10 years from now or so when it’s really, really put to the acid test, ironed out and people have looked at it from every angle, we are going to be ashamed of what we allowed to happen. I don’t know how many people saw the “Frontline” documentary last night – very well done, I thought, but didn’t get anywhere near the specifics that need to be shown, that need to come out, that need to say to the American people, this is not us, this is not the way we do business in the world. Of course we have criminals, of course we have people who violate the law of war, of course we had My Lai, of course we had problems in the Korean War and in World War II. My father-in-law was involved in the Malmédy massacre and the retaliation of U.S. troops in Belgium. He told me some stories before he died that made my blood curdle about American troops killing Germans.
But if you want to read how the Cheney-Rumsfeld cabal flummoxed the process, read that book. And of course there are other names in there: Undersecretary of Defense Douglas Feith, whom most of you probably know Tommy Franks said was the stupidest blankety, blank man in the world. He was. (Laughter.) Let me testify to that. He was. Seldom in my life have I met a dumber man. (Laughter.) And yet – and yet – and yet, after the secretary of State agrees to a $40 billion department rather than a $30 billion department having control, at least in the immediate post-war period in Iraq, this man is put in charge. Not only is he put in charge, he is given carte blanche to tell the State Department to go screw itself in a closet somewhere. Now, that’s not making excuses for the State Department; that’s telling you how decisions were made and telling you how things got accomplished. Read George (Packer's) book ("The Assasins Gate").On Dick Cheney.
Q: Hi, just a quick question. I actually don’t agree with your assessment of Doug Feith. I think the interesting thing about him is not that he –Vyan
COL. WILKERSON: It wasn’t mine; it was Tommy Franks’.
Q: Right, but he’s actually quite intelligent. What he also is is a zealot. And that makes me wonder, how is it that Dick Cheney, who was described to me by someone who worked with him in a senior post in the Pentagon in the first Bush administration as prudent, cautious. He said to me, I don’t recognize Dick Cheney anymore. How did Cheney go down this path as well?
COL. WILKERSON: Well, there are a number of people who have asked me that
a question and a number of people have offered their observations who are in a better position than I to make that judgment. I knew Secretary Cheney when he was the secretary of Defense, and he was, in my view, a good secretary of Defense. He would make a decision on a dime, and if you didn’t give him the material to make a decision with he’d send you away. Good executive – 9/11 changed his entire approach to business, I think. Some people have called it paranoia, some people have called it not having enough – sort of the ivory tower complex, not having enough contact with the real world on a daily basis to understand how things are going or how things are building or how tension is being handled.