The Bush administration torture experts not only aimed their interrogations at preventing another 9/11 attack but also at gaining false information to build a case for war against Iraq, retired Col. Lawrence Wilkerson told Democracy Now on Tuesday.
Wilkerson helped prepare Powell’s infamous February 2003 speech to the United Nations, wrongly accusing Iraq of possessing weapons of mass destruction, a position both have since renounced.
Wilkerson was Powell’s chief of staff from 2002 to 2005. According to Democracy Now, the false claim was partially based on statements made by a prisoner under torture by Egyptian agents on the CIA’s behalf, who later recanted his claim.
Before asking Col. Wilkerson to talk about the critical Libi case, Amy Goodman notes that the Iraq-torture connection is barely mentioned in the recently released Senate Intelligence Report, but that what it does say is important.
Secretary of State Colin Powell then used Libi’s statements in that famous February 5th, 2003, speech at the United Nations falsely alleging Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction.
The Senate report says, "Libi [later] recanted the claim ... claiming that he had been tortured ... and only told them what he assessed they wanted to hear."
Wilkerson responds that when he was at CIA headquarters helping to prepare the speech, Powell got angry with him because the section on terrorism and connections between Baghdad and al-Qaeda was far too weak. So weak, in fact, that they decided to throw it out.
At that moment, CIA Director George Tenet “laid a bombshell on the table,” said Wilkerson, citing him in an almost direct quote, "We have learned from the interrogation of a high-level al-Qaeda operative that not only were there substantial contacts between al-Qaeda and Baghdad, that those contacts included Baghdad Mukhabarat, secret police, Saddam’s special people, training al-Qaeda operatives in how to use chemical and biological weapons.”
Then Powell said, “Put it back in.”
Col. Wilkerson is one of a growing number of people who believe that former president George W. Bush and former Vice President Richard Cheney should be charged with war crimes.