According to the London Times, Lawrence B. “Larry” Wilkerson, a retired colonel of the US Army and a former top aide to Colin Powell, has revealed that the Bush administration decided that keeping innocent people locked up was an acceptable cost of the war on terror — similar to the way Massey Energy decided paying fines is an acceptable cost of running a dangerous coal mine.
In a signed declaration to support a lawsuit filed by a Guantánamo detainee and released to the Times of London, Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson claims that President George W. Bush knew that the majority of the hundreds of men detained in that prison center had no terrorist links.
Tonight on Countdown, the Keith Olbermann show I heard this: Wilkerson’s having testfified under oath that VP Cheney, SecDef Rumsfeld, and Bush41 knew — and did not care — that many of the detainees in Guantanamo were in fact innocent may make bringing them to trial easier. Lt. Cmdr. Charles Swift (the JAG specialist who won the Hamdan Case) says the policy at Guantanamo was “you have to prove that we haven’t made a mistake.” Habeas suits keep being decided “at an incredible rate for the detainees.” More and more of the Guantanamo prisoners are being found to have been innocent, and that puts a lot of pressure on President Obama to close Guantanamo, Swift says. No longer a JAG officer, he now practices privately as an attorney.
The second dimension that is largely unreported is that several in the U.S. leadership became aware of this lack of proper vetting very early on and, thus, of the reality that many of the detainees were innocent of any substantial wrongdoing, had little intelligence value, and should be immediately released.
But to have admitted this reality would have been a black mark on their leadership from virtually day one of the so-called Global War on Terror and these leaders already had black marks enough: the dead in a field in Pennsylvania, in the ashes of the Pentagon, and in the ruins of the World Trade Towers. They were not about to admit to their further errors at Guantanamo Bay. Better to claim that everyone there was a hardcore terrorist, was of enduring intelligence value, and would return to jihad if released. I am very sorry to say that I believe there were uniformed military who aided and abetted these falsehoods, even at the highest levels of our armed forces.
Many detainees locked up in Guantanamo Bay were innocent men swept up by U.S. forces unable to distinguish enemies from noncombatants, a former Bush administration official said Thursday.
“There are still innocent people there,” Republican Lawrence B. Wilkerson, former chief of staff to then-secretary of state Colin Powell, told the Associated Press. “Some have been there six or seven years.”
Wilkerson, who first made the assertions in an internet posting on Tuesday, told the AP he learned from briefings and by communicating with military commanders that the U.S. soon realized many detainees held at the U.S. military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, were innocent but nevertheless held them in hopes they could provide information for a “mosaic” of intelligence.
“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,” Wilkerson wrote in the blog.
He said intelligence analysts hoped to gather “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.”
Wilkerson, a retired Army colonel, said vetting on the battlefield during the early stages of U.S. military operations in Afghanistan was incompetent with no meaningful attempt to discriminate “who we were transporting to Cuba for detention and interrogation.”
Read more: http://www.cbc.ca/world/story/2009/03/19/guantanamo-detainee-innocent.html#ixzz0keQma7EU