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former Colin Powell aide accuses Cheney

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  • Greg Cannon
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/4480638.stm Cheney accused on prisoner abuse A top aide to former Secretary of State Colin Powell has launched a
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 29, 2005
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      http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/4480638.stm

      Cheney accused on prisoner abuse

      A top aide to former Secretary of State Colin Powell
      has launched a stinging attack on US Vice-President
      Dick Cheney over abuse of prisoners by US troops.

      Col Lawrence Wilkerson accused Mr Cheney of ignoring a
      decision by President Bush on the treatment of
      prisoners in the war on terror.

      Asked by the BBC's Today if Mr Cheney could be accused
      of war crimes, he said: "It's an interesting
      question."

      "Certainly it is a domestic crime to advocate terror,"
      he added.

      "And I would suspect, for whatever it's worth, it's an
      international crime as well."

      This is an extraordinary attack by a man who until
      earlier in the year was Mr Cheney's colleague in the
      senior reaches of the Bush team, the BBC's Justin Webb
      in Washington says.

      Col Wilkerson has in the past accused the
      vice-president of responsibility for the conditions
      which led to the abuse of prisoners.

      But this time he has gone much further, appearing to
      suggest Mr Cheney should face war crimes charges, our
      correspondent adds.

      Intelligence questions

      He said that there were two sides of the debate within
      the Bush administration over the treatment of
      prisoners.

      Mr Powell and more dovish members had argued for
      sticking to the Geneva conventions, which prohibit the
      torture of detainees.

      Meanwhile, the other side "essentially wanted to do
      away with all restrictions".

      Mr Bush agreed a compromise, that "Geneva would in
      fact govern all but al-Qaeda and al-Qaeda look-alike
      detainees".

      "What I'm saying is that, under the vice-president's
      protection, the secretary of defence [Donald Rumsfeld]
      moved out to do what they wanted in the first place,
      even though the president had made a decision that was
      clearly a compromise," Col Wilkerson said.

      He said that he laid the blame on the issue of
      prisoner abuse and post-war planning for Iraq "pretty
      fairly and squarely" at Mr Cheney's feet.

      "I look at the relationship between Mr Cheney and Mr
      Rumsfeld as being one that produced these two failures
      in particular, and I see that the president is not
      holding either of them accountable... so I have to lay
      some blame at his feet too," he went on.

      In the BBC interview, Col Wilkerson also developed his
      views on whether or not pre-war intelligence was
      deliberately misused by the White House.

      He said that he had previously thought only honest
      mistakes were made.

      But recent revelations about doubts in the
      intelligence community that appear to have been
      suppressed in the run-up to the war have made him
      question this view.
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