What do you know, ask and ye shall receive (see previous post). Of course, anyone with a brain long ago put this together, but anyway... Powell's former chief of staff Lawrence Wilkerson speaks out about the Oval Office cabal:
Vice-President Dick Cheney and a handful of others had hijacked the government's foreign policy apparatus, deciding in secret to carry out policies that had left the US weaker and more isolated in the world, the top aide to former Secretary of State Colin Powell claimed on Wednesday.
In a scathing attack on the record of President George W. Bush, Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, chief of staff to Mr Powell until last January, said: “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.
“Now it is paying the consequences of making those decisions in secret, but far more telling to me is America is paying the consequences.”
The comments, made at the New America Foundation, a Washington think-tank, were the harshest attack on the administration by a former senior official since criticisms by Richard Clarke, former White House terrorism czar, and Paul O'Neill, former Treasury secretary, early last year.
Mr Wilkerson said his decision to go public had led to a personal falling out with Mr Powell, whom he served for 16 years at the Pentagon and the State Department.
“He's not happy with my speaking out because, and I admire this in him, he is the world's most loyal soldier."
Loyally following insaniacs -- now that's an admirable trait. Wilkerson's talk (see the full transcript here) is a good read, and takes on sort of desperate tone at the end. It sounds to me as if he's fearing for all of our lives. You can just hear the astonishment in his voice:
Read George Packer’s book The Assassin’s [UI] if you haven’t already. George Packer, a New Yorker, reporter for The New Yorker, has got it right. I just finished it and I usually put marginalia in a book but, let me tell you, I had to get extra pages to write on.
And I wish, I wish I had been able to help George Packer write that book. In some places I could have given him a hell of a lot more specifics than he’s got. 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, Under Secretary of Defense Douglas [UI], whom most of you probably know Tommy Frank said was stupidest blankety blank man in the world. He was. Let me testify to that. He was. Seldom in my life have I met a dumber man.
And yet, and yet, after the Secretary of State agrees to a $400 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 themselves in a closet somewhere. 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’s book.
Wonderful. Everyone in the present administration is either dumb as a rock, evil as Satan, or both. In fact, though the FT presents Wilkerson's criticism as targeted at Bush-Cheney and associates, it's not these dudes in particular that are scaring Wilkerson. Rather, it's that the Military-Industrial Complex has very effectively taken control of our government:
In so many ways I wanted to believe for 4 years that what I was seeing, as an academic, what I was seeing was an extremely weak national security [UI]. And an extremely powerful Vice President and an extremely powerful in the issues that impacted him, Secretary of Defense, remember a Vice President who’s been Secretary of Defense, too, and obviously has an inclination that way and also has known the Secretary of Defense for a long time, and also is a member of what Dwight Eisenhower [called] the military industrial complex and don’t you think they aren’t the [UI] today in a concentration of power that is just unparalleled. It all happened because of the end of the Cold War.
[UI] tell you how many contractors who did billion dollars or so business with the Defense Department that we have in 1988 and how many do we have now. And they’re always working together. If one of them is the lead on the satellite program, I hope there’s some Lockheed and Grumman and others here today [UI] if one of them’s a lead on satellites, the others are subs. And they’ve learned their lesson there in every state.
They’ve got every Congressman, every Senator, they got it covered. Now, it’s not to say that they aren’t smart businessmen. They are, and women. They are. But it’s something we should be looking at, something we should be looking at. So you’ve got this collegiality there between the Secretary of Defense and the Vice President. And then you’ve got a President who is not versed in international relations. And not too much interested in them either.
And so it’s not too difficult to make decisions in this, what I call Oval Office cabal, and decisions often that are the opposite of what you thought were made in the formal process.