The former chief of staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell pledged Tuesday to testify against former Vice President Dick Cheney if he is ever tried for war crimes.
Col. Lawrence Wilkerson told Democracy Now‘s Amy Goodman that he would participate in a trial even if it meant personal repercussions.
“I, unfortunately — and I’ve admitted to this a number of times, publicly and privately — was the person who put together Colin Powell’s presentation at the United Nations Security Council on 5 February, 2003,” Wilkerson said. “It was probably the biggest mistake of my life. I regret it to this day. I regret not having resigned over it.”
In an interview that aired on NBC Monday, Cheney told Jamie Gangel that unlike President George W. Bush, he did not have a “sickening feeling” when they discovered there were no weapons of mass destruction after the invasion of Iraq.
“I think we did the right thing,” Cheney said.
Joining Wilkerson and Goodman to discuss Cheney’s new book “In My Time,” Salon’s Glenn Greenwald said that it was disturbing to see the former vice president treated simply as an “elder statesman.”
“The evidence is overwhelming… that Dick Cheney is not just a political figure with controversial views, but is an actual criminal, that he was centrally involved in a whole variety not just of war crimes in Iraq, but of domestic crimes, as well, including the authorization of warrantless eavesdropping on American citizens in violation of FISA, which says that you go to jail for five years for each offense, as well as the authorization and implementation of a worldwide torture regime that, according to General Barry McCaffrey, resulted in the murder — his word — of dozens of detainees, far beyond just the three or four cases of waterboarding that media figures typically ask Cheney about,” Greenwald explained.
“And as a result, Dick Cheney goes around the country profiting off of this, you know, sleazy, sensationalistic, self-serving book, basically profiting from his crimes, and at the same time normalizing the idea that these kind of policies, though maybe in the view of some wrongheaded, are perfectly legitimate political choices to make. And I think thatâ€™s the really damaging legacy from all of this.”
“Colonel Wilkerson, do you think the Bush administration officials should be held accountable in the way that Glenn Greenwald is talking about?” Goodman asked.
“I certainly do,” Wilkerson replied. “And I’d be willing to testify, and I’d be willing to take any punishment I’m due. And I have to say, I agree with almost everything [Greenwald] just said. And I think that explains the aggressiveness, to a large extent, of the Cheney attack and of the words like ‘exploding heads all over Washington.’ This is a book written out of fear, fear that one day someone will ‘Pinochet’ Dick Cheney.”
Wilkerson was referring to former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, who was arrested in London in 1998 after being indicted for crimes against humanity. It was the first time the principle of universal jurisdiction had been applied to a former foreign head of state.
Watch this video from Democracy Now, broadcast Aug. 30, 2011.