Former Powell chief of staff ‘damn sure the Bush administration cooked the books’ on Iraq

By Stephen C. Webster
Tuesday, February 19, 2013 12:40 EDT
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Col. Lawrence Wilkerson. Photo: Screenshot via MSNBC.
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Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, former chief of staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell, said Monday on MSNBC that he’s “damn sure the Bush administration cooked the books” when it came to pushing for the invasion of Iraq.

Wilkerson was speaking to host Ed Schultz about the Republican filibuster of Defense Secretary nominee Chuck Hagel, but transitioned into a plug for MSNBC’s new documentary “Hubris: Selling the Iraq War,” which aired Monday night.

The documentary featured never-before-seen memos by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, composed in November, 2001, clearly showing he and aides workshopping ideas for selling the invasion of Iraq. “US discovers Saddam connection to Sept. 11 attack or to anthrax attacks?” one possibility reads. “Dispute over WMD inspections? Start now thinking about inspection demands.”

Another memo instructed administration officials to, “Focus on WMD,” then worked down the list going from “building momentum for regime change” to “Surprise, speed, shock and risk,” and ending with emphasizing the importance of “who would rule afterwards,” without a single mention of efforts to win the peace following the invasion.

In the film Wilkerson recalls how Powell, who gave a key speech to the United Nations presenting fabricated evidence of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, seemed to acknowledge there were no weapons in the country. “He said, ‘I wonder what will happen when we put 500,000 troops into Iraq and comb the country from one end to the other and find nothing,’” Wilkerson explained.

“Do you believe the Bush administration cooked the books to sell the war in Iraq?” Schultz asked him.

“I didn’t know it at the time, and I fault myself for that,” he said. “I’ll go to my grave with that mass failing on my part. But yes, in retrospect, having done all the research and work that my students have done, plus myself, I’m damn sure that the Bush administration cooked the books.”

This video is from MSNBC, aired Monday, Feb. 18, 2013.

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Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster is the senior editor of Raw Story, and is based out of Austin, Texas. He previously worked as the associate editor of The Lone Star Iconoclast in Crawford, Texas, where he covered state politics and the peace movement’s resurgence at the start of the Iraq war. Webster has also contributed to publications such as True/Slant, Austin Monthly, The Dallas Business Journal, The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Weekly, The News Connection and others. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenCWebster.
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