Last week, an interview with Colin Powell’s former aide, Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, and media critic Norman Solomon was released from Democracy Now! Wilkerson prepared the infamous U.N speech by former Secretary of State Powell that presented the case for the Iraq war ten years ago. Solomon is the author of “War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death.” He is an avid critic of the Iraq war, and strongly promotes RootsAction.org, which actively opposes the nomination of Brennan.
The interview was certainly not tame, as both Wilkerson and Solomon attacked and accused each other of some of the fatal flaws in the series of events that unfolded ten years ago, which culminated in the Iraq war. The transcript accents some important information, worthy of reevaluation and emphasis, especially as we find the US at the cusp of a war with Iran. Powell stated on February 5th, 2003 that he estimated Iraq had “a stockpile of between 100 and 500 tons of chemical weapon agents.” Years later, we found out how wrong this was.
Wilkerson insists that the speech was not the “seminal moment that sent us into war”. But by preparing Powell’s speech, Wilkerson undoubtedly played a major role in the invasion, and gravely altered the rhetoric for Iraq. Immediately after the speech, Henry Kissinger said, “he has closed the deal” and not surprisingly Fox News’ Sean Hannity stated, “I don’t see how anybody at this point cannot support this effort.” And the war began six weeks later.
Last week’s interview did attempt to dissect the mismanagement that led to the war, explaining that the information from the intelligence system at the time consisted of 16 entities that had global resources. A thorough analysis of the invasion requires an understanding of the evidence that instigated Wilkerson to write such a fallacious speech.
The “substantial” connection between al-Qaeda and Baghdad that was deduced from the testimony of Shaykh al-Libi -who we now know was water-boarded with no U.S. personnel present – was the nail in the coffin. After Shakykh al-Libi recanted the information he gave under torture, the Defense Intelligence Agency looked into additional data about how the information was obtained and issued a burn notice on it. The burn notice meant that the information was worthless and inaccurate. Allegedly, due to a computer glitch, the burn notice was never revealed to the secretary. Whether or not we choose to believe this is up to us.
So where are we now? As Solomon so accurately noted, 10 years have gone by and the entire upper echelons of the Bush administration lives with impunity.
Impunity to lie, impunity to deceive and distort, impunity that is personal, that is professional and is governmental.
“We were all wrong,” says Wilkerson.
Many experts, activists and researchers advocated that the administrations case for WMD in Iraq was full of holes as early as 2002. The Institute for Public Accuracy specifically published documents highlighting the falsities coming from Powell’s office and the entire administration, including the week that he gave the speech.
February 15 marks exactly a decade since millions of people protested all over the world in opposition to the invasion. The protest in Rome involved three million, and is listed in the 2004 Guinness Book of World Records as the largest anti-war rally in history.
We were not all wrong.
– Danielle Morland
(Featured photo: allen.goldblatt, Creative Commons, Flickr)