AMY GOODMAN: Today marks the official launch
of one of most anticipated memoirs of any top Bush administration
official. Iím talking about former Vice President Dick Cheneyís 576-page
memoir, In My Time: A Personal and Political Memoir.
Cheney has begun a
publicity blitz to promote his new book, with a string of TV appearances
scheduled on Fox News Channel, as well as C-SPAN and the major networks.
He appeared on The Today Show this morning.
This is an excerpt of his
pre-taped interview with Jamie Gangel that aired last night on NBC News
JAMIE GANGEL: In your view, we should still be using enhanced
DICK CHENEY: Yes.
JAMIE GANGEL: Should we still be waterboarding terror suspects?
DICK CHENEY: I would strongly support using it again if we had a
high-value detainee and that was the only way we can get him to talk.
JAMIE GANGEL: People call it torture. You think it should still be a
DICK CHENEY: Yes.
JAMIE GANGEL: Secret prisons?
DICK CHENEY: Yes.
JAMIE GANGEL: Wiretapping?
DICK CHENEY: Well, with the right approval.
JAMIE GANGEL: You say it is one of the things you are proudest of, and
you would do it again in a heartbeat.
DICK CHENEY: It was controversial at the time. It was the right thing to
JAMIE GANGEL: No apologies?
DICK CHENEY: No apologies.
AMY GOODMAN: That was Dick Cheney speaking
to Jamie Gangel on NBC Dateline. Cheney says his memoir is loaded with
revelations. He told Gangel, quote,
"There are going to be heads
exploding all over Washington."
In addition to unequivocally defending what he calls "tough
interrogations" on captured terrorism suspects, Cheney writes he argued
against softening the presidentís speeches on Iraq.
He says he sees no
need for the administration to apologize for erroneously claiming Iraq
hunted for uranium in Niger.
Cheney also reveals he tried to have former
Secretary of State Colin Powell removed from the cabinet for expressing
doubts about the Iraq war. And Cheney notes he unsuccessfully urged
President George W. Bush to bomb Syria in June 2007.
One of those to come under the most scrutiny in the book is Bushís
former Secretary of State, Colin Powell. This is an excerpt of Cheneyís
interview with Jamie Gangel, again from Dateline.
JAMIE GANGEL: The portrait you paint of Colin Powell makes it sound as
if he was disloyal and undermining the administration.
DICK CHENEY: Well, those are your words. I donít think I say it as
harshly as you have presented it.
I did feel that the State Department
did not serve the president well. I would hear discussions, for example,
that General Powell had objected to or opposed our operations in Iraq.
But that never happened sitting around the table in the National
Security Council. It was the kind of thing that seemed to be said
outside to others.
AMY GOODMAN: To discuss former Vice
President Dick Cheneyís version of history as outlined in his book In My
Time, weíre joined from Washington, D.C., by Colonel
served as chief of staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell from 2002 to
Welcome to Democracy Now!, Lieutenant Wilkerson. Can you respond to what
Cheney just said on NBC, Colonel Wilkerson?
COL. LAWRENCE WILKERSON: Amy, listening to your recitation - yeah,
listening to your recitation of events at the head of the show and then
your in-depth interview with the gentleman from Vermont, particularly
the deaths in Afghanistan of American and allied troops and the
devastation of Hurricane Irene, I think I could characterize Cheneyís
book as singularly insignificant.
That said, I think his use of phrases
like those that were quoted - "exploding heads all over
Washington" - as my former boss and former Secretary of
State Colin Powell said on Face the Nation on Sunday, is more of a
grocery store tabloid, and certainly not the kind of language that a
former vice president of the United States of America should be using.
Again, like Brent Scowcroft, I think in 2003 or 2004 in an interview
with The New Yorker magazine, I simply donít recognize Dick Cheney
AMY GOODMAN: Talk about what he had to say
about your boss, about General Colin Powell and his views on the Iraq
COL. LAWRENCE WILKERSON: The most inciteful thing - with a C, not an S -
that the Vice President apparently has put in his book, due to excerpts
Iíve seen and so forth - I have not read the book, I have to say that; I
do not have a copy of it, not sure Iím going to buy a copy of it - was
that he had something to do with Colin Powell leaving in January 2005.
Thatís utter nonsense.
Colin Powell had told the president of the United
States, the president-elect of the United States, that heíd be a
He had told all of us that, "us" being his inner
team and also the team that he used most confidentially and most often
within the State Department. In fact, when he asked me to be his
secretary - to be his chief of staff in August of 2002, he was very kind
"Look, you can stay on beyond the turn of the year and
so forth when I leave, because youíll be working for Ambassador Haass,
which I know you enjoy, in policy planning, and you could stay on for
eight years, if the president is reelected, or as long as you wish.
if you come to work for me as my chief of staff, you will have to leave.
You will have to leave very soon, and no later than December-January,
So this contention by Cheney is utterly preposterous.
AMY GOODMAN: In his memoir, Cheney accuses
Colin Powell of trying to undermine President Bush during the run-up to
the Iraq war and tacitly allowing his deputy to leak the name of a
covert CIA agent.
Speaking on CBSís Face the Nation on Sunday, Powell
defended his approach to the Iraq war.
COLIN POWELL: Mr. Cheney may forget that Iím the one who said to
President Bush, if you break it, you own it. And you have got to
understand that if we have to go to war in Iraq, we have to be prepared
for the whole war, not just the first phase.
And Mr. Cheney and many of
his colleagues did not prepare for what happened after the fall of
And let me turn to, again, Vice
President Cheneyís interview on NBC News Dateline with Jamie Gangel last
In this clip, Gangel talks to Cheney about discovering there were
no WMDs in Iraq.
JAMIE GANGEL: In his book, President Bush wrote he had, quote,
"sickening feeling." But you donít seem to express the same reaction or
DICK CHENEY: Well, I didnít have a sickening feeling. I think we did the
AMY GOODMAN: Your response, Colonel
COL. LAWRENCE WILKERSON: I, unfortunately - and Iíve admitted to this a
number of times, publicly and privately - was the person who put
together Colin Powellís presentation at the United Nations Security
Council on 5 February, 2003. It was probably the biggest mistake of my
life. I regret it to this day.
I regret not having resigned over it. So
I fully support his contention that he was hardly undermining the
positions of the president of the United States, particularly with
regard to Iraq. He put his reputation on the line. And he has said
publicly that he will be always remembered as the man who gave that
presentation at the U.N. in 2003.
So, again, the Vice Presidentís
contentions are preposterous.
Furthermore, the Vice President seems to find fault with Condi, Condi
Rice, the secretary after Powell, with Powell, with Armitage, with the
President himself. The only person Cheney does not seem to find fault
with is Cheney. I think we have a word for that kind of person. I wonít
use it here on television.
But I think Mr. Cheneyís view is totally,
utterly, completely Mr. Cheneyís view. I doubt there are very many
people in America, other than the cheerleading squad for people like
Cheney, who love torture and the like, who will even read his book. Or
if they do read it, theyíll read it in order to increase their revulsion
of him, rather than their respect for him.
And thatís a pity, because he
is a former vice president.
AMY GOODMAN: Let me ask you, Colonel
Wilkerson, talking about your having written that speech for Colin
Powell, how you put it together. And at that time, because there was so
much skepticism, did you have doubts about what you were writing?
COL. LAWRENCE WILKERSON: Absolutely, Amy. My whole team had doubts. In
fact, we asked the question early on, why wasnít this our ambassador at
the United Nations, John Negroponte, as Adlai Stevenson had done for
Kennedy during a far more serious crisis in October 1962, the so-called
Cuban Missile Crisis?
And we all laughed and answered our own question
It was because no one in
the Bush administration had high
poll ratings, amongst the American people or the international
community. Colin Powellís ratings were up there with Mother Teresa at
the time, in the low seventies, sometimes even going up into the high
seventies, low eighties.
So this is the reason they put him in New York.
And I didnít write the speech. That belongs to his speechwriters. I
actually orchestrated the entire team - the White House team, the CIA
team and so forth - out at Langley at CIA headquarters. And the way we
did that was under the leadership and under the respect for and really
the umbrella of George Tenet, the director of Central Intelligence/head
of the CIA.
And George was constantly asked by me, by Colin Powell, by
Rich Armitage, by Condoleezza Rice and others - she was national
security adviser at the time - in front of everyone on that team,
stand by this, George? You corroborate to the Secretary of State that
you have multiple sources independently determining each one of these
facts that weíre giving?"
And we threw lots of the facts out.
literally a third of the presentation out. The unfortunate thing is that
we left in what George was most convincing on, and that was the mobile
biological laboratories, the existing stocks of chemical weapons, and
worst of all, an active nuclear program.
And as I said, I will regret
that to my grave.
AMY GOODMAN: How did the intelligence get so
contaminated, manipulated? How was it so wrong?
COL. LAWRENCE WILKERSON: In my view, you have to look at each one of the
so-called pillars of the presentation, the three that I just named being
the most prominent. "Curveball," we didnít even know that term when
George Tenet was presenting us the information about the mobile
Curveball, as we all know now, was an agent being run
the CIAís equivalent in Germany. And the Germans, as well as
the CIA station chief in Germany - or in Europe, actually, Tyler Drumheller, had expressed their dismay with and lack of reliability of
Curveball. And yet, we went ahead and used that information.
Tenet or John McLaughlin, his deputy, never said a word about Curveball
to us. They simply gave us four independently corroborable sources for
the existence of the labs. They even gave us drawings, and so forth, of
those labs, that had supposedly come from an Iraqi engineer who was
injured in an accident that occurred in one of the labs that actually
kill people, testifying to the lethality of the ingredients being used
in the labs.
So, we had all of this prima facie, circumstantial, if you
will, evidence that George Tenet and his team presented to us, indeed
representing the entire 16 - at that time, 16-entity U.S. intelligence
The same on the chemical stocks, the same on the active nuclear program,
aluminum tubes of which was a big aspect of.
Colin Powell doubted them
so much that John McLaughlin actually brought one of them in and rolled
it around on the DCIís conference table and explained to the Secretary
of State how the metal in that tube was so expensive that it was
impossible to believe that Saddam Hussein would be spending that much
money on tubes that were simply for rocket shielding, which was the
other explanation of what the tubes were for.
the DCI and the deputy
DCI spent a lot of time and effort trying to convince the Secretary of
State not to throw things out of the presentation. Unfortunately, we
left enough in that made us really sort of the laughing stock of the
AMY GOODMAN: You said in 2009 - I think this
is what youíre getting to now - in the Washington Note, an online
political journal, you talked about how finding a smoking gun linking
Iraq and al-Qaeda became the main purpose for the abusive interrogation
program that the Bush administration authorized in 2002.
COL. LAWRENCE WILKERSON: In summer of 2002, my FBI colleagues, my CIA
colleagues, who will speak the truth to me, have told me that. Iíve also
gleaned it from other methods that I canít talk about here on the
Someday they will come to light, and historians will record
But let me explain to you how Colin Powell dealt with that in his
presentation, to return to that infamous moment again. We were throwing
out - he had pulled me aside in the National Intelligence Council spaces
in the CIA, put me in a room, he and I alone, and he told me he was
going to throw all the presentation material about the connection
between Baghdad and al-Qaeda out, completely out.
I welcomed that,
because I thought it was all bogus.
Within about an hour, George Tenet, having scented that something was
wrong with the Secretary vis-ŗ-vis this part of his presentation,
suddenly unleashes on all in his conference room that they have just
gotten the results of an interrogation of a high-level al-Qaeda
operative, and those results not only confirm substantial contacts
between an al-Qaeda and Baghdad, the Mukhabarat and Baghdad, the secret
police, if you will, but also the fact that they were training, they
were actually training al-Qaeda operatives in the use of chemical and
Well, this was devastating. Hereís the DCI telling
us that a high-level al-Qaeda operative had confirmed all of this. So
Powell put at least part of that back into his presentation.
We later learned that that was through interrogation methods that used
waterboarding, that no U.S. personnel were present at the time - it was
done in Cairo, Egypt, and it was done by the Egyptians - and that later,
within a week or two period, the high-level al-Qaeda operative recanted
everything he had said.
We further learned that the Defense Intelligence
Agency had issued immediately a warning on that, saying that they didnít
trust the reliability of it due to the interrogation methods. We were
never shown that DIA dissent, and we were never told about the
circumstances under which the high-level al-Qaeda operative was
Tenet simply used it as a bombshell to convince the
secretary not to throw that part, which was a very effective part, if
you will recall, out of his presentation.
AMY GOODMAN: Colonel Wilkerson, we also have
Glenn Greenwald on the line with us from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He is a
constitutional law attorney, political and legal blogger for Salon.com.
His recent article on Cheneyís book is called "The
Fruits of Elite Immunity." Glenn, explain.
GLENN GREENWALD: One of the most significant aspects of the rollout of
Dick Cheneyís book is that heís basically being treated as though heís
just an elder statesman who has some controversial, partisan political
And yet, the evidence is overwhelming, including most of what
Colonel Wilkerson just said and has been saying for quite some time, and
lots of other people, as well, including, for example, General Antonio Taguba, 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.
And yet, what we have is a government, a successor administration,
Obama administration, that announced that there will be no criminal
investigations, no, let alone, prosecutions of any Bush officials for
any of these multiple crimes.
And that has taken these actions outside
of the criminal realm and turned them into just garden-variety political
disputes. And itís normalized the behavior.
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 thatís the really
damaging legacy from all of this.
AMY GOODMAN: Colonel Wilkerson, do you think
the Bush administration officials should be held accountable in the way
that Glenn Greenwald is talking about?
COL. LAWRENCE WILKERSON: I certainly do. And Iíd be willing to testify,
and Iíd be willing to take any punishment Iím due.
And I have to say, I
agree with almost everything he 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.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, I thank you very much for
being with us, both, Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson served as chief of staff
to Secretary of State Colin Powell from 2002 to 2005, and Glenn
Greenwald, speaking to us on that crackly phone line from Rio de
Janeiro, Brazil, constitutional law attorney and political and legal
blogger for Salon.com. Weíll link to your article there.
This is Democracy Now! When we come back, thereís another Bush
administration official on a book tour. Heís Donald Rumsfeld. And he got
quite a surprise as he was traveling through Washington State.
of a soldier who committed suicide questioned Donald Rumsfeld. He had
heard taken out.
Stay with us.