Moron, Idiot, or Nefarious Bastard?

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Bush Administration, Dick Cheney, Iraq War

Is Dick Cheney guilty of war crimes? Today former Colin Powell chief of staff Lawrence Wilkerson participated in a BBC radio program and said that is an “interesting question.”

“It is certainly a domestic crime to advocate terror, and I would suspect that it is, for whatever it’s worth, an international crime as well,” he told the programme.

Wilkerson accused Cheney of ignoring a decision by President Bush on the treatment of prisoners in the war on terror.

He said that there were two sides of the debate within the Bush administration over the treatment of prisoners.

Mr Powell and more dovish members had argued for sticking to the Geneva conventions, which prohibit the torture of detainees.

Meanwhile, the other side “essentially wanted to do away with all restrictions”.

Mr Bush agreed a compromise, that “Geneva would in fact govern all but al-Qaeda and al-Qaeda look-alike detainees”.

“What I’m saying is that, under the vice-president’s protection, the secretary of defence [Donald Rumsfeld] moved out to do what they wanted in the first place, even though the president had made a decision that was clearly a compromise,” Col Wilkerson said.

He said that he laid the blame on the issue of prisoner abuse and post-war planning for Iraq “pretty fairly and squarely” at Mr Cheney’s feet.

But what about Bush?

“I look at the relationship between Mr Cheney and Mr Rumsfeld as being one that produced these two failures in particular, and I see that the president is not holding either of them accountable… so I have to lay some blame at his feet too,” he went on.

I think we’re seeing how much of a weenie Bush truly is. One some level he may realize that Dick and Rummy are screwups, but I think he’s afraid to try to be president without them.

Wilkerson said yesterday that President Bush was “too aloof, too distant from the details” of post-war planning. And much of the muck that we call “U.S. foreign policy” is the result of exploitation of that detatchment by underlings.

Anne Gearan of the Associated Press wrote,

In an Associated Press interview Monday, former Powell chief of staff Lawrence Wilkerson also said that wrongheaded ideas for the handling of foreign detainees after Sept. 11 arose from a coterie of White House and Pentagon aides who argued that “the president of the United States is all-powerful,” and that the Geneva Conventions were irrelevant.

The foundation theory of the Bush Administration is, “Our shit don’t stink.” If you understand that’s where they are coming from, they almost make sense.

You’ll like this quote:

Wilkerson blamed Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and like-minded aides. Wilkerson said that Cheney must have sincerely believed that Iraq could be a spawning ground for new terror assaults, because “otherwise I have to declare him a moron, an idiot or a nefarious bastard.”

I’m seeing hands go up for “nefarious bastard.” But “fool” probably would work as well. I think it’s entirely possible that Cheney and Bush both believed their own hype about the dangers of Saddam and his mighty WMDs. If so, in a strict sense of the word, they didn’t lie. Bush is, I suspect, just too lazy and detatched to have questioned what his staffers put in front of him. And Cheney is just plain delusional.

I stumbled on this paper about delusional thinking —

One common misconception about delusions–reflected in the DSM-IV definition–is that the thinking processes of delusional individuals are defective, or different from those of normal people. In fact, research suggests that delusional people use the same rules of reasoning as everyone else. Indeed, once a normal individual forms a belief, he or she is also reluctant to change it, and will actively seek out confirmatory evidence (“confirmation bias”) and ignore contradictory evidence. Rather than making false inferences, then, some experts now believe that delusional individuals have different experiences from other people, and that their delusional beliefs stem from their attempts to understand these experiences. Thus, it might be more useful to conceptualize delusions as disorders of experience. Delusional individuals also tend to be more alert, and indeed hyperattentive to their environment, and to notice coincidences that other people would likely think of as trivial.

I don’t know about the “different experiences” part, but can’t you just see Cheney obsessively sniffing out anything, corroborated or not, that confirmed his beliefs about Saddam Hussein? Cheney’s are the actions of a delusional man. And he had enablers at the Pentagon Iraq Group who were just too eager to give Cheney what he was looking for. One big dysfunctional family.

Cheney cherry picked intelligence with a certainty born of delusion. Whatever confirmed Cheney’s beliefs were hyped, and whatever contradicted them were ignored.

In his BBC interview, Wilkerson indicated the Secretary of State must’ve had about the same prewar Iraq intelligence that the Senate did. That is to say, some critical parts were left out.

Mr Wilkerson told the BBC he had believed intelligence supported the claim Iraq had a WMD programme, and had then initially accepted the administration’s argument that the major western intelligence agencies had been fooled.

He said he had recently been troubled by disclosures that one key informant was unreliable, while the evidence for claims that Saddam Hussein had contacts with al-Qaida may have been obtained by torture and was the subject of internal dissent prior to the March 2003 US-led invasion.

Mr Wilkerson said a statement from an al-Qaida detainee that allowed Mr Powell to present “some pretty substantive contacts” between Iraq and al-Qaida to the UN security council was “obtained through interrogation techniques other than those authorised by [the] Geneva [convention].”

“More important than that, we know that there was a Defence Intelligence Agency dissent on that testimony even before Colin Powell made his presentation,” he told Today. “We never heard about that.”

Now an increasingly isolated Cheney is still pushing for torture, absolutely certain he is right and everyone else is wrong. No amount of empirical evidence would shake him, I suspect. Bush is isolated in his own bubble, in a “gray world of religious idealism.” And neither one of these guys has the mental clarity to make rational decisions.

Can we survive three more years like this?

See also : David Corn; transcript of BBC interview.

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11 Comments

  1. justme  •  Nov 29, 2005 @3:12 pm

    Wilkerson is a true American hero,,but what I cannot understand is why the world is not listening to him.Rumsfeld tried to discredit him by saying he didn’t know him and had never saw him in any cabinet meetings,, but he could not agrue anything Wilkerson had said.

    Wilkerson has said how conflicted he was to come forward with the information he had , because he wanted to be loyal to his party and his friends, but instead he chose to be loyal to his country and after all that inner conflict no one seems to care what he has to say..
    I am starting to wonder, given the example of Mr .Wilkerson, what,if anything , will grab the attention of the nation…Does mr bush need to get a blow job before people care?
    The things Mr.Wilkerson has said since his first piece in the LA TIMES( i think that was the paper, i read too much) should have been a big fat red flag for anyone who heard about it….yet it went totally un noticed by mainstream America,,,or is it just that mainstream America doesn’t care?

  2. merciless  •  Nov 29, 2005 @3:33 pm

    It may actually be too late for Wilkerson’s revenge to do any good. Apparently Colin Powell was duped, and used by the administration because he was the guy everybody believed. Senator Pete Domenici said on Sunday that he thought the WH was being honest about WMDs because Colin Powell had said it.

    Both Powell and Wilkerson knew all this was happening years ago, and did NOTHING. Now, as the Rs are saying, it’s old news.

  3. Swami  •  Nov 29, 2005 @3:39 pm

    But the bible admonishes us….” putting your hand to the plow..don’t look back”

    Georgie has joined the ranks of Torquemada and John Calvin.

    I was particularly impressed with Bush’s wisdom in compromise on the torure question.What does al Qaida look alikes mean? a tad vague,no?

  4. joanr16  •  Nov 29, 2005 @4:10 pm

    I always thought Cheney was just a nefarious bastard, and Bush was the delusion one. But the DSM-IV characteristic of “hyperattentive to their environment” sure doesn’t jive with that locked-door moment, does it? I’m still not convinced Cheney is delusional though, since he only acts if, ultimately, the action personally benefits him.

    I’d like to believe Colin Powell is a smart, honorable man who would’ve hired similar people for his staff. But then how could they have been so fooled by delusional Chimps and nefarious bastards? Now he and Wilkerson seem to be making excuses. It all does seem too late, way too late.

  5. Ken Melvin  •  Nov 29, 2005 @4:11 pm

    How good is info obtained by torture? Good enough to go to war on?

  6. paradoctor  •  Nov 29, 2005 @4:17 pm

    Torture is not about information; it’s about domination. The torturer does not want to find the truth – for the truth would condemn him – instead he wants to bend the truth. He wants assent, not data. Like the search for truth, it, too, becomes an end in itself. It, too, is an expression of character.

  7. Ken Melvin  •  Nov 29, 2005 @4:32 pm

    In re mental states: I’m under the impression that psychiatrists find the whole Ayn Rand/Libertarian thing bogus, that most corporate executives are certifiable, and that bush is obviously schizophrenic.

  8. alyosha  •  Nov 29, 2005 @4:38 pm

    Bush, Cheney, et al. just moved on, from second tier players in Texas or Wyoming to a much bigger game, to running the whole world for them and their pals’ benefit. They’re really simple to understand if you realize that they view the world as their oyster. If Colin Powell has weaknesses, they’ll exploit them, and they did. “Everything exists for me” is their motto.

  9. Easter Lemming Liberal News  •  Nov 29, 2005 @5:44 pm

    Powell is very much a politician and has a better reputation than he deserves.

  10. Rick  •  Nov 29, 2005 @6:58 pm

    All that is going down now is proof that Bush needed to be reelected before we can undo his damage. If Kerry were in office people would think this was all payback and you know that’s exactly how the smear machine would paint it.

  11. A. Citizen  •  Nov 30, 2005 @12:26 am

    Bush far, far down in the hole he has created whistles a little tune, ‘Yankee Doodle Dandy’ I think, as he puts his back to the next swing of the pick. Then setting it down he says:

    “Condy, honey, give me the shovel will ya got this nice ‘n loose here.”

    Using the shovel he fills up the old wooden bucket tied to a thick rope which ascends upward, out of sight.

    “Yo, Dick haul away will ya,” the leader of the free world yells up the shaft.

    “We gittin’ ther’ Condy, baby.”

    Yes, the President labors on into the ever darkening night, digging that hole deeper and deeper.

    Oblivious to everything and everyone else.

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