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Kretsen rundt Dick Cheney og Donald Rumsfeld innbilte seg selv og andre i administrasjonen at USAs president var hevet over loven. Slik oppsto den ulykksalige fangebehandlingen som nå rir USA som en mare. Bush er dessverre en mann som ikke involverer seg for mye i detaljer. Han forsøkte å kompromisse, men hardlinerne gikk av med seieren, sier Lawrence Wilkerson, daværende stabsjef for Colin Powell, til AP.

On the question of detainees picked up in Afghanistan and other fronts in the war on terror, Wilkerson said Bush heard two sides of an impassioned argument within his administration. Abuse of prisoners, and even the deaths of some who had been interrogated in Afghanistan and elsewhere, have bruised the U.S. image abroad and undermined support for the Iraq war.

Cheney’s office, Rumsfeld aides and others argued «that the president of the United States is all-powerful, that as commander in chief the president of the United States can do anything he damn well pleases,» Wilkerson said.

On the other side were Powell, others at the State Department and top military brass, and occasionally Condoleezza Rice, who was then national security adviser, Wilkerson said.

Powell raised frequent and loud objections, his former aide said, once yelling into a telephone at Rumsfeld: «Donald, don’t you understand what you are doing to our image?»

Wilkerson said Bush tried to work out a compromise in 2001 and 2002 that recognized that the war on terrorism was different from past wars and required greater flexibility in handling prisoners who don’t belong to an enemy state or follow the rules themselves.

Bush’s stated policy, which was heatedly criticized by civil liberties and legal groups at the time, was defensible, Wilkerson said. But it was undermined almost immediately in practice, he said.(ap)

Ex-Powell Aide Criticizes Detainee Effort

Lawrence Wilkerson