[Posted by Karl]
On Wednesday, Col. Lawrence B. Wilkerson, former chief of staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell, claimed that the Bush administration authorized Egypt to waterboard top al Qaeda camp commander Ibn al Shaykh al Libi in order to generate phony intelligence connecting Iraq and al Qaeda, as a pretext for the invasion.
The story took a day to go from a lefty blog to CNN. Wilkerson told the cable net, “I couldn’t walk into a courtroom and prove this to anybody, but I’m pretty sure it’s fairly accurate.”
In fact, Wilkerson’s claim is completely bogus, as CNN could have easily discovered:
Al Libi’s original testimony regarding Iraq-al Qaeda links occurred months before Wilkerson says waterboarding was used to get this admission out of him. We know this because the DIA filed a report saying that it did not trust al Libi’s testimony regarding the training of al Qaeda operatives in Iraq in February 2002 -– two months before Wilkerson says the Bush administration authorized the Egyptians to use harsh interrogation methods on al Libi.
So, when Wilkerson writes that “the [Bush] administration authorized [the] harsh interrogation [of al Libi] in April and May of 2002” and al Libi “had not revealed any al Qa’ida-Baghdad contacts” until then, he is clearly wrong. Al Libi, according to the DIA, first discussed this putative tie between the Iraqi regime and al Qaeda before Wilkerson says that harsh interrogation techniques were authorized by Vice President Cheney.
At The New Republic, James Kirchick is even more harsh:
[T]he more important thing people should know about Lawrence Wilkerson is that nothing he says can be taken at face value. The man is a third-rate conspiracy theorist and a borderline bigot.
However, even Kirchick leaves out that Wilkerson, now teaching at George Washington University and the College of William and Mary, assigns the Mearsheimer/Walt “Israeli Lobby” paper to his classes:
“I think it contains a lot of what I call the blinding flashes of the obvious,” Wilkerson says. “But that said, [they are] blinding flashes of the obvious that people whispered in corners, not said out loud at cocktail parties, where someone else could hear you.”
Nothing paranoid there, nosiree.
Of course, Wilkerson’s latest baseless accusations have been picked up by lefty conspiracy-theorists like Andrew Sullivan and Joe Conason (and are spreading throught the Sinisphere), without checking the timeline or even wondering why Wilkerson never made the claim until now. It does not matter to them — Wilkerson is their new plastic turkey.
Update: FWIW, Wilkerson offered a disjoined non-response to the Weekly Standard.