Did Cheney Initiate a Policy of Prisoner Abuse?

Dan Froomkin picks up on something that no one else seems to have noticed in yesterday’s broadcast of Morning Edition on NPR: an assertion by Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, former chief of staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell (also a 31-year military veteran and former director of the Marine Corps War College) that there is a paper trail leading from the prisoner abuse the happened in Iraq to the Vice President’s office. From Froomkin’s transcript:

Mr. WILKERSON: I’m privy to the paperwork, both classified and unclassified, that the secretary of State asked me to assemble on how this all got started, what the audit trail was, and when I began to assemble this paperwork, which I no longer have access to, it was clear to me that there was a visible audit trail from the vice president’s office through the secretary of Defense down to the commanders in the field that in carefully couched terms — I’ll give you that — that to a soldier in the field meant two things: We’re not getting enough good intelligence and you need to get that evidence, and, oh, by the way, here’s some ways you probably can get it. And even some of the ways that they detailed were not in accordance with the spirit of the Geneva Conventions and the law of war.

It will be interesting to see what happens if any other news outlets actually pick up on this story.


UPDATE: In case any reporters feel like running with this (potentially explosive) story, here are a couple of interesting angles that could be pursued:

– In an interesting coincidence, this news comes the same day that Cheney visited Capitol Hill to lobby for a CIA exemption from anti-torture rules;
– This news suggests that the Vice President circumvented or superceded a Presidential order;
– In another interesting coincidence, this news comes just three days after Cheney appointed David Addington to be his chief of staff; Addington was the one who developed the legal rationale in the Vice President’s office for this policy, according to Wilkerson.

Just some suggestions.