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Profile: Larry Wilkerson

 
  

Positions that Larry Wilkerson has held:

  • Secretary of State Chief of Staff


 

Quotes

 
  

Quote, April 2004

   [Regarding sanctions on Cuba] “Dumbest policy on the face of the earth. It's crazy.” [Gentlemen's Quarterly (GQ), 4/29/2004]


 

Relations

 
  

No related entities for this entity.


 

Larry Wilkerson actively participated in the following events:

 
  

January 29, 2003      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       US Secretary of State Colin Powell gives his chief of staff, Larry Wilkerson, a 48-page report from the White House on Iraq's alleged arsenal of banned weapons. The report is meant to serve as the basis for Powell's upcoming speech to the UN (see 10:30 a.m. February 5, 2003). Powell, skeptical of the report's data, instructs Wilkerson to have it looked over by the CIA. According to a senior official interviewed by James Bamford, the dossier was written primarily by John Hannah. I. Lewis Libby, Hannah's boss, may have also contributed to the report, according to Bamford's source. [Bamford, 2004, pp 368; Vanity Fair, 5/2004] The analysts at CIA will quickly determine that the documents are based on unreliable sources (see January 30, 2003-January 31, 2003).
People and organizations involved: Colin Powell, Lewis ("Scooter") Libby, Larry Wilkerson, John Hannah
          

January 30, 2003-January 31, 2003      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       Colin Powell's chief of staff, Larry Wilkerson, meets with other State staffers and CIA analysts at the agency's Langley headquarters in a conference room down the hall from George Tenet's office to review two White House reports on Iraq's alleged illegal activities. The two dossiers are meant to serve as the basis for Powell's upcoming speech at the UN (see 10:30 a.m. February 5, 2003). One of the reports—a 48-page dossier that had been provided to Powell's office a few days earlier (see January 29, 2003) —deals with Iraq's supposed arsenal of weapons of mass destruction while the other, slightly more recent report totaling some 45 pages, addresses the issue of Iraq's history of human rights violations and its alleged ties to militant groups listed by the state department as terrorist organizations. [Vanity Fair, 5/2004, pg 230] Shortly after the CIA analysts begin their review of the documents, the decision is made to scrap them and start from scratch. “They suspect much of it originated with the Iraqi National Congress (INC) and its chief, Ahmed Chalabi,” Vanity Fair magazine will later report. Powell's staff is also “convinced that much of it had been funneled directly to Cheney by a tiny separate intelligence unit set up by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.” [Vanity Fair, 5/2004, pg 230] A senior source later tells US News and World Report that the documents had included “unsubstantiated assertions.” According to several administration officials, Powell's team “tried to follow ... [the] 45-page White House script,” but “there were too many problems—some assertions, for instance, were not supported by solid or adequate sourcing—Indeed, some of the damning information simply could not be proved.” [US News and World Report, 6/9/03 Sources: Unnamed senior source] Similarly, one senior official will later recall: “We went through that for about six-hours—item by item, page by page and about halfway through the day I realized this is idiocy, we cannot possibly do this, because it was all bullsh_t—it was unsourced, a lot of it was just out of the newpapers, it was—and I look back in retrospect—it was a [Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Douglas] Feith product, it was a Scooter Libby product, it was a Vice President's office product. It was a product of collusion between that group. And it had no way of standing up, anywhere, I mean it was nuts.” [Bamford, 2004, pp 368-9] One item in the White House's original draft alleged that Iraq had obtained software from an Australian company that would provide Iraqis with sensitive information about US topography. The hawks' argument was that Iraqis, using that knowledge, could one day attack the US with biological or chemical weapons deployed from unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). But when Powell's intelligence team investigated the issue, it became “clear that the information was not ironclad.” (see October 1, 2002) [US News and World Report, 6/9/03 Sources: Unnamed senior source] Summing it up, one official will later explain, “We were so appalled at what had arrived from the White House.” [Vanity Fair, 5/2004, pg 230.]
People and organizations involved: Larry Wilkerson, Ahmed Chalabi, Colin Powell
          

February 1, 2003-February 4, 2003      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       On February 1, Secretary of State Colin Powell begins rehearsing for his February 5 presentation to the UN Security Council (see 10:30 a.m. February 5, 2003) in which he will argue that Iraq represents a serious and imminent threat to the US. Powell is assisted by members of his staff, including his chief of staff, Larry Wilkerson, and Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage. [US News and World Report, 6/9/2003; Bamford, 2004, pp 368-9; Gentlemen's Quarterly (GQ), 4/29/2004] Several members of the White House Iraq Group drop in during the pre-speech sessions, including Condoleezza Rice, Stephen Hadley, and Lewis Libby. George Tenet and his deputy director, John McLaughlin, are also present at times. [Bamford, 2004, pp 369; Vanity Fair, 5/2004, pg 230] Cheney's staff continues to pressure Powell to include several unsubstantiated and dubious allegations. The allegations that are most contested are the ones dealing with Iraq's alleged ties to terrorism. For example, the group insists that Powell “link Iraq directly to the 9/11 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington” and include the widely discredited allegation (see October 21, 2002) that Mohammed Atta had met in Prague with an Iraqi intelligence officer (see April 8, 2001). [Vanity Fair, 5/2004, pg 230.; US News and World Report, 6/9/2003] But Powell and his staff reject a good portion of the hawks' material. At one point, Powell reportedly says, “I'm not reading this. This is bullsh_t.” [US News and World Report, 6/9/03; Vanity Fair, 5/2004, pg 230] An official later recalls: “On a number of occasions, ... [Powell] simply said, ‘I'm not using that, I'm not using that, that is not good enough. That's not something that I can support.’ And on each occasion he was fought by the vice president's office in the person of Scooter Libby, by the National Security Advisor [Condoleezza Rice] herself, by her deputy [Steve Hadley], and sometimes by the intelligence people—George [Tenet] and [Deputy CIA Director] John [McLaughlin].” [Bamford, 2004, pp 370] “[W]e fought tooth and nail with other members of the administration to scrub it and get the crap out,” Larry Wilkerson, Powell's Chief of Staff later tells GQ. [Gentlemen's Quarterly (GQ), 4/29/2004] In some instances, material rejected by Powell occasionally reappear in subsequent versions of the speech. “One of the most outrageous ones was the Mohammed Atta meeting in Prague. Steve Hadley on one occasion [put] it back in. We cut it and somehow it got back in. And the secretary said, ‘I thought I cut this?’ And Steve Hadley looked around and said, ‘My fault, Mr. Secretary, I'll put it back in.’ ‘Well, cut it, permanently!’ yelled Powell. It was all cartoon. The specious connection between al-Qaeda and Saddam Hussein, much of which I subsequently found came probably from the INC and from their sources, defectors and so forth, [regarding the] training in Iraq for terrorists. ... No question in my mind that some of the sources that we were using were probably Israeli intelligence. That was one thing that was rarely revealed to us—if it was a foreign source.” [Bamford, 2004, pp 370-1]
People and organizations involved: Stephen Hadley, Larry Wilkerson, Condoleezza Rice, George Tenet, John E. McLaughlin, Richard Armitage, White House Iraq Group, Lewis ("Scooter") Libby, Colin Powell
          

2:00 a.m. February 5, 2003      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       Director of Central Intelligence George Tenet calls Colin Powell's hotel room at the Waldorf-Astoria hotel in New York City. Powell's chief of staff, Larry Wilkerson picks up the phone. Tenet says that he is concerned that too much has been cut from Powell's speech and tells Wilkerson that he wants to take one last look at the final draft. A copy of the speech is quickly sent to Tenet who is staying at another hotel. [Vanity Fair, 5/2004, pg 230-31]
People and organizations involved: George Tenet, Lewis ("Scooter") Libby, Larry Wilkerson
          

(10:00 a.m.) February 5, 2003      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       Dick Cheney's chief of staff, Lewis “Scooter” Libby, attempts to telephone Colin Powell's chief of staff, Larry Wilkerson, in order to persuade Powell to link Saddam Hussein to al-Qaeda and include the widely discredited claim (see October 21, 2002) that Mohammed Atta had met in Prague with an Iraqi intelligence officer in April 2001 (see April 8, 2001). Wilkerson refuses to take the call. “Scooter,” one State Department aide later explains to Vanity Fair magazine, “wasn't happy.” [Vanity Fair, 5/2004, pg 232]
People and organizations involved: Larry Wilkerson, Lewis ("Scooter") Libby, Colin Powell
          

October 2005      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       Speaking at the New America Foundation, Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, the former chief of staff to former Secretary of State Colin Powell, argues that power in Washington has become so concentrated, and the inter-agency processes within the Federal government so degraded that the government is no longer capable of responding competently to threatening events—whether such events are natural disasters or international conflicts. He describes how successive administrations over the last five decades have damaged the national security decision-making process and warns that new legislation is desperately needed to force transparency on the process and restore checks and balances within the federal bureaucracy. The process has hit a nadir with the Bush administration, he says, whose secrecy and disregard for inter-agency processes has resulted in disastrous policies, such as those toward Iraq, North Korea, and Iran, and the policies that resulted in the prisoner abuse scandal at Abu Ghraib. “Fundamental decisions about foreign policy should not be made in secret,” he says. This approach to government also contributed to the failures in responding to hurricanes Katrina and Rita. “Decisions that send men and women to die, decisions that have the potential to send men and women to die, decisions that confront situations like natural disasters and cause needless death or cause people to suffer misery that they shouldn't have to suffer, domestic and international decisions, should not be made in a secret way.” His speech includes a very direct and open attack on the Bush administration. “What I saw was a cabal between the Vice President of the United States, Richard Cheney, and the Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, on critical issues that made decisions that the bureaucracy did not know were being made. And then when the bureaucracy was presented with those decisions and carried them out, it was presented in such a disjointed incredible way that the bureaucracy often didn't know what it was doing as it moved to carry them out. ” [Financial Times, 10/20/2005 Sources: Transcript: Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson Speech to New America Foundation]
People and organizations involved: Larry Wilkerson, Donald Rumsfeld, Richard ("Dick") Cheney
          

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