JESSICA DESVARIEUX, TRNN PRODUCER: Welcome to The Real News Network. I’m Jessica Desvarieux in Baltimore. And welcome to another edition of The Wilkerson Report.
Now joining us is Larry Wilkerson. He is the former chief of staff of U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell. He’s also currently an adjunct professor of government at the College of William & Mary and a regular contributor to The Real News.
Thanks for being with us, Larry.
COL. LAWRENCE WILKERSON, FMR. CHIEF OF STAFF TO COLIN POWELL: Thanks for having me, Jessica.
DESVARIEUX: So, Larry, as you know, The Real News has been reporting on how the CIA was spying on the Senate Intelligence Committee, which was investigating the CIA’s torture program instituted under George W. Bush. Now the report’s conclusion has been leaked, and it turns out that the committee believes torture methods played little to no role in the intelligence gathering that led to the killing of Osama bin Laden. So, Larry, what’s your reaction to the leak?
WILKERSON: I think that’s probably accurate—my sources tell me it is, anyway. And I think it’s more comprehensive than that. I think it’s not just bin Laden but it’s intelligence in general has been little if any helped by what were called expanded interrogation techniques.
I think the dilemma that the CIA institutionally has right now is that its own internal investigation of essentially the same thing, called the Panetta Report, verifies the Senate Select Committee’s report of more than 6,000 pages—300 pages plus of executive summary. So the CIA certainly doesn’t want the Panetta Report to get any way public. They probably don’t want the Senate report to go public either. And the fact that the internal investigation—the Panetta Report—and the Senate’s report more or less parallel each other must be driving the leadership of the CIA (especially John Brennan, since he’s, I think, implicated in this) pretty much crazy.
DESVARIEUX: So I know it sounds like an obvious question, but why would the CIA try to suppress the conclusion of this report? You mentioned John Brennan, but who else in particular has interests in keeping this report withheld?
WILKERSON: I think there are lawyers at the CIA, and perhaps elsewhere—certainly there are six lawyers in the system of George W. Bush’s, shall we say, departure from the law, people like Douglas Feith, David Addington, John Yoo, Jay Bybee, and so forth, and there are operators, people like those who were overjoyed that the tapes of certain interrogations were destroyed, because those tapes would have very vividly, very dramatically confirmed what these reports are talking about when they talk about torture.
DESVARIEUX: Do you think President Obama will be compelled to pursue an investigation into these officials who sanctioned or carried out torture?
WILKERSON: That’s the question, Jessica. He certainly didn’t feel compelled when he first took over. Now he might have more reason to feel compelled in a number of ways. But he’s also got more fealty, if you will, to people like John Brennan and others associated with this process. So he’s sort of hoisted on his own petard right now. He didn’t take action in the beginning when he should have, at least to open a thorough investigation. He now has the reports of two different investigations—the CIA, the internal one, the Panetta Report; and the SSCI, the Senate Select Committee report. And those are rather damning, I think.
And so what’s he going to do? As I said, he’s in a very difficult situation.
DESVARIEUX: Alright. Larry Wilkerson, always a pleasure having you on. Thanks for joining us.
WILKERSON: Thanks, Jessica. Glad I could join you.
DESVARIEUX: And thank you for joining us on The Real News Network.