Is it Fascism, Yet?
DAVID BRANCACCIO: The then director of the CIA, George Tenent, Vice President Cheney’s deputy Libby, told you that the intelligence that was the basis of going to war was rock solid. Given what you now know, how does that make you feel?
COLONEL WILKERSON: It makes me feel terrible. My participation in that presentation at the UN constitutes the lowest point in my professional life.
I participated in a hoax on the American people, the international community and the United Nations Security Council. How do you think that makes me feel? Thirty-one years in the United States Army and I more or less end my career with that kind of a blot on my record? That’s not a very comforting thing.
DAVID BRANCACCIO: A hoax? That’s quite a word.
COLONEL WILKERSON: Well, let’s face it, it was. … [and] Suppose we get people [in the White House] who can’t make good decisions as FDR was pretty good at. I’m worried and I would rather have the discussion and debate in the process we’ve designed than I would a dictate from a dumb strongman. And that dumb strongman is [FDR’s] felicitous phrase.
DAVID BRANCACCIO: You’re worried that we not have come to that but that we’re heading down this path of–
COLONEL WILKERSON: Oh I think it’s come to that. I think we’ve had some decisions at this administration that were more or less dictates. We’ve had a decision that the Constitution as read by Alberto Gonzales, John Yoo and a few other very selected administration lawyers doesn’t pertain the way it has pertained for 200-plus years. A very ahistorical reading of the Constitution.
Alexander Hamilton [laid] down his markers about the dangers of a dictate-issuing chief executive. This is not the way America was intended to be run by its founders and it is not the interpretation of the Constitution that any of the founders … would have subscribed to.
DAVID BRANCACCIO: And if [dictatorship] were shown to work that might be one thing.
COLONEL WILKERSON: Dictatorships work on occasion. You’re right. Dictatorships do work but I– I’m like Ferdinand Eberstadt. I’d prefer to see the squabble of democracy to the efficiency of dictators.
Colonel, U.S. Army (Retired) Larry Wilkerson was Chief of Staff at George W. Bush’s Department of State from August 2002 to January 2005 joined General Colin L. Powell in March 1989 at the U.S. Army’s Forces Command in Atlanta, Georgia as his Deputy Executive Officer. He followed the General to his next position as Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, serving as his special assistant. Upon Powell’s retirement from active service in 1993, Colonel Wilkerson served as the Deputy Director and Director of the U.S. Marine Corps War College at Quantico, Virginia.