Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, Chief of Staff to Colin Powell, Says Saudi Leads Never Thoroughly Investigated
By Brian P. McGlinchey
In his September 20, 2001 address to a joint session of Congress, President George W. Bush laid out a defining principle of his nascent war on terror: “We will pursue nations that provide aid or safe haven to terrorism. Every nation, in every region, now has a decision to make. Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists.”
Even as he spoke those words, however, his administration had already embarked on a course that would mark them as a towering example of U.S. foreign policy hypocrisy. The Bush White House would soon present false claims linking 9/11 to Iraq, while simultaneously hiding credible evidence implicating Saudi Arabia—evidence summarized in the final, 28-page chapter of a 2002 joint congressional intelligence inquiry into 9/11.
Bush demanded the 28 pages be kept from the American public, and it’s increasingly clear why: As former State Department official Lawrence Wilkerson tells 28Pages.org, to a White House bent on selling an invasion of Iraq, compelling evidence of Saudi complicity in the attacks was an unwelcome distraction.
“You Talked About It At Your Peril”
“They wanted to go to war with Iraq. Anything that supported al Qaeda connections with Baghdad, therefore, was good. Saudi Arabia just confused things so keep that out of it,” says Wilkerson, who served in the Bush administration as chief of staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell. “That wasn’t so much an effort to protect the Saudis, I don’t think, as it was an effort to justify the war with Iraq.”
The chilling effect on discussion of Saudi government links to 9/11 wasn’t confined to public statements—Wilkerson says the topic was taboo even within the Bush administration.
“It was verboten. It really was. You talked about it at your peril. You understood that the White House was going to close down anything associated with that sort of talk, so to what avail were you going to do it. I think one of the byproducts of (Vice President Dick) Cheney’s unprecedented eleven visits to CIA was to impress upon the most prominent of the intelligence agencies—and of course the Director of Central Intelligence himself—that you don’t want to go there,” says Wilkerson.
In other words, Saudi Arabia’s absence from the official 9/11 narrative was deliberate: “It wasn’t just passivity, it was action to prevent that from becoming a message,” he says.
To Wilkerson, the 28 pages—which detail direct and indirect links from the hijackers and other al Qaeda members to various Saudi government employees and even the Saudi ambassador to the United States—point to at least some degree of Saudi government attachment to the 9/11 attack.
“All of these people probably were agents of Saudi intelligence in addition to being the sort of suspicious characters, or more than just suspicious characters, associated with al Qaeda. If they were working for Saudi intelligence, don’t tell me the government or some institutional aspect of the government didn’t know about it,” says Wilkerson, who retired from the Army as a colonel before serving in the State Department.
Real Intelligence Suppressed, Phony Intelligence Elevated
Regardless of how strong the evidence pointing toward Saudi Arabia, Wilkerson says Cheney effectively dampened discussion of it—even within the intelligence community that was charged with rooting out those who enabled 9/11.