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Former State official says Cheney office encouraged detainee abuse

[JURIST] A former top US State Department official has charged that US Vice President Dick Cheney [official profile; JURIST news archive] and his staff were responsible for directives leading to abuse of detainees by US troops in Iraq and Afghanistan and for preventing President Bush from seeing a memo which recommended more troops for the 2003 "liberation" of Iraq. Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson [official profile], onetime chief of staff for former Secretary of State Colin Powell, told National Public Radio (NPR) [official website; interview] Wednesday that a trail of memos and directives encouraging questionable detention practices led from Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld's office directly to Cheney's staff. Despite a 2002 order by President George W. Bush calling on the US military to abide by principles consistent with the Geneva Conventions [text] against torture, the Secretary of Defense through the Vice President's office and staff, "began to authorize procedures within the armed forces that led to what we've seen," Wilkerson said. Wilkerson said that in particular Cheney legal counsel David Addington [profile] - promoted on Monday to be the Vice President's new chief of staff replacing the indicted Lewis Libby, was "a staunch advocate of allowing the president in his capacity as commander-in-chief to deviate from the Geneva Conventions." Wilkerson also told NPR that Cheney's staff ran an "alternate national security staff" which prevented Bush from seeing a National Security Council [official website] memo strongly urging the US to use far more troops for the March 2003 invasion and occupation of Iraq. AP has more.

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