Ex-Powell Aide: Dick Cheney Was Practically President, Fears War Crime Prosecution

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Photo: Tom Pennington/Getty Images

Colin Powell's former chief of staff, Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, calls Dick Cheney a "very vindictive person" in reference to the former vice-president's head-exploding new memoir, In My Time, and guesses that Cheney's aggression is a defensive tactic:

"He's developed an angst and almost a protective cover, and now he fears being tried as a war criminal so he uses such terminology as 'exploding heads all over Washington' because that's the way someone who's decided he's not going to be prosecuted acts: boldly, let's get out in front of everybody, let's act like we are not concerned and so forth when in fact they are covering up their own fear that somebody will Pinochet him," Wilkerson said alluding to the former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, who was arrested for war crimes.

Powell himself said the book is full of "cheap shots," but his ex-aide was more pointed in a sharp, lengthy rant to ABC News.

"He wanted desperately to be president of the United States," Wilkerson explained. "[H]e knew the Texas governor was not steeped in anything but baseball, so he knew he was going to be president and I think he got his dream. He was president for all practical purposes for the first term of the Bush administration."

Although Wilkerson praised Cheney's job as Secretary of Defense in the first Bush administration, "I simply don't recognize Mr. Cheney anymore," he said. "Something happened to Dick Cheney and it wasn't just 9/11." Maybe it was the five heart attacks and subsequent installation of machine parts.

Former Powell Chief of Staff: Cheney "Fears Being Tried as a War Criminal" [ABC News]