Former US president George W. Bush and his top aides were accused Friday of covering up that many Guantanamo Bay detainees were innocent, amid fears releasing them could harm the 'war on terror'.
The allegations were made in a document by Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, once chief of staff to Bush's first secretary of state, Colin Powell, in a lawsuit filed by a former Guantanamo inmate and published by The Times in London.
Wilkerson alleged Bush's vice president, Dick Cheney, and defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld knew that most detainees held at the US detention camp in 2002 were innocent but believed it was "politically impossible to release them".
They were also keen to avoid revealing the "incredibly confused" detention operation, Wilkerson said, claiming prisoners were often rounded up by Afghan and Pakistani forces in return for cash, with little or no evidence as to why.
He alleged Cheney "had absolutely no concern that the vast majority of Guantanamo detainees were innocent... If hundreds of innocent individuals had to suffer in order to detain a handful of hardcore terrorists, so be it".