Powell Tried to Warn Bush on Iraq, Book Says




 
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Powell Tried to Warn Bush on Iraq, Book Says
 
October 1st, 2006  
Team Infidel
 
 

Topic: Powell Tried to Warn Bush on Iraq, Book Says


Powell Tried to Warn Bush on Iraq, Book Says
Media: New York Times
Byline: JOHN M. BRODER
Date: September 30, 2006


WASHINGTON, Sept. 30 - Colin L. Powell, in his last face-to-face meeting
with President Bush before stepping down as secretary of state in January
2005, tried to impress upon him one last time the dangers he saw the United
States facing in Iraq, according to a new Powell biography.

The insurgency was growing and the country was spiraling into sectarian
bloodshed, Mr. Powell warned. Elections in Iraq would not solve the
problems, and the president's ability to act decisively was being crippled
by divisions within his own administration, according to the account in
"Soldier: The Life of Colin Powell" (Knopf, 2006) by Karen DeYoung, an
associate editor at The Washington Post. Mr. Bush appeared disengaged, the
book says, and brushed off Mr. Powell's complaints about dysfunction in his
government.

The book is among the latest accounts of the divisions in the administration
as it hurtled toward war and stumbled through its aftermath. The Powell
biography provides further detail on his early misgivings about the war and
the size of the force assembled to fight it, doubts that have been reported
in several other books, including those by Ms. DeYoung's colleague at The
Post, Bob Woodward.

Despite his doubts, however, Mr. Powell never threatened to resign or go
public with his complaints, according to these accounts, because such acts
would betray the ethic of the loyal soldier he felt he was.

A 7,600-word excerpt from the Powell biography appears in Sunday's
Washington Post Magazine. The book's publication date is Oct. 10.

Mr. Powell, who gave Ms. DeYoung several interviews for her book and
encouraged others to cooperate, said in a telephone interview on Saturday
that he had not read the book or the excerpts. He did not take issue with
portions read to him, except to question the context of one anecdote
involving an exchange with Vice President Dick Cheney.

"The real issue right now is not the various books that are out but how
things are going in Iraq and Afghanistan," Mr. Powell said. He would not
share his views on the current state of affairs there, however.

A White House spokesman said officials there had not read the book and would
not comment.

Since leaving office last year, Mr. Powell has kept his views to himself,
with a few notable exceptions. He was openly critical of the
administration's response to Hurricane Katrina last year and weighed in
vigorously in the debate over treatment of detainees in the war on terror.

He has quietly cooperated with Ms. DeYoung, Mr. Woodward and other authors,
while keeping his counsel in public on Iraq, the broader war on terrorism
and the diplomatic struggles of his successor at the State Department,
Condoleezza Rice. He does not want to undermine the president, but he also
wants to make sure that his point of view is accurately reflected in
histories, associates said.

"It's a matter of behaving with dignity when you're out of office," said
Richard L. Armitage, Mr. Powell's former deputy and his closest confidant.
"You don't want to be seen as criticizing those who took your place. On
differences of principle, like the Geneva Conventions, he will speak out. On
differences of approach, he probably will not."

In answer to those who ask why he has not been more outspoken, Mr. Powell
generally replies, "There's a war on."

The common thread of many of the recent accounts is of warnings ignored
about flaws in the prewar intelligence, in the war-fighting doctrine and in
plans for occupying the shattered country. Tony Snow, the White House press
secretary, dismissed some of these accounts as the grumblings of people on
the losing side of internal arguments.

The Powell biography fleshes out a tale already widely known in Washington
of infighting among Mr. Powell, Mr. Cheney and Donald H. Rumsfeld, the
secretary of defense. Mr. Powell, who served as secretary of state through
Mr. Bush's first term, came out on the losing end of the majority of their
arguments.

The book provides an inside account of the preparation for Mr. Powell's
pivotal presentation before the United Nations six weeks before the start of
the Iraq war in March 2003. Mr. Powell told Ms. DeYoung that he spent much
of the five days he had to prepare for the presentation "trimming the
garbage" that Mr. Cheney's staff had provided by way of evidence of Iraq's
weapons programs and ties to Al Qaeda.

Mr. Powell later conceded that the United Nations speech was full of
falsehoods and distorted intelligence and was a "blot" on his record.

Running throughout this book and other recent accounts are the defeats and
humiliations Mr. Powell suffered in service to Mr. Bush. Though Mr. Powell
remained an admired figure in America, it was not enough to protect him
against attacks.

"There are people who would like to take me down," he is quoted as saying
while motioning toward the White House during his last year in office. "It's
been the case since I was appointed. By take down, I mean, 'keep him in his
place.' "
 


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