General Colin Powell
Dr. Condoleezza Rice
The first two Black Secretaries of State dismiss the former vice president’s version of events in his book as “cheap shots” and misleading
General Colin Powell, former Secretary of State
Former Secretary of State Colin Powell has dismissed as “cheap shots” the criticism leveled at him and others in Vice President Dick Cheney’s memoir.
It was the latest volley in a clash that stretches back to their first years in the George W. Bush administration.
Powell went so far as to say that if Cheney’s staff and others in Bush’s White House had been as forthcoming as the State Department in the case involving CIA operative Valerie Plame, the indictment and conviction of Cheney’s friend and former chief of staff never would have happened.
Powell made the remarks on CBS’ “Face the Nation” ahead of the release of Cheney’s book, “In My Time: A Personal and Political Memoir.” Cheney said in an earlier NBC interview that the book would cause “heads to explode” in Washington, a description Powell said he expected from a supermarket tabloid and not a former vice president.
“My head isn’t exploding. I haven’t noticed any other heads exploding in Washington,” Powell said. “From what I’ve read in the newspapers and seen on television, it’s essentially a rehash of events of seven or eight years ago.”
Cheney and Powell had numerous disagreements in the administration, particularly over policy toward Iraq and the run-up to the 2003 invasion by U.S.-led forces. Still, Powell termed “nonsense” Cheney’s description of how Powell went outside with his criticism of administration policies.
Powell also suggested that Cheney wrongly took credit for Powell’s resignation from the State Department in 2004; Powell said he had always planned to serve only four years. He labeled as “almost condescending” the tone of Cheney’s criticism of Condoleezza Rice, who succeeded him as secretary of state.
“Mr. Cheney has had a long and distinguished career and I hope in his book that’s what he will focus on, not these cheap shots that he’s taking at me and other members of the administration, who served to the best of our ability for President Bush,” Powell said.
On the Plame matter, Powell said Cheney tries to “lay it all off” on Powell and Richard Armitage, the deputy secretary of state under Powell.
Cheney’s former chief of staff, I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, was convicted of perjury, obstruction and lying to the FBI during its investigation into who leaked to the news media that Plame, the wife of a former ambassador critical of the Bush administration, worked for the CIA.
Powell said that when Armitage realized he was the anonymous source cited by syndicated columnist Robert Novak in an article that revealed Plame’s CIA connection, Armitage contacted Powell, and they spoke to the Justice Department and the FBI for the probe ordered by Bush.
“If the White House and the operatives in the White House–on Mr. Cheney’s staff and elsewhere in the White House–had been as forthcoming with the FBI as Mr. Armitage was, this problem would not have reached the dimensions that it reached,” Powell said.
Instead, Powell said that the FBI continued for two more months trying to find out what had happened in the White House and that a special counsel ended up conducting a two-year probe of what he called a “mess.”
DR. CONDOLEEZZA RICE, former Secretary of State
Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is the third senior official from President George W. Bush’s administration to accuse Dick Cheney of lying in his new memoir, “In My Time.”
Rice told Reuters in an interview Wednesday that she “kept the president fully and completely informed about every ‘in and out’ of the negotiations with the North Koreans,” countering the former vice president’s assertion that Rice misled the president about nuclear diplomacy with North Korea.
“You can talk about policy differences without suggesting that your colleague somehow misled the president,” Rice said. “You know, I don’t appreciate the attack on my integrity that that implies.”
Rice also disputed Cheney’s assertion that Rice “tearfully admitted” she was wrong for wanting the administration to apologize for President Bush’s claim in the 2003 State of the Union that Iraq was searching for uranium for nuclear weapons.
“It certainly doesn’t sound like me, now, does it?” Rice said. “I would never–I don’t remember coming to the vice president tearfully about anything in the entire eight years that I knew him.”
Rice admitted that she told Cheney he had been correct about the press reaction to the uranium claim.
Rice is the third former official from George W. Bush’s State Department to dispute parts of Cheney’s memoir, which was published on Tuesday.
The book has provoked rebukes this week from former Secretary of State Colin Powell, as well as Powell’s former chief of staff Lawrence Wilkerson.
In an interview with “Democracy Now!” on Tuesday, Wilkerson asserted that Cheney’s fears of being tried as a war criminal influenced how the former vice president characterized situations in his memoir.
“This is a book written out of fear, fear that one day someone will ‘Pinochet’ Dick Cheney,” Wilkerson said, referring to Augusto Pinochet, the former Chilean dictator who was charged for war crimes.
Wilkerson said it was “utter nonsense” for Cheney to claim to have anything to do with Powell’s resignation.
“The only person Cheney does not seem to find fault with is Cheney,” Wilkerson said.
Wilkerson said he regrets not resigning for putting together Powell’s February 2003 presentation to the United Nations on the supposed presence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.
Creating that presentation “was probably the biggest mistake of my life,” he said.