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Colin Luther Powell (1937–) is a retired Four Star General of the United States Army and the first African-American to serve as the Secretary of State. Powell in particular served under Bush and was responsible for selling the now infamous lie that "Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction" to the UN prior to the catastrophe that was the Iraq War. He also served as Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff under George H. W. Bush during the Gulf War.
As a general
During his tenure as head of the Joint Chief of Staff, Powell had to deal with over 24 different crises, including the 1989 Invasion of Panama to overthrow the Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega, and Operation Desert Storm during the aforementioned 1991 Gulf War. Powell was known for his reluctance to use military power as a weapon of first resort, instead preferring to utilize diplomacy instead. This has earned Powell the epithet "Reluctant Warrior," as Powell's military stratagem revolved around maximizing success while minimizing casualties.
“”My colleagues, every statement I make today is backed up by sources, solid sources. These are not assertions. What we’re giving you are facts and conclusions based on solid intelligence.
|—Secretary Powell before the UN, 2003.|
“”I wonder how we’ll all feel if we put half a million troops in Iraq and march from one end of the country to the other and find nothing.
|—Secretary Powell in private, as quoted by his chief of staff.|
Powell was Secretary of State while Bush was POTUS, and hence was suckered into invading a country that had absolutely nothing to do with 9/11 in the first place. Powell initially opposed deposing Saddam, but he ultimately acquiesced to Shrub's demands. Powell was tasked with presenting the case for invading Iraq to the UN General Assembly, and he dutifully went ahead.
His 2003 speech to the UN is now as infamous as it was farcical. During his presentation he stated that he believed "without a doubt Saddam is conducting biological weapons programs", citing anonymous "Iraqi defectors" as his sources. In an amusing twist, though, it turned out that Powell's "source" was a plagiarized paper from an unaccredited Iraqi-American graduate student. That's not the end of the absurdity. In one section of the presentation, he mentioned Iraqi-based terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's name 21 times in an attempt to establish him as the link between Iraq and Al-Qaeda. The first problem was that Zarqawi was a nobody who had met with Bin Laden maybe once ever and was considered a piss-poor recruiter by his superiors. The second problem was that Powell's speech turned Zarqawi into a fucking celebrity and greatly improved his ability to build Al-Qaeda's ground presence in the country, especially after the invasion. He also used the memory of the 2001 anthrax attacks to stir up fear over what Iraq could do with a similar weapon and that perhaps Iraq had even been responsible. The problem? Shortly after the attacks, the FBI hired microbiologist Paul Keim to investigate, and he proved that Iraq was not responsible. The Bush administration ignored this finding, and anthrax became an issue in Powell's speech years later. The rest of Powell's speech was filled with omissions, mis-translations from Arabic, and faulty intelligence.
Powell later resigned from the position of Secretary of State, however even after resigning he continues to support the war in Iraq. Although clarifying that he opposed the decision to go to war in the first place, he still stands by Bush's fateful and awful decision.
- Secretary of State Colin Powell from the George W. Bush White House Archives.
- "The Reluctant Warrior" — The Guardian
- Lie After Lie: What Colin Powell Knew About Iraq 15 Years Ago And What He Told The U.N. The Intercept.
- Sec. Powell's remarks to the UN Assembly"
- "UK accused of lifting dossier from grad student" — CNN
- Colin Powell: U.N. Speech “Was a Great Intelligence Failure”. PBS.
- Did the Anthrax Attacks Kick-Start the Iraq War? WIRED.
- "Conversation with Colin Powell" (PDF). Aspen Ideas Festival. July 2007. http://www.aifestival.org/library/transcript/Powell-Lehrer_transcript.pdf. Retrieved February 22, 2008.