Colin Powell: Former US secretary of state dies of Covid complications
Former US Secretary of State Colin Powell has died aged 84 of Covid-19 complications, his family has announced.
The Republican was a former top military officer who rose to become the first African-American secretary of state in 2000 under George W Bush.
Powell was a distinguished and trailblazing professional soldier whose career took him from combat duty in Vietnam to becoming the first Black national security adviser during the end of Ronald Reagan’s presidency and the youngest and first African American chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under President George H.W. Bush.
His national popularity soared in the aftermath of the US-led coalition victory during the Gulf War, and for a time in the mid-90s, he was considered a leading contender to become the first Black President of the United States.
But his reputation would be forever stained when, as George W. Bush’s first secretary of state, he pushed faulty intelligence before the United Nations to advocate for the Iraq War, which he would later call a “blot” on his record.
Bush said in a statement Monday that Powell was “a great public servant” who was “such a favourite of Presidents that he earned the Presidential Medal of Freedom — twice.
He was highly respected at home and abroad. And most important, Colin was a family man and a friend.
“Though Powell never mounted a White House bid, when he was sworn in as Bush’s secretary of state in 2001, he became the highest-ranking Black public official to date in the country, standing fourth in the presidential line of succession.
The speech at the UN making the case for war in Iraq, the documented lies that helped bring about that war will always be his legacy.
Colin Powell lied about Iraq having weapons of mass destruction.
Colin Powell delivered his presentation making the case for war with Iraq at the United Nations, on February 5, 2003.
As much criticism as Powell received for this — he’s himself called it “painful” and something that will “always be a part of his record” — it hasn’t been close to what’s justified. Powell, who was secretary of state under President George W. Bush, was much more than just horribly mistaken: He fabricated “evidence” and ignored repeated warnings that what he was saying was false.
The evidence is irrefutable: Powell consciously deceived the world in his 2003 presentation making the case for war with Saddam Hussein. Read more…
Powell asserted that Iraq had WMD in the UN saying intelligence reports backed this information. But, WMD had not been found in Iraq.
Colin Powell was secretary of state under President George W. Bush when America invaded Iraq. Colin Powell delivered his presentation, making a case for war with Iraq at the United Nations on February 5, 2003. During his presentation, he asserted that sources backed up every statement or claim he made. Powell said that he was presenting facts to the United Nations, which have been based on robust intelligence. When he had been asked on the day if Iraq had reconstituted a nuclear weapons program, he replied, saying there was no doubt in his mind. However, the intelligence later confirmed that the program was nonexistent.
History reports that Colin Powell allegedly knew that Iraq did not possess any Weapons of Mass Destruction. He had reportedly received the text of the speech four days before it was to be given, during which time the State Department’s intelligence bureau had raised a host of red flags. Powell’s employees had identified many key claims as weak and highly questionable. Among these questionable assertions were the claims that Iraqi officials had ordered biological weapons removed ahead of UN searches, that Iraq’s conventional missiles appeared fit to carry chemical weapons, and that Hussein possessed mobile labs capable of producing anthrax and other toxins.
In an interview with the Frontline in 2016, Powell said that he had projectors and all sorts of technology to help them make the case in the United Nations in 2003. He justified his stance, saying that the director of central intelligence and his team had vouched for everything that he said on the day, and he did not fabricate any sources. He also said that before going into the United Nations, he and other officials threw out much stuff that was not double- and triple-sourced. He did acknowledge that going to Iraq was a great intelligence failure, and the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) should have been recognized and caught earlier by the intelligence community.
Powell claimed he was delivering “facts and conclusions based on solid intelligence” as he told the UN that Iraq possessed biological weapons. He knew this to be a lie. He had reportedly received the text of the speech four days before it was to be given, during which time the State Department’s intelligence bureau had raised a host of red flags. Powell’s employees had identified many key claims as “weak,” “not credible,” or “highly questionable.” Among these questionable assertions were the claims that Iraqi officials had ordered biological weapons removed ahead of UN searches, that Iraq’s conventional missiles appeared fit to carry chemical weapons, and that Hussein possessed mobile labs capable of producing anthrax and other toxins. The speech cherry-picked testimony from various Iraqi sources, omitting that Hussein’s son-in-law, who had been in charge of Iraq’s WMD program before defecting in 1995, had testified that Iraq had destroyed all of its chemical weapons after the First Gulf War.
Powell’s speech may not have launched the invasion, which began in March, but it justified it to the American public and provided cover for the U.S. with the international community. Though the UN maintained that the invasion of Iraq was illegal, the Bush administration and allies like Tony Blair’s government in Britain felt that Powell’s speech had done the job. In addition to selling the war on false pretences, it also had a disastrous unintended consequence: Powell made 21 mentions of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, calling him the link between Hussein and the Al-Qaeda network that had plotted the 9/11 attacks. In reality, the term Al-Qaeda had not been used by any of its alleged members until after 9/11; it was, in fact, a loose network of likeminded radicals that only congealed into a distinct organization after the United States targeted it. Likewise, Zarqawi had had only fleeting contact with the network before Powell’s speech. After the speech, however, Zarqawi began to amass a stronger following within Iraq, where he became a notorious insurgent leader and greatly escalated the guerrilla war against the United States into an all-out sectarian conflict.