In the mid-1990s he was respected on all sides, considered wise, moderate, and statesmanlike. When Powell announced his decision not to run for President in 1996 (like Eisenhower, the mainly non-political Powell had been courted by both Republicans and Democrats), it was a landmark moment.
This week he finished the trip from hero to late-night punch line to national disgrace, thanks to the leaked accounts showing that Powell was one of the Principals Committee, along with Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice, Tenet, and Ashcroft, who, in meetings beginning in 2002, carefully worked out the system under which torture would thereafter be carried out by the United States of America. Never questioning if it would be or should be carried out, note well--simply working out the procedural minutiae necessary for it to achieve maximum effect.
Will Bunch writes:
Well, I can't wait for Powell's next Barbara Walters appearance so he tell us how he pleaded with Cheney and the others not to do this, either. Give me a break. Anyone who sat in those meetings and didn't stop America on the path to torture is just as guilty as those who proposed it in the first place. And that includes not only Powell but former attorney general John Ashcroft, whose reported quote that "History will not judge this kindly" will be in your grandchild's textbook.
First medicinal wine from a teaspoon, then beer from a bottle, eh, General?
When the Center for Public Integrity undertook the unenviable task of tallying the number of false public statements ("lies," in the vernacular) made by the seven top members of the Bush Administration in the run-up to the Iraq invasion in 2003, Colin Powell --t hat delicate flower with his quivering, hair-like ethical sensibilities, who considered his knowingly dishonest February 2003 presentation to the UN to be, in hindsight, a "blot," who insisted that carrying out policies he later claimed not to believe in at the time somehow made him principled -- that Colin Powell racked up 244 documentably false public statements about Iraq. That achievement placed him second only to Bush himself, with 252.