Columnist says Bush administration fears Powell will emerge as anti-war critic
Of all the former Bush administration officials whose advice was ignored -- to disastrous effect -- in the run-up to the Iraq war, Colin Powell has remained the most stoic and unwilling to criticize what others have called a lack of planning and overall mismanagement that led America to its current predicament.
A column published Thursday suggests that all could change at a most inopportune time for the administration, as it prepares to release its second surge-related progress report next month.
"Powell is the White House's ticking-time-bomb scenario," Sidney Blumenthal writes in Salon. "He was Petraeus before Petraeus, the good soldier before the good soldier, window-dressing before window-dressing. The White House aides' fear of Powell reflects their guilt, if not their stricken consciences, over his disposal. Powell was used, ruined and tossed overboard. His warnings were ignored, his loyalty was abused, and when he no longer served Bush's purposes he was unceremoniously discarded."
Blumenthal notes Feb. 5, 2003, the date of Powell's infamous United Nations presentation, "will live in mendacity, for every statement he made was later revealed to be false."
A recently released documentary, "No End in Sight," featured devastating interviews with three of Powell's former aides and associates who were involved with Iraq's reconstruction. RAW STORY previously published an exclusive excerpt of the film.
Blumenthal predicts the criticisms from Powell's former inner circle -- chief of staff, Col. Lawrence Wilkerson; his former deputy, Richard Armitage; and former U.S. ambassador Barbara Bodine -- could foreshadow the former Secretary of State's personal criticisms of the war.
"Armitage's debut in particular has the White House fuming and fretting that it somehow signals Powell's emergence as a full-throated critic in the middle of the September P.R. offensive," Blumenthal writes.
Sources close to National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley tell Blumenthal he "has voiced anger and concern about whether Powell will step forward and what he might say, and other presidential aides are wondering how to cope with that nightmarish possibility."
In a June appearance on Meet the Press, Powell was critical of the troop surge, Blumenthal notes, but otherwise he has strayed from criticizing the decisions he witnessed in the run-up to war.
"Powell's absence cedes the political terrain to those who ousted him from office," Blumenthal writes. "Notwithstanding his tarnished reputation, he has a final chance to regain his dignity and at least some of his previous standing by stepping forward at the crucial hour."