WASHINGTON (CNN) - Former Secretary of State Colin Powell said Tuesday that he has been the victim of racial profiling but believes Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. could have been more patient with the police officer who arrested him.
At the same time, Powell also faulted the Cambridge (Massachusetts) Police Department for escalating the situation beyond a reasonable level.
"I think Skip [Gates], perhaps in this instance, might have waited a while, come outside, talked to the officer and that might have been the end of it," Powell said in an interview with CNN's Larry King. "I think he should have reflected on whether or not this was the time to make that big a deal.
"I think in this case the situation was made much more difficult on the part of the Cambridge Police Department," Powell said. "Once they felt they had to bring Dr. Gates out of the house and to handcuff him, I would've thought at that point, some adult supervision would have stepped in and said 'OK look, it is his house. Let's not take this any further, take the handcuffs off, good night Dr. Gates.'"
“What we can’t continue to have is to have somebody like a Judge Sotomayor, who is announced, and based on one simple, tricky but nonetheless case that the Supreme Court has now decided, have her called a racist or a reverse racist, and she ought to withdraw her nomination because we’re mad at her,” Powell said Sunday in an interview that aired on CNN’s State of the Union.
“She seems like a very gifted and accomplished woman,” Powell also told CNN Chief National Correspondent John King. “She certainly has an open and liberal bent of mind, but that’s not disqualifying. But she seems to have a judicial record that seems to be balanced and tries to follow the law. And so I hope we do have a spirited set of hearings.”
“And, she ought to be asked about everything from both the left and the right,” Powell said of the woman who would become the first Latina on the nation’s highest court if confirmed by the Senate.
Pointing to his own life, Powell also weighed in on the issue of affirmative action more generally – an issue likely to be a focus of Sotomayor’s upcoming confirmation hearings.
“You don’t have an obligation to bring in anybody who’s not able to do the work. You should always have qualifications. But once you have those qualifications, is there something wrong with a taxpayer-funded institution not making sure that it is representing the entire public, the entire population? And I think that’s a good rule for private institutions as well.
Call it affirmative action. Call it diversity. It goes under lots of different names.
“I have a hunch that maybe 55 years ago, somebody took a look at my rather mediocre high school grades, but at the same time thought ‘maybe this kid can make it.’ And they let me in the City College of New York.”
“A dictator is gone. A despicable regime is gone,” the former Secretary of State under George W. Bush said Sunday in an interview that aired on CNN’s State of the Union. “And the Iraqi people have been given a chance to have a representative form of government, living in peace with its neighbors. We’ll have to see what history's judgment of that will be.”
The retired general also gave his take on recent celebrations in Iraq as a deadline passed for U.S. troops withdrew from the country’s major cities.
“I think we should just pocket this,” Powell told CNN Chief National Correspondent John King about celebrations in the streets that heralded the U.S. pull-back.
“They are happy. They have made it clear from the very beginning that they wanted to be free and independent. And they didn’t want to be an occupied nation, which they were when we were there, and now that is starting to change.
“But this is not yet over. . . . it’s now up to the Iraqis to solidify their representative government system and make sure they have the security forces that can handle all of this.”
“They’re now responsible for their own destiny,” Powell added.
"I'm a little concerned," former Secretary of State Colin Powell says. "I'm concerned at the number of programs that are being presented, the bills associated with these programs and the additional government that will be needed to execute them."
Powell also seems to sound a note of warning to the young president.
"I think one of the cautions that has to be given to the president - and I've talked to some of his people about this - is that you can't have so many things on the table that you can't absorb it all. And we can't pay for it all."
"He was a great entertainer and he crossed so many lines with his skill and the skill of his brothers," Powell says, "I always remember him most vividly as a young boy with his brothers - the Jackson 5. These fresh, exciting kids with the 'fro's in the early '70s and singing those wonderful songs."
"But that is what I remember about Michael. During the heyday when he was doing 'Thriller' and the other things I was either in Vietnam or Korea or somewhere. So he's not quite of my generation, but his art spanned three generations and is worthy of all the tribute that he is receiving for his art.
"Yes, there were some challenges in his life. Yes, there was a great deal of controversy about him. But he's now passed on. Let's celebrate his art."
"July 4th still represents a remarkable date for us to stall or stop and reflect on what our founding fathers achieved on July 4 of 1776," says the former general, "And the noble sentiment they gave to the rest of the world that all men are created equal and that governments serve the people. And the people serve the nation."
"So, on July 4th, let's as we were told by our founding fathers, shoot rockets and celebrate and let the bombs go off and celebrate and praise our flag," he says. "But let's not forget that the freedom we enjoy, the freedom that we declared that we would have in 1776, still has to be won every single day and it's won by all of us, but especially by these young men and women in uniform."