Powell blasts Cheney's 'cheap shots'
August 28th, 2011
04:42 PM ET
10 years ago

Powell blasts Cheney's 'cheap shots'

(CNN) - Former Secretary of State Colin Powell on Sunday responded to criticism leveled at members of the Bush administration by former Vice President Dick Cheney in his new biography, characterizing Cheney's recent comments as "cheap shots."

Cheney takes issue with the actions of Powell, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and former CIA Director George Tenet, among others, in the book titled "In My Time." While promoting the memoir last week, Cheney said there would be "heads exploding all over Washington" when his book hits the shelves Tuesday.

But Powell, a retired Army general, said his head and heads of others in Washington, D.C. aren't exploding.

Calling Cheney's use of sensationalist language more worthy of a supermarket tabloid than a former vice president, Powell said Cheney "had a long and distinguished career, and I hope in his book that is what he will focus on, not these cheap shots that he's taking at me and other members of the administration who served to the best of our ability for President Bush."

According to Powell, Cheney accuses him in the book of not being forthcoming with his opinions to former President George W. Bush ahead of the Iraq War in 2003. On CBS' "Face the Nation," Powell called the critique "nonsense."

"The president knows that I told him what I thought about every issue of the day," Powell said.

At the time, Powell said he told the president, "If you break it, you own it," in reference to the invasion. That was advice he said Cheney "may forget."

"You have got to understand that if we have to go to war in Iraq, we have to be prepared for the whole war, not just the first phase," Powell said. "And Mr. Cheney and many of his colleagues did not prepare for what happened after the fall of Baghdad."

Powell, who also served in the administrations of former Presidents George H.W. Bush and Ronald Reagan, said Cheney wrongly took credit in the book for forcing Powell to resign in 2004. Instead, Powell said, it was always his plan to leave after four years.

By the end of the first term, Bush's Cabinet "was not functioning as a team," Powell acknowledged.

"We had different views … not views that can be reconciled," Powell said. "And so I said to the president that I would be leaving at the end of the year after the election, and he ought to take a look at his whole team to try to resolve these issues because it was not a smoothly functioning team at that point."

Filed under: Colin Powell • Dick Cheney
soundoff (566 Responses)
  1. John

    Dick Cheney hoards more skeletons in his closet than anyone in politics. If you want to know someone who is calculating and cunning to a honed edge, allow me to introduce you to Dick Cheney. I worked as an exec for Halliburton near enough to Cheney's level prior to his election to office and I'm here to tell you that knowing he was vice president made me very uncomfortable for many reasons, the great majority of them valid by documentation.

    No one near enough to the Bush administration will ever know the real truth about what they did to bring war against Iraq, but sources I know and trust say that it was anything but the truth. It was the first time in my life that I became convinced that the White House actually used this nation's resources to capitalize on a personal interest. They lied and deceived the United States. So I'm not sure who all is guilty of "cheap shots" in that bunch, but you can believe the entire lot of them will be taking their secrets to the grave.

    August 29, 2011 07:04 am at 7:04 am |
  2. TomInRochNY

    I'd take Powell's word over Cheney's any day of the week. Powell is one of the few true Rs left in this country. I wish we had more like him in power now. We wouldn't be in this deep a mess if we did.

    August 29, 2011 07:08 am at 7:08 am |
  3. Texan

    Cheney is weak.

    August 29, 2011 07:13 am at 7:13 am |
  4. Rev. Rick

    Powell was one of the few people in the Bush administration I had any respect for – maybe not much, but some. Cheney, however, was nothing more than a thug. I see he hasn't changed any.

    August 29, 2011 07:14 am at 7:14 am |
  5. Phil T. Listener

    I think most rational people will realize the cause of the dysfunction was none other than Mr. Cheney.
    His ego blinds his capacity for objectivity, therefore he is always right.

    Personally, I think a more appropriate title for Mr. Cheney's manifesto would be "In My Crime".
    Perhaps he will write that one as a sequel when/if the long arm of international law gets him.

    August 29, 2011 07:15 am at 7:15 am |
  6. Ted

    Well Colin, Just be glad he's not your hunting partner.

    August 29, 2011 07:18 am at 7:18 am |
  7. volksmaniac

    I'm sure that powell never did or said anything wrong during his whole career . Therefore cheney must be lying just to sell his book . Powell is a coward and hasn't been a representative of his race since he was in his twenties . His line of bull should just be ignored as sour grapes . I might also add that cheney isn't any better .

    August 29, 2011 07:20 am at 7:20 am |
  8. DetroitFrank

    MacArthur said it best, old soldiers just fade away. Colin, just fade away.

    August 29, 2011 07:22 am at 7:22 am |
  9. Gonzo21

    Although not a fan of President GW Bush, at least he was honorable in his beliefs. Powell was the only person of integrity and common sense on the entire staff. Cheney is a crook and joke and should be brought back to court for crimes against the constitution.

    August 29, 2011 07:23 am at 7:23 am |
  10. I M Real

    Unfortunately this memoir has all the trappings of a man who in the final analysis of his life is grasping for a positive legacy at the cost of his class and dignity.

    August 29, 2011 07:27 am at 7:27 am |
  11. Mark L

    Cheney is such a lying boob. This is the man, who in the 2004 campaign, said that terrorists can't flourish in a democracy because they're too busy improving their lot in life. Really? Then explain Timothy McVeigh. Folks, you can repeat the pigheaded rhetoric of people like Cheney, Bachman, Glenn Beck, and so on, or you can be a real American and look for the truth. You won't find it in Cheney's book.

    August 29, 2011 07:35 am at 7:35 am |
  12. Josh

    Well, like many men who is "over the hill", Cheney has a very unique memory of what happened in the Bush Whitehouse. All of Cheney's memories, have Cheney being the good one, and everyone else playing a fool. Well, except for Bush himself, we all know that the real fool was Cheney himself.

    August 29, 2011 07:37 am at 7:37 am |
  13. e01938

    I feel General Powell missed a "courage moment" when he caved to the administration's demands and supported the notion of WMD in Iraq. He knew better or did not have sufficient info to support this. True courage failed him at this time.

    August 29, 2011 07:38 am at 7:38 am |
  14. Terry Gloege

    Mr Powell should heed the advice of the wise man who said "never argue with an idiot."

    August 29, 2011 07:41 am at 7:41 am |
  15. vfr800cr250

    Pretty sure anyone with any memory or an ounce of brain matter can figure out which one of those two is full of it. Cheney takes a big role in really messing up the nation and then tosses Powell under the bus yet AGAIN. It wasn't bad enough to use up Powell's credibility and then toss him aside, Cheney needs to back the bus up to try to finish the job. Guess ol' Dick doesn't just shoot people with guns......

    August 29, 2011 07:42 am at 7:42 am |
  16. Freshair

    Dick Cheney taking shots at Powell is something like Hannibal Lecter chriticizibg Bobby Flays culinary skills.

    August 29, 2011 07:42 am at 7:42 am |
  17. Freshair

    Sorry for the typo.

    August 29, 2011 07:44 am at 7:44 am |
  18. caeser

    Colin Powell was the only person in the Bush Administration with any integrity,it's too bad that his considerable talents served such a rotten President.
    Bush and Cheney used Powell to sell their war because he was credible.

    August 29, 2011 07:45 am at 7:45 am |
  19. JustSaying2U

    Isn't Chaney precious or what? Imagine, a draft-dodger and career chicken-hawk trying to disparage a general and war commander.

    August 29, 2011 07:47 am at 7:47 am |
  20. Dave

    Cheney is nothing more than an inept hack who refuses to take any personal responsibility for his decisions. In other words, he's a typical Republican.

    August 29, 2011 07:50 am at 7:50 am |
  21. opbilly

    colin powell has more credibility in his pinkie finger than cheney has in his whole body. cheney should be in jail for war crimes and theft with halliburton. please stop giving this miserable excuse for a man any airtime to sell his attempt to justify his actions

    August 29, 2011 07:54 am at 7:54 am |
  22. Johnson

    We all know Cheney's role is destroying Iraq and our own country with his violent ambitions and desire to enhance Halliburtons stock. Powell is a decent man who deserves better. Cheney is a hated man in this country and throughout the world.

    August 29, 2011 07:57 am at 7:57 am |
  23. Another NO SALE

    Do we really need the revisionist history lesson from someone that should be standing trial for treason?

    August 29, 2011 08:07 am at 8:07 am |
  24. Lloyd Roberts

    It was Cheneys' Presidency not George Bushes'. It is Cheneys' book "In My Time" and Colin Powell is and was a brilliant man acting as an American Statesman. One reason Iraq turned out as it did is that tribal countries cannot be changed into Democracies until they are ready to do so. Also George Bush under estimated the pride of Moslems and the Islamic Faith when he dreamed of bringing Christianity to the world like the conquerors of ages past. The Iraq war and Medicare prescription plans going forth without being in the budget (they were on the charge card) were much more than America could afford to add to the deficit. All in all, the Cheney/Bush Presidency was an economic and political amateur hour. Now President Obama and his team of professionals have to clean up the mess just like President Clinton had to clean up the deficit left to him. It is almost like the Republicans purposefully spend us into a hole on military expenditures and then blame the result on the next Democrat administration. Of course, this also serves to keep Democrats from spending money on homeland needs as they clean up the debts of the Republicans.. See the pattern?

    August 29, 2011 08:12 am at 8:12 am |
  25. Anothermuse

    Colin Powell should have been our country's first black president. I have to wonder if OBL would have given the go ahead for 9/11 had he been in place. the operative were already and training, but there are few people on the world stage more respected than Colin Powell..And he more than likely would have easily crushed Bush and Gore..

    August 29, 2011 08:15 am at 8:15 am |
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