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. george

    Powell lied to the American people and the United Nations about WMD, because of his " credibility" the world believed him and we went to war with Iraq witch was another one of Bush's debacles, they took out Iran's arch enemy and OBL's( Saddam Hussein) and delivered Iraq back to Iran, brought Alqaida to Iraq and wasted precious young American lives and treasure, caused the death of a million innocent Iraqis and destabilized the Middle East. Powell is just as blood guilty as Cheney and criminal Bush make no mistake about it.

    August 29, 2011 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  2. Ron

    Dick Cheney MUST BE PROSECUTED for his crimes, the whole country agrees on this issue so why
    are we letting this go as a society?

    August 29, 2011 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  3. The Real Tom Paine

    @ Lee:

    If you are making money, why is it idiotic? Cheney made boatloads of money by manipulating polices to benefit him personally. More to the point, how does Cheney make sense? Please cite examples, and give more than the standard FOX talking points Hacker Murdoch sent out from his bunker this morning.

    August 29, 2011 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  4. Mike S. - Dayton, OH

    I wonder which of these men I would trust to be telling the truth here – the man who walked away from the opportunity to become president or the man who essentially appointed himself vice president; the man who put his reputation on the line to make the U.S. case for action in Iraq at the UN despite his personal misgivings or the man who hid continuously in undisclosed locations except to emerge to make political attacks; the man who most presciently warned of long-term repercussions of an Iraq invasion or the man who used scare tactics on a vulnerable public using knowingly-false information; the man who served his country in uniform for 35 years and received 2 purple hearts and a bronze star in Vietnam or the man who applied for five deferments and stayed safely in college for 6 years; the man who started a foundation to educate and prepare children for their future or the man who voted against Head
    Start and the Department of Education; the man who overcame racial barriers to rise to chairman of the joint chiefs or the man who voted against a non-binding resolution to demand the release of Nelson Mandela in South Africa; the man who has apologized for his testimony at the UN based on bogus information or the man who shot someone in the face and never once apologized, but did accept his victim's apology for the inconvenience. Pretty easy isn't it?

    August 29, 2011 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  5. blf83

    Powell is a statesman and hero. Cheney's legacy is lies, lies, and more lies which have cost our nation thousands of lives, trillions if dollars, loss of international respect. Cheney is the symbol of greed, Machiavellian machinations, and tyranny. He should be tried for war crimes.

    August 29, 2011 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  6. Tired of the nonsense

    Powell is probably the only person in the GOP with any common sense, decency or true feeling for America and Americans. I wish he'd run for president. He's the only member of the GOP I would even consider voting for.

    August 29, 2011 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  7. Average Joe

    Colin Powell was the only person with credibility in that whole administration, Cheney and Bush exploited that credibility to justify the war in Iraq. Gen Powell should have known better but he did what his oath was to do follow the orders of the president. Bush, Cheney, Rove, Ashcroft, just to name a few criminals. Powell more of an accesssory but I dont believe fully involved in the whole criminal affair. Just my opinion anyway

    August 29, 2011 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  8. Sniffit

    "At the time, Powell said he told the president, "If you break it, you own it," in reference to the invasion."

    Little did Powell realize that to Dubya and the Cheneybot such a statement actually functioned as encouragement to "break it."

    August 29, 2011 11:06 am at 11:06 am |

    Good!! I certainly hope you are paying taxes on all this money your are making. You sound like a person that would have self interest. Dick Cheney is a pain in the butt and he just won't go away. Not that it makes any difference, but I won't read his book. I had enough of him when he was part of the Bush administration and running our country. I hope you will reinvest some of your pressure money so you fellow man can benefit also..

    August 29, 2011 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  10. Democrat Class Warfare - Destroying the economy, destroying the country

    He should be tried for war crimes.
    Like Obama should be tried for bombing Libya without Congressional consentation or approval? Or do you decline to prosecute Democrat war criminals?

    August 29, 2011 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  11. Chettahe

    Cheney and all his neo-con friends and their enablers should face the courts in the US or La Hague for starting an unnecessary war in Iraq and for crimes against humanity and if found guilty should be send to jail for life.

    August 29, 2011 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  12. Olaf Big

    Powell let his reputation be exploited by a bunch of unscrupulous goons in George W. Bush administration, and that was his ultimate failure. Like Cyrus Vance 20+ years before him, he could resign in protest against a military action that he must have known all along was against U.S. interests. Instead he made a fool of himself going in front of U.N. general assembly and telling the whole world that Saddam had WMD, when it was obvious to everybody who was using his own brain that that was utter nonsense. "I am a soldier and I was following orders" is a poor defense for a U.S. Secretary of State.

    August 29, 2011 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  13. Jack

    Cheney is a dying man trying desperately to write his legacy. History will write it and it may not look so good for him.

    August 29, 2011 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  14. dplandry

    Do you get the idea Dick Cheney has a ton of unresolved childhood issues? He's a petulant child in every aspect of his life apparently.

    August 29, 2011 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  15. blake

    Mr. Powell, you should have remained in the military, where you had high credibility. You have lost it all since you entered the political world. Please stop identifying with the GOP, you have far more in common with the Democratic Socialist party.

    August 29, 2011 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  16. Kathy

    Powell told it like it was to the Bush Adm. I REMEMBER that oh and the inspectors told it like it was too, I REMEMBER that one too. NO WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION, yet that administration took us to war anyway and dug the hole we're currently in. so shut your pie hole Cheney, you are one of the most corrupt politicians EVER. I do not suffer from long term memory loss. I REMEMBER it all.

    August 29, 2011 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  17. Fair is Fair

    ConservaFASCISTS/TeaHadists/Tea Queda/TeaLiban

    If you watch the movie "W" it's obvious and plain to see that Dick and Gen. Powell didn't see eye to eye on most things.
    And if you watch "The Wizard of Oz", it's obvious that scarecrows can talk and dance and that monkeys can fly. IT'S CALLED A MOVIE. So here's a quarter – go buy a clue.

    August 29, 2011 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  18. Claxton

    Colin Powell is just as responsible for what's going on in Iraq as Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, et al. He was not a man in military uniform when he went before the UN to convince them of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. He was a civilian Cabinet officer. So, no, no free pass to him. And I wouldn't have wanted him to run this country to begin with.

    August 29, 2011 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  19. CEL1

    Tell it like it is, Mr Secretary. The Bush administration was as crooked as the Nixon Administration. And well they should have been, that;s where they learned their craft.

    August 29, 2011 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  20. Anthony... proud tax payer

    Collin Powell should have been the first black President. He paid his dues, did his service with honor, and carried Republican views very respectably. It saddens me that his legacy was tarnished due to his loyalty to the Bush Regime, and him (grudgingly) going along with the WMD story to prompt us to war. I still respect him as a great leader in our lifetime, and Cheney is nothing more then an opportunist snake who knew all the right strings to pull on all the right puppets. So when Mr Powell comes out and calls your blast "cheap shots"... I'm gonna have to side with him.

    August 29, 2011 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  21. IDEAS and IDEALS not ideologies

    This whole situation serves as a lesson to all hardworking, competent, honest, and intelligent Americans. A man of Powell's experience should have never accepted any position within the administration without the precondition that he would have significant influence on policy. It's akin to an A+ graduate working for a bunch C- former classmates.
    I wrote a comment on this very blog years ago that Powell should have never accepted a job from someone who's IQ was way below his and by joining this bunch the General risked losing the respect he enjoys from folks across the political spectrum.

    August 29, 2011 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  22. Adam K

    Always appreciated this man. I wish he would run for President!

    August 29, 2011 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  23. Rob

    I see Cheney is still lying to the American people. I think it's funny that former Presidents and Vice Presidents of the GOP party tend to slip back into the shadows of obscurity unless they have a book to endorse or some other financial endeavor, where a former Democratic president comes out and tries to raise awareness to some cause they're passionate about. That kind of track record should be what voters look at when they go to the polls, but the typical U.S. voter is an ignorant sheep.

    August 29, 2011 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  24. Michael

    Blame others for your own failures. Write a book about it.

    August 29, 2011 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  25. Allen Tunnell

    Dick Cheney is a lying, self-serving, Halliburton bag man who should be tried for treason and brought up on war crimes for lying to the American people and getting us involved in the Iraq War under trumped up charges. Just a bit of advice for you, Mr. Cheney, i hope you weren't going to use the money from your book sales for retirement. Anyone with a brain that thinks for themselves would never buy it as that book seems to be full of lies as well. No one really cares what you think anymore and your are a despicable human being. I'm continually amazed that some people still thing you are relevant.

    August 29, 2011 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23