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. Lifelong Democrat

    General Powell is always a class act. Cheney is trying to rewrite history here, and I hope nobody buys it.

    August 28, 2011 06:24 pm at 6:24 pm |
  2. looker118

    Powell has always been a class act. Cheney is that stuff you step in and scrape off the soles of your shoes.

    August 28, 2011 06:24 pm at 6:24 pm |
  3. Indy

    I don't think Powell has much to worry about, with Cheney being the most evil person to ever be a VP, besides Cheney was actually the boss and Bush was there to do everything Cheney told him to do. Who would buy a book from the worst administration in US history ? Cheney made millions off death and destruction and every US citizen should boycott this so called book. 99% of people will take Powells word over Cheney's anyday.

    August 28, 2011 06:24 pm at 6:24 pm |
  4. Dale

    I wish General Powell would run for President. I really do.

    August 28, 2011 06:25 pm at 6:25 pm |
  5. J-NW

    Cheney deserves nothing short of life in cell block D. He is the closest to Hitler since.. HItler (i.e. killing, torture, world domination). He is responsible for reckless use of his power, causing the needless deaths of 100,000+ innocents. That, torture, rendition prisons, etc is why he cannot leave the country – Germany and other nations have accused him of war crimes – of which he is absolutely guilty. He saw America's chance to be the loan superpower and in his grandiouse delusion, proceeded to squander America's surplus and reputation by starting an illegal war – FOR OIL.
    Good riddance, Dick.

    August 28, 2011 06:26 pm at 6:26 pm |
  6. ZweiStein

    I wasn't there. I wasn't privy to any of the conversations. But I would bet it all that General Powell's version of events reflect reality a hell of a lot more than Cheney's (Mr. Halliburton.)

    August 28, 2011 06:26 pm at 6:26 pm |
  7. mike

    Of all of the people that were in the Bush administration Colin Powell was the only senior staff member who was, is and always will be of the highest personal and moral values. Cheney never was and never will be. Cheney will keep trying to "clean up" his image but it is a futile attempt at revision of history. His lack of honesty, integrity and total disregard for human dignity will always be his historical marker.

    August 28, 2011 06:28 pm at 6:28 pm |
  8. lynn

    Cheney needs to adjust his oxygen tank, he's breathing in stale air. Cheney owns the Iraq war, including the cost of lives and dollars. Fox News was screaming WMD's and had their disciples believing that garbage, all because Fox sucked up to Cheney. If anybody is convicted of treason, it's Cheney, not our Secretary of the Treasury.

    August 28, 2011 06:29 pm at 6:29 pm |
  9. mdn

    They are all a bunch of liars. They worked hard to bring this country down. Bush was clueless and Cheney was the evil puppet master. I hope Cheney is FORCED to live on life support for as long as possible, so that he can see fully what the impact of his actions were.

    August 28, 2011 06:31 pm at 6:31 pm |
  10. JN

    If any former elected official should just disappear in the past, it should be Dick Cheney. He refuses to acknowledge what history and our present economical, international and domestic perils remind of us every day: the Bush/Cheney years were not good for this country and the world.

    August 28, 2011 06:32 pm at 6:32 pm |
  11. Anthony from Maryland

    Powell to me would have made a better Vice President than Dick Cheney. I would have bet that with Powell being VP we would not be in Iraq and not much in debt right now as Powell seems to be more prudent in his decisions than vindictive than Cheney. Cheney is just an old man who knows that history will not treat him kindly. Don't worry, besides those in Idaho there will be no memorials when he leaves this planet.

    August 28, 2011 06:33 pm at 6:33 pm |
  12. Michelle

    Out of all of Bush's cabinet, I feel that Colin Powell was the only person that had any integrity or American values.
    Bush, Cheney, and Rice all betrayed America with the bogus "weapons of mass destruction" argument for war.
    Mr. Powell is also showing great restraint for not putting Cheney on blast for his sensationalistic journalism.
    Thank you Mr. Powell for your service to our great nation.

    August 28, 2011 06:35 pm at 6:35 pm |
  13. ingrid

    Powell is a patriot and although I might have some issues with his role in Iraq, I do not find his role as disturbing as Cheney. Cheney is a smug, self-serving Iago.

    August 28, 2011 06:36 pm at 6:36 pm |
  14. Dennis F

    I wish that Colin Powell was willing to seek the Republican nomination for President in 2012. He could easily capture the center in 2012. Unfortunately, the current crop of Republican candidates seem to all hate the center.

    August 28, 2011 06:36 pm at 6:36 pm |
  15. SecedingfromTexas

    General Powell is absolutely right, and I'm glad he "took on" this bag of hot air. He deserves to be challenged and
    Powell is one man with credibility, experience, expertise, and who owns the respect of most Americans for his
    service to the United States.
    Cheney and Rice books are reminders of the beginning of the economic downfall we are now in, and the price we have
    had to pay in American lives lost and financial costs. Wonder if this hot- air balloon discusses Blackwater, Halliburton's
    no bid contracts, or reveals who attended his secret meetings at the White House with oil barons to decide our
    energy policy. I will never know, because the money they would cost me would better be donated to any number of
    Veteran's organizations. What are they doing with their proceeds?
    On a scale of 1-10: Powell – 1; Cheney – 0.

    August 28, 2011 06:36 pm at 6:36 pm |
  16. Brad

    And the previous administration is still in-fighting?

    August 28, 2011 06:37 pm at 6:37 pm |
  17. PastorC

    Now the truth comes out! They all really didn't know what they were doing. Now we're in a big mess becuase of it!

    August 28, 2011 06:37 pm at 6:37 pm |
  18. An Independent

    I've always had a lot of respect for Gen. Powell. I believe that he is generally an honest, trustworthy person who did his best to do what was right for the country as a whole and was probably the best person in the Bush 43 administration. I was disappointed when he left but not surprised that he would not want to work with that group. Dick Cheney? Well, let's just say that that my opinion of him is the exact opposite of everything I said about Colin Powell.

    August 28, 2011 06:39 pm at 6:39 pm |

    Cheney is the visible, walking personification of pure evil.

    August 28, 2011 06:39 pm at 6:39 pm |
  20. maf

    . . . and yet another Republican re-writes history so that it matches their own version of how they wanted events to transpire! Facts are but potholes on the smooth road to prosperity. HA!

    August 28, 2011 06:39 pm at 6:39 pm |
  21. comment

    Powell was and is a class act - smart, balanced, strong. Cheney was and is a thug - Mr. Torture - the worst that America has to offer. Cheney should be on trial for war crimes.

    August 28, 2011 06:41 pm at 6:41 pm |
  22. shannon g

    Now you know can't trust the devil, so get in line....

    August 28, 2011 06:42 pm at 6:42 pm |
  23. Tommy Mack

    No matter what, the Iraq war was the worst thing America has done in the last 40 years. Even if your are brainwashed and think it was the "right thing to do", every single military expert in the world agrees we botched it horribly. It was, after all, Cheney who said we'd be greeted as liberators with flowers. Had we not invaded Iraq, America would still have moral standing in the world and over A TRILLION DOLLARS less in debt. Oh yeah, and about the over 4500 dead troops, half a million dead Iraqi's, and the enrichment of Cheney's HALLIBURTON, I can't wait for some neocon to defend this.

    August 28, 2011 06:44 pm at 6:44 pm |
  24. polite centrist

    Colin Powell for President!

    August 28, 2011 06:45 pm at 6:45 pm |
  25. JomoDaMusicMan

    Mr. Powell, didn't your mother ever tell you, when u lay with dogs you will catch fleas. Bush & chaney were dogs, now you are still full of fleas. All of u are responsible for whats happening in Irag, yesterday and today. All of you knew there was no Weapons of Mass Destruction. All of you knew that Iraq, had absolutely nothing to do with 911. All of u knew the invasions was all about taking out Sadamn Husein and the oil fields. All of u knew the Talaban had no connections whatsoever with Al Queda. Didn't each of u forget that Lincoln said "It may be true that u can fool all the people sometimes and u can fool some people all the time BUT U CAN NEVER FOOL ALL THE PEOPLE ALL THE TIME" U PEOPLE DIDN'T FOOL ME AT ALL, THEN AND EVEN NOW, I'M SKEPTICAL OF ALL OF U

    August 28, 2011 06:45 pm at 6:45 pm |
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