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. Philojazz

    Mr Powell, I sincerely believe this country would now be in a lot better shape if you had been the GOP candidate in 2000, instead of Mr Bush, and been elected President. You're an honorable man, and I wish you the best.

    August 28, 2011 07:17 pm at 7:17 pm |
  2. usualone

    I always felt Secretary Powell was one of the few with integrity during the Bush Administrations. He was set up to speak before the UN. If anyone reads the mad Cheney's book and believes its contents, there is no hope for that person or else he/she got rich off of the wars. Thank you Secretary Powell for your service to our country both in the military and beyond. I think most people will be with you in this regard.

    August 28, 2011 07:21 pm at 7:21 pm |
  3. StevenB

    You were expecting honesty or class from Dick Cheney? Why would he adopt either now?

    August 28, 2011 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
  4. Lizzy10

    Hmm, believe Cheney or Powell? Wow, that's a tough one! Mr. Cheney, sorry, but you don't have a speck of credibility, especially next to Mr. Powell. Crawl back into that bunker sir, your done.

    August 28, 2011 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |
  5. Angela

    I think Cheney is only trying to sell his book. I sure won't buy it or even want to peek in it.

    August 28, 2011 07:24 pm at 7:24 pm |
  6. The Elephant in The Room

    Powell should have been President rather than George Bush. America would have been much better off if he had.

    Thinking back to 2000, Americans cann thank Ralph Nader for siphoning off enough votes from Vice President Al Gore to allow Bush to win.

    Just think : no unfunded tax cuts, no far rightwing Supreme Court appointments [no Citizens United ruling], no ignoring of 9-11 intelligence, no UNFUNDED wars even if 9-11 occured and we reacted the same, no Katrina debacle, no huge deficits / debt, unlike crash of the economy.

    We can thank Ralph Nader for a lot.

    August 28, 2011 07:26 pm at 7:26 pm |

    Cheney is an EVIL EVIL arrogant person. Shut up Dick, you had your chance and screwed it up royally. You thought you were above the law. Your butt should be in jail. Go to your undisclosed location and don't come back.!!!!!

    August 28, 2011 07:27 pm at 7:27 pm |
  8. Bill in Florida

    If it comes down to believing Colin Powell vs Dick Cheney, I bet 99% of us will believe Powell.

    August 28, 2011 07:28 pm at 7:28 pm |
  9. dnick47

    Stay cool General Powell. Everyone knows that you are a man of honor. Also, everyone knows the Cheney doesn't even know what honor means – even remotely.

    August 28, 2011 07:33 pm at 7:33 pm |
  10. LaPlut

    Only in America can someone commit treason against their country and be able to right a book about it and make millions.

    August 28, 2011 07:34 pm at 7:34 pm |
  11. Dynan3

    Cheney...the Dark calling the kettle Darker. He was the impetus that drove America from it's noble stance.

    August 28, 2011 07:34 pm at 7:34 pm |
  12. CBR

    Mr Cheney has proved himself to be a person who loves to embellish his role in the Bush White House. If we are to believe him, he was the only person who performed his job well. I wonder why anyone would be surprised by anything Mr. Cheney has done or would do to make sure that his actions would outshine those of any other member of the administration.

    I never did understand why President Bush kept him on as vice president.

    August 28, 2011 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
  13. Bob Bichen

    I most assuredly wish Mr. Powell would reconsider, and jump into the presidential race. He is smart, articulate, balanced and extremely well respected. He could bring compromise across the parties, something we desperately need in this time of lingering crisis. The remainder of the candidates are devisive and unpredictable. What they say and what they do often does not line up. But Colin Powell would call it straight, popular or no. That kind of courage is utterly lacking right now, but exactly what is required.

    August 28, 2011 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
  14. pajaro1

    How else can Cheney and Bush live with themselves unless they lie and deceive to construct own ficitious events of what happened "in their minds". I was hoping Colin Powell would speak up on Cheney's fabrications...

    August 28, 2011 07:36 pm at 7:36 pm |
  15. jk

    The devil is in the details and in this case the devil is Cheney, Rumsfeld, Bush, Bush, Clinton, Obama... all the same. It'd be cool to watch each one of these little maggots, because that is what they are, get thrown into the Lake of Fire, which is the lower part of the 4th dimension when the Clear Light cancels out the darkness, which it does at the and of an epoch. For supposed secret society guys it is amazing they do not know this.

    August 28, 2011 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  16. normajean

    i don't know anybody that has any respect for Cheney nor anyone who trusts him nor believes anything he says.!!!! This man has never been above suspicion for being behind the USA entering Iraq due to lies and distortion of information!!!! He "master minded' the whole mess!!!

    August 28, 2011 07:38 pm at 7:38 pm |
  17. Old disgusting worm of a man

    C oward
    H uckster
    E gomaniac
    N onothing
    E vil
    Y esterday's news thank God

    August 28, 2011 07:38 pm at 7:38 pm |
  18. dd

    Col. powell is the only one in the bush admin that i thought had any honesty and integrity! i hope no one buys cheneys book...

    August 28, 2011 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  19. scott

    yes!!!! somebody is standing up to cheyney....president obama should wave former vp cheyneys excutive privelage and the justice department and tresury department should go over his life with a fine tooth comb.

    August 28, 2011 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
  20. Pat in IL

    Since Powell is head and shoulders above Cheney in intelligence and moral compass, I definitely believe him. Cheney is a bully and idiot.....always has been and always will be.

    August 28, 2011 07:49 pm at 7:49 pm |
  21. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    Cheney and those of his elk didn't understand the full ramifacations of taking Hussein out. If they had realized it would lead to the rise of Iran, then they might have focused on Afghanistan where the actual need for anti-Al Qeada action was. The problem is that so much was put into Iraq that the fight in Afghanistan was extended much longer than really needed. Powell is correct that there was much more to winning the war; think about WWII. There was the Marshall Plan which helped the European allies to rebuild. Bush, Cheney & company never figured that it would be a problem to win the full war and not just combat. They never fully thought through their ideology.

    August 28, 2011 07:49 pm at 7:49 pm |
  22. 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 preciently warned of long-term reprucussions of an Iraq invasion or the man who used scare tactics on a vulnerable public using knowlingly 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; 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; 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. Pretty easy isn't it?

    August 28, 2011 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  23. Dave

    I personally think that General Powell would make a Great President and bring this nation back together again. We need strong leadership that is not directed by the political winds of the former or Speaker of the House, the Minority leaders, or the Senate. These career polititions have put us all between a rock and a hard place, made a laughing stock out of the USA by the rest of the world, cannot get their own houses in order, and have shown their utter contempt for the American Public by passing laws they have not even read but were political. I sure hope the American Public has had enough and sends a message on November 22, 2012 with a clean sweep of all up for election.

    August 28, 2011 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  24. Livin' the good life

    Cheney is trying to change history and make himself look better. He is irrelevent. He is only trying to make himself look better becuse he knows that he was the instingater in starting many wars. He is insidious and wants to create many wars amongst all people. He needs to reconcile his relationship with his daughter before slashing out towards others.

    August 28, 2011 07:53 pm at 7:53 pm |
  25. jokerster

    Cheney doing this just to sell books???? I'm not buying it....I would believe Powell over Cheney anyday.....

    August 28, 2011 07:53 pm at 7:53 pm |
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