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. Mike

    I'd trust Powell long before I'd trust Cheney. I'd be suspicious of Cheney if he told me it was sunny outside.

    August 28, 2011 09:04 pm at 9:04 pm |
  2. KellyinBoston

    Really too bad. This guy should have been president, not the idiot for whom he worked.

    August 28, 2011 09:04 pm at 9:04 pm |
  3. AlBr

    GEN Powell was a poor example of a military officer when he was on acitve duty–considering himself to be somehow better than his subordinates. He was a poor example of a politician, and now he is again a poor example of a professional soldier who is making a profit by sniping and blaming tohers for his shortcomings.
    Shut up, General. You are not relevant.

    August 28, 2011 09:04 pm at 9:04 pm |
  4. kyle

    I bet he won't admit that their were no WMD's in Iraq.

    August 28, 2011 09:06 pm at 9:06 pm |
  5. Dave

    "heads will be exploding all over Washington"

    What Dick, are you going hunting again?

    August 28, 2011 09:12 pm at 9:12 pm |
  6. Not fooled

    I would take Powell's word over Cheney's anyday.

    August 28, 2011 09:12 pm at 9:12 pm |
  7. Christopher

    Hmm. One one hand we have Powell. One of the most respected and fair-minded people in the country. On the other hand we have Cheny. One of the ugliest, nastiest, pettiest, vindictive, hate-spewing and down-right detestible human being to have ever plagued the Earth. I will believe Powell on this one.

    August 28, 2011 09:13 pm at 9:13 pm |
  8. geotigg

    Of ALL the people who served res. GWB, Colin Powell was the only one (IMO) who put character and country first. I have yet to read a story that makes me think anyone else in that administration was concerned about anything beyond politics &/or profit.

    August 28, 2011 09:13 pm at 9:13 pm |
  9. bp

    Take your pick on the spin:

    1. Despite being a military man, Powell has trouble dealing with ambiguity and won't commit himself until a choice is clear, which rarely happens in the real world. This is why he was never comfortable in the Bush Administration, where the need to act quickly and decisively was paramount and vital to national interests post-9/11.

    2. Because he was a military man, Powell is all too familiar with the risks involved in oversimplification and the rush to judgment. This is why he was never comfortable in the Bush Administration, where shooting from the hip was SOP and avowed certainty equated with moral strength and patriotism.

    When it comes to engaging our nation in war, I give more weight to the judgment of a 30-year+ military veteran over that of someone who got 5 draft deferments because he "had other priorities" (Cheney's explanation in his own words).

    August 28, 2011 09:14 pm at 9:14 pm |
  10. TEW

    I am an independent and must confess that Mr. Powell is the epidomhy of what I would regard as a "perfect example" of what I would expect a member of the Republican party to be. I did not agree with the Iraq invasion but he supported his commander and chief with the highest respect like a true solder. Its always those crack pots like Cheney, Bachmann, West, Perry and the like that cast disrespect to the GOP brand.

    Powell should have been a presidential nominee but we know that the GOP would never stand for a minority to represent their party. They would rather keep the stigma of "porch monkey" going like Mike Steel, Alan West and the new comer Mr. Cain who provide nothing more that entertainment and political satire for a party that has fast become prejudice and exclusive. Thanks Tea Party

    August 28, 2011 09:17 pm at 9:17 pm |
  11. GTA

    With his book, Dick Cheney is simply digging a deeper hole for his dubious legacy. As more 'heads explode', Cheney's perspective will no doubt be refuted by others who did not have careers that were built on smug opportunism.
    Let's hope that Cheney and Wolfowitz look forward to spending eternity in a very warm place.....

    August 28, 2011 09:17 pm at 9:17 pm |
  12. steam roller

    Colin Powell is an honorable man who served his selflessly with the best intentions. Dick Cheney takes the position of my way or the highway. " G W canvassed his Cabinet leaders to see who supported Cheny's desire to bomb Syria", Not one person raised their hand.

    August 28, 2011 09:18 pm at 9:18 pm |
  13. me

    is siding with Powell. Why would Cheney write a tell all??? Is a reality show in the works?

    August 28, 2011 09:22 pm at 9:22 pm |
  14. pn

    It is sad, but I miss Cheney and his mostly rational conservatism.

    August 28, 2011 09:23 pm at 9:23 pm |
  15. William Marlowe

    Cheney is a liar, responsible for getting us into Iraq, and the only Vice President to commit Treason while in office by exposing an active covert member of the CIA to the public. He should be in jail and this world will be a better place once he has departed it.

    August 28, 2011 09:23 pm at 9:23 pm |
  16. Larry of DC

    Powell is a racist and a biggot. Although Colin is a staunch Republican, he voted for Obama soley because he was black – a purely race vote Not my opinion – this is what Powell admitted.

    August 28, 2011 09:24 pm at 9:24 pm |
  17. ARTRaveler

    I trust Colin Powell's recollection far more than Cheney on any subject.

    August 28, 2011 09:25 pm at 9:25 pm |
  18. blue

    I would take Gen. Powell's word over Cheney's any day of the week.

    August 28, 2011 09:28 pm at 9:28 pm |
  19. antieverything

    Powell "blasting" Cheney, Cheney making people's head explode..... I'm so glad these guys aren't in charge anymore.

    August 28, 2011 09:29 pm at 9:29 pm |
  20. Mike

    Cheny is an ecuse for a human being! He played a major role in convincing GW to wage a bogus war which in return led to the worst recession since the great depression. It'll take years if not a decade to clean up all the mess the Bush adminisration left this country in.

    August 28, 2011 09:31 pm at 9:31 pm |
  21. Redleg56

    Let's see. One has combat decorations from Vietnam. The other is a confirmed coward and bedwetter.

    August 28, 2011 09:33 pm at 9:33 pm |
  22. mark

    Dick Cheney is as evil a man as has EVER functioned in the US government. He should be serving time as we speak for international war crimes. Colin Powell on the other hand is a national hero.

    August 28, 2011 09:37 pm at 9:37 pm |
  23. BeverlyNC

    Everyone knows Cheney is an arrogant, evil, criminal who deserves to be in prison. He was the puppet master of the moron Bush. He is the reason we ended up in Iraq based on total lies, why international war crimes on torture and should be handed over to the Hague for prosecution, and his buddy Karl Rove was the one who committed treason and outted CIA Agent Valerie Pflame because her husband, Joe Wilson, a former African ambassador went to Niger and came home and told Cheney and Bush there was NO uranium going from there to Iraq and refused to lie about it to Congress, so Rove outted his wife – putting her life in danger and causing the murder of her CIA contacts in Arab countries. Cheney is pure evil and he should be in prison for the rest of his miserable life.
    Colin Powell was against Iraq and was finally ordered by Bush to go to the UN and lie to the world about there being WMD in Iraq. I saw Powell testify that day and I knew watching his face, everything he was saying was an outright LIE. Powell is an honorable man with great character and you tell by looking at his face, he was following orders but it was painful for him to sit there and LIE for BUSH and CHENEY.
    Cheney will go down in American history as a draft-dodging coward who never fought a single war but sent thousands of our solidiers to their deaths for a giant LIE and for GREED because he thought he was going to get to steal Iraq's oil for his Haliburton company. Cheney is corrupt and as much of a traitor to America and our values as Benedict Arnold.

    August 28, 2011 09:40 pm at 9:40 pm |
  24. 21k

    powell was in vietnam fighting, while cheney was pursuing his 4 college deferments. 'nuff said.

    August 28, 2011 09:41 pm at 9:41 pm |
  25. Socrates

    Well.. it doesn't surprise me that someone as Cheney is taking cheap shots at others. Cheney is a CRIMINAL and he is no different than Kadaffi or Marcos or Papa Duvalier or Pinochet. Cheney is worst than a parasite.. at least parasites have a function in this life..
    People like Cheney makes me remember Hitler... Anyone that believes that Cheney is a man with integrity is a neophit about what evil is.

    August 28, 2011 09:41 pm at 9:41 pm |
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