Sunday, July 13, 2008

The Powell rehabilitation project?


Recently Colin Powell dropped hints that he might endorse Senator Obama for the presidency, something that generated a lot of press attention. Colin Powell has always enjoyed a stellar reputation, even if he accumulated a few blots during his service as Secretary of State under President Bush (2001 to 2005). One was related to his presentation at the United Nations where he laid out the case against Iraq and Saddam Hussein, with a performance that, arguably, single-handedly provided “cover” for those intent on invading Iraq and deposing Saddam Hussein. The second was his possible role related to discussions/decisions re torture within the administration.


Powell has worked diligently to recover from these missteps. Initially, the story was that he was not comfortable making the U.N. speech until after he had spent four days personally double-checking all of the allegations, and speaking to those in the know. Subsequently when it turned out to be almost 100% inaccurate he sorrowfully allowed that he was wrong, while simultaneously shifting responsibility to undefined others. Classic!


Then, following Powell’s exit from the government, his former aide Colonel Larry Wilkerson came out strongly against the poor treatment of U.S. detainees; laid full responsibility at the door of Vice President Cheney and his staff; and said that Powell had no first-hand knowledge of how abuse/torture had come about. While this occurred, Powell remained silent on the issue and made no public proclamations. Due to the close relationship between the two Wilkerson’s views were taken as reflecting the views of Powell. Wilkerson's denunciations were part of an effort to preserve Powell's legacy and indicate that he hadn't been part of the administration's efforts to institutionalize torture... and Wilkerson saved Powell's reputation in the eyes of many people… Powell got “credit” for being a “good soldier”, “team player”, etc. while Wilkerson laid down cover for him…

Recently, however, it has come out that the "enhanced interrogation techniques" were discussed in excruciating detail on multiple occasions at the Principals meeting with Colin Powell present. Powell has not really been called out on this. Once when Diane Sawyer asked re him this apparent contradiction Colin Powell said that he didn't have "sufficient memory recall" about the meetings; that he had participated in "… many meetings on how to deal with detainees…”; and, “… I'm not aware of anything that we discussed in any of those meetings that was not considered legal…” However, so far he has not had to explain why he let Wilkerson so publicly exonerate him as not being involved while he was actually very much in the loop.

Now, if he were to endorse Obama that would be very newsworthy and would wipe away the remaining doubts. Those opposed to the administration on the issues of Iraq and torture will not be in a position to insist on answers to tough questions, lest they diminish the value of the endorsement or even vitiate it entirely. Hmm, the Powell reputation reclamation project may get new life!

Colin Powell - Wikipedia
U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell Addresses the U.N. Security Council
Powell calls pre-Iraq U.N. speech a 'blot' on his record
The U.N. Deception: What Exactly Colin Powell Knew Five Years Ago
The Man Who Knew
The Tragedy of Colin Powell
Wilkerson: Torture in U.S. Facilities Probably Still Going On; Cheney Laid Groundwork
Powell aide: Torture 'guidance' from VP
No Torture, No Exceptions
Colonel of truth
Powell Breaks With Bush on Torture Issues
Bush Aware of Advisers' Interrogation Talks
Charles Kaiser on torture fatigue
Colin Powell, Keep Out
Sources: Top Bush Advisors Approved 'Enhanced Interrogation'

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