Disqualified For Doping

by digby

I think it's just terrific that Colin Powell has come over from the dark side and all. And I'm sure he's very, very, very sincere even though he waited until the last possible moment, when it probably would have been much more meaningful if he'd come out last summer when nobody could talk about anything but national security. But hey, there's no need to dwell on Powell's endless capacity to play both sides at a time like this.

And neither would I think there was a need to dwell on Powell's past errors in judgment, except for this:

Colin Powell will have a role as a top presidential adviser in an Obama administration, the Democratic White House hopeful said Monday.

"He will have a role as one of my advisers," Barack Obama said on NBC's Today in an interview aired Monday, a day after Powell, a four-star general and President Bush's former secretary of state, endorsed him.

"Whether he wants to take a formal role, whether that's a good fit for him, is something we'd have to discuss," Obama said.

Maybe that's just campaign talk. It would hardly be decent for Obama to slap Powell in the face after Powell's effusive praise yesterday. But I would assume that Obama realizes that his opposition to the war was the single issue that separated him from the other candidates in the race and animated his most ardent and energetic supporters. To name one of the war's architects to a role in his administration would cost him credibility among people he needs to be his strong and enduring base as he attempts to do big things.

It's politically unnecessary. Powell has blown his cred with the neanderthals and brings nothing with him now:

Yesterday, Rush Limbaugh said that the only reason Gen. Colin Powell endorsed Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) was because they’re both African-American. “Secretary Powell says his endorsement is not about race. OK, fine. I am now researching his past endorsements to see if I can find all the inexperienced, very liberal, white candidates he has endorsed.” On his show today, Limbaugh went a step further and shouted his accusation against Powell:

Let me say it louder, and let me say it even more plainly. IT WAS TOTALLY ABOUT RACE! The Powell nomination — or endorsement — totally about race.

So much for the right wing's insistence that they judge solely on the content of one's character, eh?

Having Powell by his side for the rest of the campaign is good for Obama, especially among the villagers, who are starting to get very, very nervous about a Democratic win. But there's no need to actually follow through and welcome Powell into the administration in any role other than guest at state dinner.

As David Sirota says:

I don't fault Obama for trying to capitalize on those fabricated memes about Powell, and use them in the context of the campaign. He's got 15 days until the election, and any short-term boost is a good thing.

What I worry about is the day after the election. I am concerned about a President Obama internalizing that Establishment fantasy about Colin Powell the Serious and Credible Voice - and ignoring the actual fact-based story about Colin Powell, the Most Discredited Foreign Policy Voice In Contemporary American History. We don't need another president who refuses to live in the "reality-based world" - we need a president who matches his campaign promises on critical issues like the Iraq War with an understanding of which voices will be the most reliable in making those promises a reality.

This is the legacy of Colin Powell:

For 80 minutes in a hushed U.N. Security Council chamber in New York, the U.S. secretary of state unleashed an avalanche of allegations: The Iraqis were hiding chemical and biological weapons, were secretly working to make more banned arms, were reviving their nuclear bomb project. He spoke of "the gravity of the threat that Iraq's weapons of mass destruction pose to the world."

It was the most comprehensive presentation of the U.S. case for war. Powell marshaled what were described as intercepted Iraqi conversations, reconnaissance photos of Iraqi sites, accounts of defectors and other intelligence sources.

The defectors and other sources went unidentified. The audiotapes were uncorroborated, as were the photo interpretations. No other supporting documents were presented. Little was independently verifiable.

Still, in the United States, Powell's sober speech was galvanizing, swinging opinion toward war. "Compelling," "powerful," "irrefutable" were adjectives used by both pundits and opposition Democratic politicians. Editor & Publisher magazine found prowar sentiment among editorial writers doubled overnight, to three-quarters of large U.S. newspapers.

Powell's "thick intelligence file," as he called it, had won them over. Since 1998, he told fellow foreign ministers, "we have amassed much intelligence indicating that Iraq is continuing to make these weapons."

But in Baghdad, when the satellite broadcast ended, presidential science adviser Lt. Gen. Amer al-Saadi appeared before the audience and dismissed the U.S. case as "stunts" aimed at swaying the uninformed.

Some outside observers also sounded unimpressed. "War can be avoided. Colin Powell came up with absolutely nothing," said Denmark's Ulla Sandbaek, a visiting European Parliament member.

Six months after that Feb. 5 appearance, the file does look thin.

Nearly six years later, it's been completely obliterated.

For more than 20 years, by word and by deed Saddam Hussein has pursued his ambition to dominate Iraq and the broader Middle East using the only means he knows, intimidation, coercion and annihilation of all those who might stand in his way. For Saddam Hussein, possession of the world's most deadly weapons is the ultimate trump card, the one he most hold to fulfill his ambition.

We know that Saddam Hussein is determined to keep his weapons of mass destruction; he's determined to make more. Given Saddam Hussein's history of aggression, given what we know of his grandiose plans, given what we know of his terrorist associations and given his determination to exact revenge on those who oppose him, should we take the risk that he will not some day use these weapons at a time and the place and in the manner of his choosing at a time when the world is in a much weaker position to respond?

The United States will not and cannot run that risk to the American people. Leaving Saddam Hussein in possession of weapons of mass destruction for a few more months or years is not an option, not in a post-September 11th world.

And then there was this, regarding his participation in meetings at the White House where torture techniques were acted out by CIA employees for the approval of the "principles committee:":

Powell said that he didn't have "sufficient memory recall" about the meetings and that he had participated in "many meetings on how to deal with detainees." Powell said, "I'm not aware of anything that we discussed in any of those meetings that was not considered legal."

I would imagine that the village believes such things should not disqualify him from ever being close to power again. But they do. No president should ever take advice from this man again.