Colin Powell is still trying to cover up his crimes
Are they really going to let Colin Powell get away with this? Jonathan at A Tiny Revolution lays out the particulars:
In his new book, It Worked For Me: In Life and Leadership, Colin Powell writes this about his 2003 presentation at the United Nations about Iraq's supposed WMD: "I get mad when bl*ggers accuse me of lying – of knowing the information was false. I didn’t."
Well, I'm a blugger, and I accuse Colin Powell of lying. The evidence is overwhelming that he knew much of what he said in front of the Security Council was false.
This may not seem plausible to people who know Powell only via the media image he's carefully constructed over decades – that of being Washington's last honorable man. As journalist Margaret Carlson said in 2003, "Whatever Colin does, I’ll go with."
But in fact Powell's image has about as much to do with reality as what he told the UN. Though his entire career Powell has eagerly bent the truth to please his superiors. He started his climb up the Army ladder by covering up the massacre of civilians by U.S. troops in Vietnam, even serving as a character witness for a general who apparently shot Vietnamese from helicopters for fun. During the 1980s, when Powell was assistant to then-Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger, he also helped cover up the Iran-contra scandal, and almost certainly deceived congressional investigators. (If there were a Museum of Washington's Funniest Lies, it would have its own wing for Powell's statement that, "To my recollection, I don't have a recollection.")
So everyone's default assumption should have been that Powell would lie to Americans and the world at the UN. And – as anyone can see just by looking at what's in the public record – he did. Below is a look line by line through Powell's presentation to demonstrate the chasm between what he knew and what he said.
It's very thorough. But scruffy bloggers aside, you'd think he'd at least be worried that the Villagers would believe Bob Woodward:
This appears in Bob Woodward's book Plan of Attack:
[Powell] had decided to add his personal interpretation of the intercepts to the rehearsed script, taking them substantially further and casting them in the most negative light...Concerning the intercept about inspecting for the possibility of "forbidden ammo," Powell took the interpretation further: "Clean out all of the areas... Make sure there is nothing there." None of this was in the intercept.
Here's the conversation as Powell presented it at the UN. As Woodward reported, the underlined sentences were simply added by Powell:
POWELL: "They're inspecting the ammunition you have, yes.''
"For the possibility there are forbidden ammo."
"For the possibility there is by chance forbidden ammo?''
"And we sent you a message yesterday to clean out all of the areas, the scrap areas, the abandoned areas. Make sure there is nothing there.''
Powell then explained:
This is all part of a system of hiding things and moving things out of the way and making sure they have left nothing behind.
According to the official State Department translation (and confirmed for me by Iraqi Imad Khadduri), the Iraqi soldier merely said:
"And we sent you a message to inspect the scrap areas and the abandoned areas."
And it's no surprise the Iraqi said this. Here's what the Duelfer report found about what was going on within the Iraqi government just before the January 30th intercepted conversation:
The NMD director met with Republican Guard military leaders on 25 January 2003 and advised them they were to sign documents saying that there was no WMD in their units, according to a former Iraqi senior officer. Husam Amin told them that the government would hold them responsible if UNMOVIC found any WMD in their units or areas, or if there was anything that cast doubt on Iraq’s cooperation with UNMOVIC. Commanders established committees to ensure their units retained no evidence of old WMD.
Again: Powell took evidence of the Iraqis doing what they were supposed to do—i.e., searching their gigantic ammunition dumps to make sure they weren't accidentally holding onto banned chemical weapons—and doctored it to make it look as if Iraq were hiding banned weapons.
He lied. There's no doubt about it. And he's going to spend the rest of his life trying to airbrush history. But it isn't going to work. This wasn't about a personal indiscretion or even a corrupt business deal. He knowingly lied that the country was in danger of being attacked by a foreign nation in order to justify an illegal invasion. That's a serious as it gets and Colin Powell's reputation won't recover. The internet never forgets.