JOE LAURIA: Powell & Iraq—How One Resignation May Have Stopped the Disastrous Invasion

An article in the NYT Magazine tells us how the CIA helped cook the evidence to invade Iraq and why Colin Powell should have resigned rather than go along with it.

By Joe Lauria
Special to Consortium News
July 18, 2020

On the morning of Feb. 5, 2003 I was in my office, an old radio booth overlooking the Trusteeship Council at UN Headquarters in New York, when I decided to walk over one chamber towards the Security Council. I entered a corridor on the left, high above the council, and went into an empty interpreter’s booth. I looked down on the scene below.

The space was packed, the first time I’d seen the public gallery full in the 13 years to that point that I had covered the UN. The palpable tension in the air was what one might expect before a bullfight.

I could see the then U.S. secretary of state, Colin Powell, in the crowd near his seat at the council’s horseshoe table, conversing with other diplomats. I then went back to my office to watch the UN feed as the proceedings commenced.

The secretary of state put on a performance punctuated by a photograph that went around the world and which I immediately dubbed Powell’s “vile display.” It showed him at the Security Council table holding up what he said was a model vial of anthrax, a deadly biological weapon that Powell claimed Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein had an ample supply of.

Powell’s “vile display” at Security Council with CIA Director George Tenet behind him. (US Government)

“My …  purpose today is to provide you with additional information, to share with you what the United States knows about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction, as well as Iraq’s involvement in terrorism, which is also the subject of Resolution 1441 and other earlier resolutions,” Powell began. Resolution 1441, passed by the Security Council three months earlier, had given Iraq one last chance to come clean with the UN’s WMD weapons inspectors or face “serious consequences.”

“My colleagues, every statement I make today is backed up by sources, solid sources,” Powell told the council. “These are not assertions. What we are giving you are facts and conclusions based on solid intelligence.”

The ‘Facts’

Among the “facts” and “solid intelligence” Powell claimed were Iraq’s procurement of the now infamous aluminum tubes he said were to be used in centrifuges as part of Saddam’s effort to restart a nuclear weapons program.

“These illicit procurement efforts show that Saddam Hussein is very much focused on putting in place the key missing piece from his nuclear weapons program, the ability to produce fissile material,” Powell said.

Another key “fact” was that Iraq had  “mobile biological research laboratories,” according to an “Iraqi major who defected.” 

Major U.S. media were fully convinced. “Irrefutable,” read the headline of a Washington Post editorial, which said:

“AFTER SECRETARY OF STATE Colin L. Powell’s presentation to the United Nations Security Council yesterday, it is hard to imagine how anyone could doubt that Iraq possesses weapons of mass destruction. Mr. Powell left no room to argue seriously that Iraq has accepted the Security Council’s offer of a “final opportunity” to disarm. … Mr. Powell’s evidence, including satellite photographs, audio recordings and reports from detainees and other informants, was overwhelming. Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr., the senior Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee, called it ‘powerful and irrefutable.'”

The New York Times editorial said:

“Secretary of State Colin Powell presented the United Nations and a global television audience yesterday with the most powerful case to date that Saddam Hussein stands in defiance of Security Council resolutions and has no intention of revealing or surrendering whatever unconventional weapons he may have.”  

The Times cautioned: “Because the consequences of war are so terrible, and the cost of rebuilding Iraq so great, the United States cannot afford to confront Iraq without broad international support.”

Despite Powell’s presentation and the U.S. media’s embrace of it, every other nation on the Security Council, with the exception of Britain and Spain, was highly skeptical of the U.S. argument for war, including allies Germany and France. 

Rumors were already swirling at UN headquarters that Powell had not been entirely on board with this speech and had spent the previous night at CIA headquarters in Virginia demanding better evidence to justify a U.S. invasion of a sovereign nation.

Blix and ElBaradei Respond

ElBaradei (l.) and Blix at Security Council. Feb. 14, 2003 (UN Photo/Sophia Paris)

Nine days later, Powell was back at the Security Council on Feb. 14 for a report by Hans Blix, chairman of UNMOVIC, the UN’s weapons inspectors, and Mohamed ElBaradei, director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, in charge of discovering whether Iraq had a nuclear weapons program. 

Again the chamber was packed, including the public gallery. Blix told the council that the inspections had been proceeding without hindrance from Iraq. He said:

“Since we arrived in Iraq, we have conducted more than 400 inspections covering more than 300 sites. All inspections were performed without notice, and access was almost always provided promptly. In no case have we seen convincing evidence that the Iraqi side knew in advance that the inspectors were coming.”

It was not what Powell wanted to hear.

“Inspections are producing results. … The option of inspections has not been taken to the end,” French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin said. “The use of force would be so fraught with risk for people, for the region and for international stability that it should only be envisioned as a last resort.” 

De Villepin continued:

“No one today can claim the path of war will be shorter than the path of inspections. No one can claim that it would lead to a safer, more just, more stable world. For war is always the sanction of failure. Would this be our sole recourse in the face of the many challenges at this time? So let us give the United Nations inspectors the time they need for their mission to succeed.”

With Powell sitting across from de Villepin, the packed public gallery suddenly erupted into a roar of approval of the French foreign minister, the spectators rising to their feet.  It was a moment that defined the United Nations as a collection of international will to oppose even the mighty United States when it was dead set on a murderous, hegemonic course, without cause other than furthering its own power. 

According to The Guardian, Powell was incensed:

“Colin Powell, US Secretary of State and former chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, swept out of the Security Council chamber and stalked down the escalators to the basement briefing room. He had just heard Blix practically destroy any hope of the second resolution being passed by the Security Council. He was furious.

Powell ordered officials to gather together the ‘E10’, the 10 elected members of the Security Council. He wanted to make his position clear. He, along with Blair, had been the man who had persuaded Bush that a route through the UN and the building of an international coalition was the way to disarm Saddam. The President, after initial reluctance, had finally agreed. Powell had used up a lot of political capital.”

In the council chamber Powell had dismissed Blix’s briefing as mere “process” and said “these are all tricks that are being played on us.” He added: “The burden now is on Saddam Hussein with respect to the question of whether there will be war or peace.”  France and Germany joined China and Russia and other council members in asking for the inspectors to be given more time.

After his speech, at the press stakeout outside the Security Council chamber, I asked de Villepin what could be done to stop the war. He repeated that France and other nations would continue to support the work of the UN inspectors.

Some days after this I found myself alone in a corridor with Sir Jeremy Greenstock, the British ambassador to the UN. With momentum now shifted against the U.S. and UK, I asked him why now, after 12 years of incremental progress of UN inspections, with inspections ongoing, with the inspectors declaring no major unfound WMD, and with Iraq threatening no one, was there this sudden drive towards war?

“Because Washington says so,” Greenstock told me in an extraordinary moment of candor. It was that simple. Washington said, “Jump!” and London asked, “How high?”  Except Berlin and Paris had unusually joined Moscow and Beijing in saying, “No.”

Then on March 7 Blix and ElBaradei again reported to the Security Council and more directly challenged Powell’s “solid intelligence.” ElBaradei instead solidly refuted Powell’s “intelligence” on the aluminum tubes. He said

“With regard to the aluminum tubes, the IAEA has conducted a thorough investigation of Iraq’s attempt to purchase large quantities of high-strength aluminum tubes. As previously reported, Iraq has maintained that these aluminum tubes were sold for rocket production.

Extensive field investigation and document analysis have failed to uncover any evidence that Iraq intended to use these 81-millimeter tubes for any project other than the reverse engineering of rockets.

Based on available evidence, the IAEA team has concluded that Iraq efforts to import these aluminum tubes were not likely to have been related to the manufacture of centrifuge, and moreover that it was highly unlikely that Iraq could have achieved the considerable redesign needed to use them in a revived centrifuge program.”

ElBaradei then said: “IAEA experts familiar with the use of such magnets in centrifuge enrichment have verified that none of the magnets that Iraq has declared could be used directly for centrifuge magnetic bearings.” And then in the most pointed refutation of U.S. “intelligence,” ElBaradei declared the story of Iraq importing yellow cake uranium from Niger to be a fake.  He told the council:

“Iraq has provided the IAEA with a comprehensive explanation of its relations with Niger and has described a visit by an Iraqi official to a number of African countries, including Niger in February 1999, which Iraq thought might have given rise to the reports.

The IAEA was able to review correspondence coming from various bodies of the government of Niger and to compare the form, format, contents and signature of that correspondence with those of the alleged procurement-related documentation.

Based on thorough analysis, the IAEA has concluded with the concurrence of outside experts that these documents which formed the basis for the report of recent uranium transaction between Iraq and Niger are in fact not authentic. We have therefore concluded that these specific allegations are unfounded.”

I emerged from my office down the corridor into an open area of the Conference Building to find Richard Roth of CNN and Catherine MacKenzie, the British mission press officer, in conversation. I announced that ElBaradei had just debunked both the aluminum tubes and the Niger yellow cake stories.

“I hardly think that will make the headlines,” MacKenzie said.  She was right. The refutation of Powell’s Feb. 5 presentation did not make the same headlines. Instead the U.S. and British media, especially on television with new graphics and music, began ramping up the manic drive to war. 

Media Off the Rails

At this time I was covering the UN for three main outlets: A Canadian chain called Southam News that published the Montreal Gazette, Ottawa Citizen, Vancouver Sun and about a dozen other papers; Independent Newspapers of South Africa, publishers of The Star (Johannesburg), The Pretoria News, The Cape Times and 14 other newspapers. I was also still filing for The Boston Globe and The Sunday Times of London, with whose Washington correspondent I engaged in friendly, but fierce debates about the drive to war. 

As it became clear that the U.S. and Britain would not get the second resolution authorizing an invasion, my coverage heavily highlighted the international resistance, led by U.S. allies Germany and France. This was appreciated by my editors in South Africa. But then I got a call from the Southam foreign editor in Ottawa. 

He told me point blank that his son was a Canadian Marine and that my coverage had to support the war. I told him I was sure he was proud of his son but that my job was to report what was happening at the Security Council. 

On March 19, it was Greenstock, who would become deputy to U.S. vizier Paul Bremer in Iraq, who announced that diplomacy had ended. 

I left the UN, returned home at 5 pm and crawled into bed with a sense of dread I’d never experienced. Later I watched as a CNN correspondent aboard a U.S. war ship cheered, “Welcome to Shock and Awe!” as cruise missiles were launched on the Iraqi capital. The next day I was informed by Southam News that I had been fired.

New York Times Apologizes

The warmongering coverage in Western media was so harsh and so few reporters resisted it, that Ariana Huffington included me in her book Right is Wrong on an “honor roll” of the few reporters who did not buy the Bush administration’s lies leading to war.   

It took more than a year after the invasion for The New York Times on May 26, 2004 to make a monumental confession to its readers:  it had gotten the most consequential story in a generation wrong. In essence the Times was admitting it had blood on its hands as it succumbed to war hysteria and played a part in facilitating the catastrophe by being too gullible to “intelligence sources” and opportunistic Iraqi defectors. 

And now, 17 years after the fact, we have an even fuller account in The New York Times Magazine of how wrong The New York Times and the rest of a rabid corporate media had been to believe cooked-up U.S. intelligence justifying the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of innocent strangers thousands of miles from American shores. 

The Times Magazine article to be published in print on Sunday by Robert Draper is entitled “Colin Powell Still Wants Answers.”  Draper tells us that Powell was opposed to the invasion of Iraq and thought the idea was so ludicrous that it would just go away by itself. By the time Powell realized that Vice President Dick Cheney, Pentagon chief Donald Rumsfeld, National Security Advisor Condoleeza Rice and others were serious, it was too late.   

Draper offers this explanation from an unnamed CIA source for why the agency went along with the administration’s demands to find the goods on Saddam: “‘The first thing they teach you in C.I.A. 101 is you don’t help them make the case,’ said an agency official who was involved in the project. ‘But we were all infected in the case for war.’”

As Draper reports, and as retired CIA analyst Ray McGovern in Consortium News expounds on today, CIA Director George Tenet came to Powell’s rescue, advising him to base his UN speech on an October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate that McGovern argues was designed “to ‘justify’ preemptive war on Iraq, where there was nothing to preempt.”

Now, 17 years later Powell is unafraid to admit he said things in that Security Council speech that he had no idea were true or not. Draper writes: “He paraphrased a line about Iraq’s supposed weapons of mass destruction from the intelligence assessment that had informed his U.N. speech, which intelligence officials had assured him was rock solid: ‘”We judge that they have 100 to 500 metric tons of chemical weapons, all produced within the last year.”’ How could they have known that?’ he said with caustic disbelief.”   

Draper tracked down the analysts who wrote that memo and he reports: “There was exactly zero proof that Hussein had a chemical-weapons stockpile. The C.I.A. analysts knew only that he once had such a stockpile, before the 1991 Persian Gulf war … “

But as Scott Ritter argued on Consortium News today, Powell knew what he was up to:  he supported regime change and needed a better rationale.

Why Didn’t He Resign?

In April 1980, a predecessor of Powell’s at the State Department, Secretary of State Cyrus Vance resigned in opposition to President Jimmy Carter’s ultimately failed military mission to rescue U.S. hostages in Iran.  Only one other U.S. secretary of state since the Civil War had publicly resigned because of his conscience:  William Jennings Bryan in 1915 quit Woodrow Wilson’s cabinet over Wilson’s aggressive policy towards Germany, the Times reported the day Vance left. 

With Vance in mind, I’ve long wondered why, if Powell were so unconvinced by the evidence, did he not resign rather than make that Feb. 5, 2003 presentation to the Security Council. How many lives might he have saved in a circumstance far more serious than even the one that prompted Vance to step down?

Powell could have used Vance’s resignation letter to Carter as a guide: “You would not be well served in the coming weeks and months by a secretary of state who could not offer you the public backing you need on an issue and decision of such extraordinary importance — no matter how firm I remain in my support on other issues, as I do, or how loyal I am to you as our leader.”

Powell meeting Nixon as a White House fellow in 1973. (Wikimedia Common)

My thought has been that Powell is a military man through and through and he did not react as a civilian in the nation’s top diplomatic, not military post. He did not have to obey the president the way a military man in a military post is subordinate to civilian control. But Powell has been subservient to presidents in a variety of roles all his life.

From serving President Richard Nixon in 1973 as a White House fellow, Powell became first deputy and then national security adviser for President Ronald Reagan from 1987 to 1989. He left that post to become the 12th chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff serving both Presidents George H.W. Bush (during the First Gulf War) and Bill Clinton, from 1989 to 1993. 

Reagan meeting on the Persian Gulf with National Security Advisor Powell April 1988 (Wikimedia Commons)

He then became secretary of state for President George W. Bush in January 2001 until January 2005, remaining  on the job for nearly two full years after Iraq was ripped part.  

Powell is not known to act from conscience or to buck authority. As a young U.S. Army Major serving in Saigon, during the Vietnam War, Powell was asked to investigate a letter written by a soldier of conscience who was reporting on a massacre perpetrated by U.S. soldiers in the village My Lai. Powell concluded in writing that, “In direct refutation of this portrayal is the fact that relations between American soldiers and the Vietnamese people are excellent.”

When he was asked about this a year after the Iraq invasion, on May 4, 2004, by interviewer Larry King, Powell said: “I mean, I was in a unit that was responsible for My Lai. I got there after My Lai happened. So, in war, these sorts of horrible things happen every now and again, but they are still to be deplored.” 

What If?

Draper provides a very useful speculation of what might have happened had Powell resigned rather than go to the Security Council:

“Because of its long shadow, the U.N. speech invites one of the Bush presidency’s most poignant what-ifs. What if that same voice that publicly proclaimed the necessity of invading Iraq had instead told Bush privately that it was not merely an invitation to unintended consequences but a mistake, as he personally believed it to be? What if he had said no to Bush when he asked him to speak before the U.N.? Powell would almost certainly have been obligated to resign, and many if not all of his top staff members involved in the Iraq issue would also have quit; several had already considered doing so the previous summer.

If the State Department’s top team had emptied out their desks, what would Powell’s close friend [UK Foreign Secretary Jack] Straw have done? “If Powell had decided to resign in advance of the Iraq war,” Straw told me, “I would almost certainly have done so, too.” Blair’s support in the Labour Party would have cratered — and had Blair withdrawn his support for war under pressure from Parliament or simply failed to win an authorization vote, the narrative of collapsed momentum would have dominated the news coverage for weeks. Doubters in the upper ranks of the American military — there were several — would have been empowered to speak out; intelligence would have been re-examined; Democrats, now liberated from the political pressures of the midterm elections, would most likely have joined the chorus.

This domino effect required a first move by Bush’s secretary of state.” 

Had he resigned and denounced the intelligence as fraudulent, would the media have been turned against the war? Cheney told him he was the most popular man in America.

Powell’s response to this possible scenario was:

“But I knew I didn’t have any choice,” Powell told me. “What choice did I have? He’s the president.”

“I’m sort of not the resigning type,” [former British Foreign Secretary Jack] Straw said. “Nor is Powell. And that’s the problem.”

“He’s the president,” and he wanted regime change.

It is the public in Iraq and the United States who need answers, not Colin Powell.

Joe Lauria is editor-in-chief of Consortium News and a former UN correspondent for The Wall Street Journal, Boston Globe,  and numerous other newspapers. He was an investigative reporter for the Sunday Times of London and began his professional work as a stringer for The New York Times.  He can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @unjoe .

Please Support CN’s
Fall Fund Drive!

Donate securely with PayPal


Or securely by credit card or check by clicking the red button:




42 comments for “JOE LAURIA: Powell & Iraq—How One Resignation May Have Stopped the Disastrous Invasion

  1. Antiwar7
    October 19, 2021 at 14:09

    Colin Powell never meant well. He was clearly a self-serving sociopath his whole life, and deserves none of our sympathy or rationalizations.

  2. October 19, 2021 at 12:04

    thanks joe a piece of history based on the facts that were very hard to believe at the time. A sad but obligatory trip down (sad) memory lane. A crucial piece of history.

    A good lesson for when you take a soldier who gets where he is by saluting smartly, cutting corners right and left. Easy to sacrifice what integrity you might have left after zooming up the ladder that way. I used to arrive at the Pentagon with “The President’s Daily Brief” every other morning for a one-on-one with his boss Weinberger. I usually came 15 min early to tell Colin whatever I could share with him, to reassure him.

    Colin grew up in the Bronx at the same time I did — two miles away. Both from immigrant families, but I had my Irish grandmother with me to help keep my feet on the ground.” One of her most often used expressions was: “Be truthful and honest; then you won’t give a damn what anyone says about you.” I am very grateful for that.

    Fellow Bronxite Danny Schecter and I tried to revoke his Bronx citizenship, but we could never get to a vote because he was so popular. We also tried on Eric Holder; again, it didn’t go through.

    Good job, Joe

    • Joe Lauria
      October 19, 2021 at 17:27

      Thanks Ray. I hope I never lose my Bronx citizenship. I also went to the same university as Powell, CCNY. His diploma should have been revoked for not maintaining the standards of the Harvard of the Proletariat.

  3. K.lyimo
    October 19, 2021 at 08:58

    Joe lauria
    Beautifully written unbiased piece

    Only question remains who was behind the war on Iraq or which country , why did they posses so much influence to even bend or break a man of Collins stature

    Finally what was achieved? Are behind all this going to be persecuted or Iraq compensated

  4. October 19, 2021 at 05:13

    One Amerikkkan War Criminal less.

  5. Eric
    October 19, 2021 at 01:20

    I wonder what top Powell adviser Larry Wilkerson has to say.
    Knowing what he did, why didn’t he resign?

    • robert e williamson jr
      October 19, 2021 at 11:24

      Why didn’t Powell decide to speak “truth to power” as Col. Wilkerson did after learning he was powerless to do much of anything else?

      We need many more Col. Wilkersons if you ask me.

  6. Andrew Nichols
    October 19, 2021 at 01:05

    Another war criminal facing divine justice having escaped it in this life. I hope he and Rummy like hot places and pitchforks up the backside.

  7. Maxine
    October 18, 2021 at 16:14

    I do not remember the exact story….But wasn’t there an incident during the Vietnam War whereby a bunch of US soldiers raped a poor little girl who was simply carrying her goods home from market?….Bloodied up, she died on the way home….I believe Colin Powell was made aware of the incident but simply waved it away as unimportant and didn’t prosecute the criminals.

    Can anyone confirm this?

  8. rosemerry
    October 18, 2021 at 15:25

    The continuing belligerent behavior of the USA, considering it is always right and pushing ahead, show what happens when the criminals are able to get away with it. Why was the USA able to overthrow by violence the 2014 Ukrainian government,support Ukraine when the Russians stopped the desired NATO base by allowing Crimea to vote to rejoin Russia (pretending some decades old internal USSR arrangement was relevant) and ever since persuaded EU and others to punish Russia for “annexing Crimea” when the USA dragged Kosovo out of Serbia and called it a country!
    We never get the full story out of these matters either.

  9. Jeff Harrison
    July 20, 2020 at 17:48

    Great piece, Joe but your headline is wishful thinking. Regardless of his personal qualities, had Colin Powell resigned, the war criminal crew running the regime in Washington would have simply replaced him and moved on. If no UN resolution didn’t slow them down, a missing secretary of state would be a mere piffle.

      July 20, 2020 at 23:04

      The headline says “May” and if one reads to the end of the piece a very plausible scenario is sketched out in the NYT article about what *may* have been the consequences had Powell resigned. From from “wishful thinking” it’s a statement of fact.

    • July 21, 2020 at 14:39

      Powell, at least of paper, was an authoritative expert on military and foreign affairs. UK establishment raised following USA to a form of religion (Tony Blair intention? Thatcher had some opinions of her own) but a split in Washington could indeed make an impact.

      OTH, Powell is a very good liar, perhaps the best. Steely gaze, deep voice, measured cadences. He HAD to know that “aluminum pipes” and “Nigerian yellow cake” were debunked thoroughly, that mobile biological labs were preposterous (common sense is enough to figure that much) . He was not a mere instrument, but a willing participants in the project based on lies.

      The case if his resignation alone, or supplemented with an exposure of lies deployed by Bush Jr. administration, would suffice to stop the calamity is a bit speculative, but plausible. Of course it applies to a number of other people who could make a difference, like Democratic senators. Straw that did not have to wait for a signal from Washington to find a conscience (he had to know about already debunked and repeated lies etc.). But it is hard to find any warmonger who did not have a religious type of conviction in that cause who could make as much of a difference as Colin Powell.

  10. Drew Hunkins
    July 20, 2020 at 14:49

    Spot on Mr. Lauria, Powell should indeed have resigned.

    • jimmy
      July 23, 2020 at 15:18

      He should have resigned, but didn’t. And thus, he’s a war criminal.

  11. Raymond Comeau
    July 20, 2020 at 14:04

    Thank you for the excellent article. And the attendant responses. I printed it all, and will be showing it to my friends.

    NOW! what is missing is why the criminals who killed (and are still ) killing millions of people in Iraq not brought to trial. Surely the International Criminal Court in The Hague, could try all the people ( Like Colin Powell ) and after a fair trial and the finding of ” GUILTY’ sentence them to death! That might end the insanity within the USA, UK, and USA’S other Puppet Governments. It makes me feel ill that the world is controlled by these miserable maniac murderers!

    I invite everyone to reply to my message and give me some answers.

    • Ian Stevenson
      October 19, 2021 at 09:21

      The US has taken care not to join the International Criminal Court.
      When some wanted Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories investigated, Boris Johnson agreed with the US it should not be done. Jumping to American wishes continues.

  12. James
    July 20, 2020 at 13:49

    “Unleash the dogs of war. I’m confident we will win.”

    – ‘Sleepy’ Joe Biden on Iraq, 2003

  13. Vivek Jain
    July 20, 2020 at 07:04

    you gotta read this 2002 article by David Armstrong, “Dick Cheney’s Song of America” hXXps://

    Powell would not be the one to resign. He was fully on-board the US Empire’s seizing the opportunity to pursue world domination and to make up bogus fictitious enemies to justify increasing military spending, So long, Peace Dividend!

  14. Eddie S
    July 19, 2020 at 23:58

    This whole Iraq War(crimes) episode sticks in my mind as the single most blatant EXPOSURE of US wrongdoing in my 71- years, just ahead of The Pentagon Papers, the U2 ‘incident’, My Lai, and several others. I’m not saying it’s the only ethically repugnant we’ve ever done, but the other horrors we precipitated were not so QUICKLY revealed by the MSM! The war-mongering was loudly and unabashedly exercised by the W administration AND the MSM, only to be irrefutably revealed as baseless and fraudulent within a year. Usually these revelations are found only in alternative media and thus dismissed by the general population and the powerful, but this was found-out almost immediately when the much-dreaded WMDs were NEVER found in Iraq.
    Though definitely not as bad as the war crimes perpetrated against Iraq, the aftermath in the US was disgusting. Nobody other than Judith Miller lost their position nor was prosecuted, W was re-elected (and has since been ‘rehabilitated’ by the Democrats, among others), the MSM issued meaningless and gratingly insincere mea culpas, and now this kind of ‘politically-based’ intelligence is seemingly commonplace.
    God bless America…(?)

  15. Rob
    July 19, 2020 at 17:17

    Despite the NYT’s apologia in May 2004, I cannot believe for one second that they were not fully aware that they were being used as a conduit for the propagation of unsupported claims (that they must have suspected were lies) regarding Iraq possessing WMD and having ties to Al Qeda. The Times not only spread these claims, they actively led the cheering for war. There were plenty of doubters and skeptics, but not the Times and their fellow prevaricators throughout the MSM. The blood on their hands can never be washed away.

    And of course, they’re still at the prevaricating, what with full-time Russia and China-bashing. The lies never stop coming.

  16. July 19, 2020 at 14:01

    Check out The Agony of Colin Powell

  17. rgl
    July 19, 2020 at 13:25

    I do not see the point in this ‘what-if’ piece. Powell did not resign, Straw did not resign, an illegal war of aggression was implemented against a sovereign state – Iraq – and we are were we are. Of course it is useful to know the lead up to this massive war crime, but musings on ‘what if Powell resigned’ accrue what benefit to the conversation exactly?

    It is enough to know the level of corruption – that existed in the US government during the run up to the war of non-existent weapons of mass destruction – that continues up to the present day. I would think it would be far more useful to explore ways and means to counter this corruption rather that to ruminate on ‘what-if’ scenarios.

    What if the American public didn’t elect Bu$hit in the first place.

      July 20, 2020 at 02:10

      The question of Powell’s recognition was raised by the NYT piece, and this article addresses that as well as the corruption of the media in helping to facilitate the invasion.

  18. Skip Scott
    July 19, 2020 at 08:35

    I wonder if Powell, now in his senior years, has trouble sleeping at night knowing he was directly responsible for the death of so many innocents. His saying that he wants answers is just a ruse to have us believe he was being played by higher ups. As these three articles illustrate, that story is a complete crock, and he knows it. He is more concerned about his cleansing his legacy than he is about atoning for his sins. He is a man without integrity or conscience.

  19. Thomas Mellman
    July 19, 2020 at 06:04

    Maybe he’ll reflect on this, and help us blow the cover on Russiagate, etc.

    • michael888
      July 19, 2020 at 13:56

      That was my thought as well. A fake decision based on fake evidence directed from above without regard for anything beyond the bogeyman of Saddam Hussein and the “need” for War. 17 years later we dissect the act and agree it was reprehensible.
      Russiagate was worse in many ways. The critical “evidence” was bought from a foreign agent, supposedly from Russian Intelligence interfering for the DNC in the 2016 election. The hacking of DNC emails by Russia and release to wikileaks by Putin never happened. There were cutouts and politicized intelligence agency involvement at many levels to reach decisions Obama wanted. The bogeyman was an infantile outsider who dared challenge the DC Establishment, who overwhelmingly voted for his opponent in DC (Hillary received 91% of the vote there and with similar outsized totals in Virgina and Maryland suburbs). For his whole term, the #resistance has refused to accept the 2016 Election results. The shenanigans/ illegalities involved throughout the FISA warrants, slow-walking and losing evidence, Russiagate, Ukrainegate, impeachment were largely ignored by most of the country, but were the focus of the DC battle to bring Trump down, cheered on by MSM as well as the MICIMATT. If these Congressional games had not been played in DC, if these distractions had not been ongoing, would the national covid-19 response have been different? Will we still be dissecting “fake decisions based on fake evidence directed from above” with Russiagate in 15 years as now with the WMD Lie? Is it really that important to throw out a boorish clown President, duly elected, considering the torture and police state started under Bush, continued, along with $29 trillion in Wall Street bailouts and loss of over five million homes, under Obama? Why is Trump so all consuming? Vote him out in November. Why destroy America to bring him down?

    • July 21, 2020 at 15:04

      I would mildly disagree. This was “repetition of a tragedy as a farce”. The mechanism that I perceive is seeing strength of the opponents in their vices and copying them to the best of the ability. In the case of Democratic leadership, that ability is mediocre.

      Trump started his political carrier as a major voice in “birther movement” that harped about the weird theories concerning the birth of Obama. That created a motivation to turn equally ridiculous stuff against him. Why didn’t they use repeated attempts of Trump to undermine health of tens of millions of Americans and similar topics that actually matter? One can make gray-to-black conjectures. IMHO, with a good choice of topics and program planks, Democrats have a potential to be a dominant political party, but too many of them are tepid to some of those plank, hostile to other etc.

      There is something like collective intelligence, and in the case of Democratic leadership, Joe Biden is the best expression of their collective intelligence, through his weaselly positions in his better years to the senility today. A groups can exceed the average intelligence of its members, combining experience, common sense and particular expertise of various individuals. Or it can dissipate the individual intelligence by creating groupthink and shiboleths to enforce it.

  20. C Kovalic
    July 19, 2020 at 02:48

    Thank you for the constant reminders of the role the corporate media played and continues to play in America’s self-deception. This self-deception happens at both collective and individual levels as we see from this article about Powell. I clearly remember feeling outrage at the print media for failing to put the lack of evidence and the results of weapons inspections front and center, and at the corporate TV news for beating the drums of war.

  21. bardamu
    July 19, 2020 at 01:33

    Well, had Powell resigned, surely that would have made for some improvement. Had Cheney resigned, had Bush resigned, had Rummy resigned, had Condy resigned, that would have been all the better. Had Judith Miller resigned her post from the NYT, that might have made for something, though not a turn from war, surely.

    Not one of them did. The contradiction of their lies was public and unsubtle. It involved the very personnel assigned to inspect Iraq for WMD. This was not an intelligence failure. This was the ethical failure of an executive, an administration, a government, and a people. The lie was obvious.

    Of course, it was not the first such failure. And it was not the last.

    Wishing the event happened differently does nothing. Removing the persons does little. The system is broken. It needs alteration or replacement.

    • Anonymot
      October 18, 2021 at 19:40

      Yes, yes.

  22. July 19, 2020 at 00:55

    No one becomes a four-star General and National Security Advisor unless they demonstrate total commitment to political leaders. Powell was no different, a spineless bureaucrat. Nearly everyone in Congress and the media knew that Iraq had no WMDs, as explained in this short documentary:


  23. July 19, 2020 at 00:01

    The short answer is that Colin Powell is a coward. From what I can gather, he knows better on a lot of these policies. He advised against the first Iraq War during the Bush I administration, believing it wasn’t worth it to go to war but stating that if we did go to war he needed approval to use overwhelming force (Powell Doctrine). He also favored a more realist approach toward Russia as opposed to the Neocon approach during the Bush II administration. But at the end of the day, Powell is a good little soldier who takes orders and will not take a stand. He had a lot of political capital prior to his farcical UN presentation. He was pretty well respected across the political spectrum. We’ll never know if his resignation could have made a difference because he refused to do it. He’s a rather tragic figure.

  24. Nathan Mulcahy
    July 18, 2020 at 23:37

    “ “I’m sort of not the resigning type,” Straw said. “Nor is Powell. And that’s the problem.”

    Of course not, they are of the war criminal type.

    • AnneR
      July 19, 2020 at 13:46

      So true, NM, so bloody true. And bloody also in the full sense of the word…Would that that were not really the truth.

  25. Edward
    July 18, 2020 at 23:11

    Powell was also involved in the military whitewash of the Panama invasion. His advancement was probably due to this willingness to cover up atrocities and reflects the culture of the military.

    • AnneR
      July 19, 2020 at 13:48

      Surely, Edward, not just cover them up but worse yet COMMIT them.

      And then, there’s that revolving door to remember: the weapons manufacturers like to use (employ, sorry) ex-mil, ex-Congressionals to sell their products and their “importance” to Congress…

    • July 19, 2020 at 15:42

      His colleague at Treasury, Paul O’Neill, resigned and went public when W tried to bully him into going along with the “noble lie”.

      Why are people like Powell allowed to live among us? His crime is of world historical magnitude. And one supposes he is the very type of Washington operative, liars and cowards up the organization. Apparently The Orange Man isn’t going to drain the swamp like he promised, but we do desperately need a “truth commission” to set things right and hold these people accountable.

  26. Gyre07
    July 18, 2020 at 22:14

    My God, the US is mentally-ill, as are the puppets (like Powell) who dance when their masters tell them to knowing that a slaughter of innocents will ensue. I only hope that the Editor in chief at Time, and Powell burn in hell. The sooner the better.

  27. Bob Van Noy
    July 18, 2020 at 21:56

    Joe, one of the reasons that Consortiumnews has been so important to me personally is, how correct Robert Parry has always been about Colin Powell. I’ll link his early writing below. What Robert Parry was highlighting was the The Operation Phoenix process that was so intensely illegal.

    Interestingly, it was these type of atrocities that William Pepper tried to highlight and could not, that inspired Martin Luther King to broaden his efforts to anti war as well as civil rights…

    Colin Powell has been disingenuous for most of his “career”.


    July 18, 2020 at 21:29


    I remember de Villepin and I was proud of France at the time.I sent an e-mail to the French government thanking them

    Because I had taken the trouble to study the issue, I knew Powell was lying.

    It was such a shame, his crawling to serve the lowlifes like Cheney, Rumsfeld, and Bush.

    I believe many of us thought he was better than that then.

    I am glad Consortium News is publishing many items on him.

    He was a complete sell-out, a man many admired who probably could have become President had his wife recommended he not run..

    This is all a vivid reminder of what a complete lack of genuine leadership America has.

    • AnneR
      July 19, 2020 at 13:56

      While almost all true and I agree, about your final statement I do have serious, even complete reservations. As my late husband would say: “leaders” = fuhrerin. And we – the peoples of the world – do not need an imperial Leader/Fuhrer. Ta muchly.

      You may of course mean America itself (just realized this, rather than my immediate reaction) – and again, am dubious. Leaders…hm. No ta, at least not in the way that seems to feel. (Must be more syndicalist-anarchist than I realized, than my late love, who viewed me as the last Leninist, believed.)

Comments are closed.