Powell Defends Eavesdropping and Bush, Former Aide is Sad


This is the second major interview in ten days where Colin Powell has defended the Bush Administration since he was attacked by a former aide. In October, former aide Lawrence Wilkerson, attacked Secretary Powell on his loyalty to President Bush in interviews with the media. Now Wilkerson has a “sad tone” that Powell is giving him a cold shoulder.

In his first Sunday interview since retiring, Colin Powell said today that he supports eavesdropping to prevent terrorism:


When he was in the Cabinet, he was not told that President Bush authorized a warrantless National Security Agency surveillance operation after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

Appearing on ABC’s “This Week” Powell said he sees “absolutely nothing wrong with the president authorizing these kinds of actions” to protect the nation.

But he added, “My own judgment is that it didn’t seem to me, anyway, that it would have been that hard to go get the warrants. And even in the case of an emergency, you go and do it.”

The New York Times reported on its Internet site Friday that the NSA has traced and analyzed large volumes of telephone and Internet communications flowing into and out of the United States. The program bypassed the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.

Powell said Congress will need to judge whether Bush is correct in his assertion that he could approve eavesdropping without first obtaining court orders.

“And that’s going to be a great debate,” Powell said.

Powell, who also is a former chairman of the military Joint Chiefs of Staff, had no reservations when asked whether eavesdropping should continue.

“Of course it should continue,” he said. “And nobody is suggesting that the president shouldn’t do this.”

Powell also defended President Bush during the interview on “This Week”:

Stephanopoulos: Last Sunday, the president, in the most high-profile way he ever has before, acknowledged that the intelligence going into the war was false and he took responsibility for it. Should he have done that earlier?

Powell: Well, I think it’s been known for some time. And I’ve heard him express, not as clearly as he did last weekend, but I’ve heard him express responsibility for this.

But the reality is that some of the intelligence was right. There’s no question that Saddam Hussein had the intention of having such weapons, and he was retaining the capability to have such weapons.

What we got wrong, dead-wrong, was that there were actual stockpiles of chemical weapons and biological weapons and the mobile labs that became so famous. And the reality is, all of that was gone.

Were we deceived in believing it was there by Saddam Hussein or those who had other motives for wanting us to believe that? I don’t know. But it was something that we believed and our intelligence community believed.

Stephanopoulos: Granting that it was an honest mistake, had you known that no weapons would be found, would you have advocated invasion?

Powell: I don’t know how to answer that question. I think it would have changed the basic calculus, because when the president went to the United Nations in September of 2002, that was the principal case he made.

But he also indicated, as I did, in my Feb. 5th presentation of 2003, that there were human rights violations, there were other violations of U.N. resolutions, there was terrorist activity.

Stephanopoulos: We’re been right in the middle of a debate about the rule of law here in the United States this week, now that the president has acknowledged that he authorized the National Security Agency to spy on Americans without a court warrant…

Powell: And in the aftermath of 9/11, the American people had one concern, and that was to protect us. And so, I see absolutely nothing wrong with the president authorizing these kinds of actions.

But where we’re going to have the debate — and we’re having the debate now — is these actions are authorized as a matter of law, laws passed by Congress.

In a BBC interview on December 17, 2005 Powell defended the Bush Administration by claiming they were not aware of the doubts the security community had on WMD information before the War in Iraq. Powell also blasted European governments for their reaction to clandestine CIA flights.

Colin Powell’s embittered aide from the State Department, Lawrence B. Wilkerson, however, is lashing out at the Bush Administration and getting loads of speaking engagements because of it.

Wilkerson said yesterday that he is sad that he is getting the cold shoulder from Colin Powell. He attacked Powell’s loyalty and integrity in the press in October.

Does this explain Powell’s sudden return from retirement taking interviews?

Ace of Spades is not impressed with Powell’s interview.

Michelle Malkin is wanting a translation of what was actually said.

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