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Who's Taking Cheap Shots?

1:17 PM, Aug 29, 2011 • By DANIEL HALPER
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Colin Powell says that Dick Cheney is taking "cheap shots" in his forthcoming memoir:

Former Secretary of State Colin Powell on Sunday dismissed as "cheap shots" the criticism leveled at him and others in Vice President Dick Cheney's memoir. It was the latest volley in a clash that stretches back to their first years in the George W. Bush administration. Powell went so far as to say that if Cheney's staff and others in Bush's White House had been as forthcoming as the State Department in the case involving CIA operative Valerie Plame, the indictment and conviction of Cheney's friend and former chief of staff never would have happened.

Powell's attack on Cheney was part of a greater critique of the former vice president on CBS yesterday, where he said the following: 

Then he goes on to talk about the Valerie Plame affair, and tries to lay it all off on Mister Rich Armitage in the State Department and me. But the fact of the matter is when Mister Armitage realized that he was the source for Bob Novak’s column that caused all the difficulty and he called me immediately, two days after the President launched the investigation and what we did was we called the Justice Department. They sent it over the FBI. The FBI had all the information that Mister Armitage’s participation in this immediately. And we called Al Gonzalez, the President’s counsel, and told him that we had information. The FBI asked us not to share any of this with anyone else, as did Mister Gonzalez. And so, if the White House operatives had come forward as readily as Mister Armitage had done, then we wouldn’t have gone on for two more months with the FBI trying to find out what happened in the White House. There wouldn’t have been special counsel appointed by the Justice Department who spent two years trying to get to the bottom of it. And we wouldn’t have the mess that we subsequently had. And so if the White House and the operatives in the White House and Mister Cheney’s staff and elsewhere in the White House had been as forthcoming with the FBI as Mister Armitage was, this problem would not have reached the dimensions that it reached.

Jen Rubin explains what's wrong with Powell's version:

Let’s count the ways in which this is inaccurate or misleading. To begin with, Powell leaves out the critical fact: He and Armitage never told the president what Armitage had done. Instead, they sat silent as the investigation played out and others, including Karl Rove and Libby, were ensnared in an investigation for a crime that, if committed at all, was one for which Armitage should rightly have been prosecuted. Powell on Sunday slyly said they informed the attorney general that they “had information.” But they most definitely did not tell him, the president or the country that the leaker was Armitage....

In a Cabinet meeting on October 7, 2003, the White House press corps bombarded President George W. Bush with questions about who the leaker was. Bush said he didn’t know, but there would be an investigation to get to the bottom of it. Powell, who had been told by Armitage just days earlier that Armitage was the leaker, sat there next to the president, stone silent. Not very loyal or honest, was it?

Moreover, the notion that Armitage’s slip was somehow inadvertent is belied by Bob Woodward’s taped interview in which Armitagerepeatedly drops Plame’s name, evidently doing his best to get Plame’s name out. This was no slip of the tongue. Woodward testified that when he spoke to Libby sometime later that Libby never said anything about Plame.

At issue here is not simply Powell and Armitage’s deception and undermining of their commander in chief. There was a victim, one whom neither Powell or Armitage has ever apologized to. The person who ultimately paid the price for this was Scooter Libby. 

Read Rubin's whole piece here.

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