Former Secretary of State Colin Powell slammed former Vice President Dick Cheney today on CBS’s Face the Nation, accusing Cheney of taking “cheap shots” at Bush administration officials in his new memoir and promoting it by using language inappropriate for a former vice president. While they worked for the same president, Cheney allegedly criticizes Powell in his much-anticipated autobiography, In My Time, which he predicted will have “heads exploding all over Washington.” That’s “the kind of headline you might see [on] one of the supermarket tabloids,” Powell said of Cheney’s exploding heads comment, “It’s not the kind of headline I would have expected to come from a former Vice President of the United States of America”:
SCHIEFFER: And we’re back now with former Secretary of State Colin Powell, we want to talk a little politics and talk a little about this book that Dick Cheney himself said is going to cause heads all over Washington to explode. I guess I’d ask you, General, is your head exploding?
POWELL: My head isn’t exploding, I haven’t noticed any other heads exploding in Washington, D.C. And the explosive part of the book is when Mr. Cheney says is explosive, but from what I’ve read in the newspapers and seen on television it’s essentially a rehash of events of seven or eight years ago. What really sort of got my attention was this way in which he characterized it: it’s going to cause heads to explode. That’s quite a visual. And in fact, it’s the kind of headline I would expect to come out of a gossip columnist, or the kind of headline you might see one of the supermarket tabloids write. It’s not the kind of headline I would have expected to come from a former Vice President of the United States of America. Mr. Cheney has had a long and distinguished career and I hope in his book that’s what he will focus on, not these cheap shots that he’s taking at me and other members of the Administration who served to the best of our ability for President Bush.
In a withering criticism of the former vice president, Powell goes on at length and in detail to explain how the “cheap shots” Cheney aims at Powell and “other administration officials” are false, and how Cheney is himself to blame for much of it. “I’m the one who said to President Bush, [about Iraq] that if you break it, you own it,” Powell said, but “Mr. Cheney and many of his colleagues did not prepare for what happened after the fall of Baghdad.” On the Valerie Plame scandal, Powell says “White House operatives,” especially those “on Mr. Cheney’s staff,” did not fully cooperate in the FBI’s investigation and were not “forthcoming.” Powell also addresses his 2004 resignation, his speech the United Nations about the Iraq war, and other accusations Cheney makes about Powell in the book.
Powell said Cheney also unfairly attacks former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, former CIA chief George Tenet, and even President Bush himself. “It’s not necessary to take these kind of barbs and then try to pump a book up by saying ‘heads will be exploding,'” Powell says, noting Cheney’s comments go beyond mere disagreements are personal in nature.
Powell and Cheney have publicly feuded before. Powell’s former chief of staff even once called Cheney “evil,” and Cheney said he sided with Rush Limbaugh over Colin Powell after the latter criticized the radio hosts’ divisive rehtoric.