Wolf Blitzer just teased his new interview with former Secretary of State Colin Powell, who expressed that he has “no problem” with marriage equality:
BLITZER: You were Chairman of the Joint Chiefs when you installed the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy in the U.S. military that prevented gays from serving openly. I know you changed your attitude over these years, but what about gay marriage? Are you with the President in supporting gay marriage?
POWELL: I have no problem with it, and it was the Congress that imposed Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, though it was certainly my position and my recommendation to get us out of an even worse outcome that could have occurred, as you’ll recall. But as I’ve thought about gay marriage, I know a lot of friends who are individually gay but are in partnerships with loved ones, and they are as stable a family as my family is, and they raise children. And so I don’t see any reason not to say that they should be able to get married.
Powell went on to say he believes the American people are coming around on this issue too. Watch it:
Powell is one of many prominent leaders who have followed President Obama’s lead in supporting the freedom to marry for all families.
Former Secretary of State and retired U.S. Army four-star general Colin Powell criticized Mitt Romney’s foreign policy team today on MSNBC’s Morning Joe. When host Joe Scarbarough asked Powell if he was “concerned” with Romney because of the “neoconservatives around him,” the former Bush administration top diplomat didn’t hold back, criticizing Romney for calling Russia America’s “number one geopolitical foe.” “Come on Mitt,” Powell said, “think.”
Powell added that Romney’s foreign policy advisers “are quite far to the right”:
SCARBOROUGH: Are you concerned with the foreign policy advisers that Mitt Romney has surrounded himself with. That there aren’t enough sergeants and there aren’t enough people with on the ground experience and we seem to have another Republican candidate who is sort of top-heavy when it comes to neoconservatives around him.
POWELL: I’ve noticed that. I don’t know who all of his advisers are but I’ve seen some of the names and some of them are quite far to the right and sometimes I think they might be in a position to make judgements or recommendations to the candidate that should get a second thought. For example when governor Romney not to long ago said “The Russian federation is our number one geo-strategic threat.” Well, come on, Mitt, think. That isn’t the case.
And I don’t know whether Mitt really feels that or — [...] He’s been catching a lot of heck from the more regular GOP foreign affairs community. We’re kind of taken aback by it. How could you say that? Look at the world, there’s no peer competitor to the United States of America.
Watch the clip:
Powell’s right. Romney has surrounded himself with foreign policy advisers that are a bit far to the right. Many of them helped push for the war in Iraq and many others are trying to do the same with Iran. Perhaps this is why Romney, as one of his advisers told the New York Times, “doesn’t want to really engage on these issues until he’s in office.”
In an article for the Nation earlier this month, Ari Berman writes: “Listening to Romney, you’d never know that Bush left office bogged down by two unpopular wars that cost America dearly in blood and treasure,” adding, “On some key issues, like Iran, Romney and his team are to the right of Bush. Romney’s embrace of the neoconservative cause—even if done cynically to woo the right—could turn into a policy nightmare if he becomes president.”
By Eli Clifton and Ali Gharib on Sep 4, 2011 at 12:32 pm
Former Vice President Dick Cheney, continuing his “heads exploding” book tour, pushed back against criticisms of his book by former Secretary of State Colin Powell that the book contained, “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.”
Powell’s former chief of staff retired Col. Lawrence Wilkerson offered even more pointed criticisms of Cheney, telling ABC News that, “[Cheney] was president for all practical purposes for the first term of the Bush administration,” and “fears being tried as a war criminal.”
But today, Cheney appeared in a Fox News interview with Chris Wallace and hit back at his critics from the George W. Bush administration. Read the transcript:
Chris Wallace: When [Colin Powell] says ‘these are cheap shots and you’re wrong’…
Dick Cheney: Obviously I disagree with him.
Wallace: Anything you’d want to take back?
Wallace: Powell’s former chief of staff Lawrence Wilkerson, I don’t know if you know this, has also weighed in. He says you’re worried about being tried as war criminal.
Cheney: Well it’s news to me. I don’t pay a lot of attention to Mr. Wilkerson. I don’t know him. As far as I know I’ve never met the gentleman. I know he speaks out from time to time and that strikes me as a cheap shot.
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.
ThinkProgress has been documenting that cutting the Defense Department’s bloated budget has been gaining momentum over the past year as part of the solution to reduce the deficit and debt. Tea Party-backed Republicans, other conservatives, and progressives are coming together in calling for defense cuts. Ultra-conservative Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) even said recently that “taking defense spending off the table is indefensible.” Today on CNN’s State of the Union, ret. General and former Secretary of State Colin Powell joined the growing chorus in calling for a reduction in defense spending:
CANDY CROWLEY: Where would you with specificity say, “Look we don’t need a bigger military?” Can we cut there?
POWELL: Yeah. I think we have to look at everything, domestic and our international accounts. As we draw down from Iraq and as over the next several years we draw down from Afghanistan, I see no reason why the military shouldn’t be looked at.
When the Cold War ended twenty years ago when I was chairman and Mr. Cheney was Secretary of Defense, we cut the defense budget by 25 percent and we reduced the force by 500,000 active duty soldiers. So it can be done. Now how fast you can do it and what you have to cut out remains to be seen. But I don’t think the defense budget can be made sacrosanct and it can’t be touched.
Also on NBC’s Meet the Press today, Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) said “no one can defend the expenditure of every dollar and cent at the Pentagon and we’ve got to be very serious that they’re doing more with less as well.”
Today, Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Rep. Nydia Velasquez (D-NY) and Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) will meet with President Obama to talk about a way to pass immigration reform or the DREAM Act during Congress’s lame-duck session. If the Democrats decide to move forward on immigration, it will be the first time Congress seriously undertakes immigration since the failed Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2007 and the DREAM Act debate which took place a few months later.
The first bill was strongly backed by the White House, which was then occupied by the second Bush administration. Former President George W. Bush reflected on the failure of immigration reform at a book fair this past weekend:
BUSH: The issue got away. The rhetoric on the issue was very difficult. And somebody was nervous about the border — and I can understand why people are, we ought to enforce our borders — but automatically labeling any comprehensive plan as pure amnesty made it very difficult to get people to pay attention.
Meanwhile, last night, former Secretary of State from the first Bush administration, Colin Powell, explained what moderate Republicans should stand for:
POWELL: A moderate Republican in my judgement is someone who is quite sympathetic to the social needs of our citizens, who is open towards immigration. Immigration is keeping our country thriving. And the issue of civil rights and the issue of taking care of those in our society who are not doing as well as the rest of us — I think that should be part of the Republican mantra too.
Over the past couple of weeks, Bush has repeatedly alluded to the heated rhetoric around the immigration issue that killed comprehensive reform. Yet, he has stopped short of naming names. As Congress considers taking up the issue again, it’s worth noting that it was members of Bush’s own party that engaged in anti-immigrant fear mongering and that they paid for it dearly in the 2008 elections.
Back when Bush was president, Congress still had plenty of Republicans who were moderate on immigration. In fact, several of them — including Sens. Jon Kyl (R-AZ), John McCain (R-AZ), and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) — were looked upon as champions of immigration reform. Now, those three Senators, along with the rest of their party, are the biggest thing standing in its way. Most of them have resorted to the polarizing rhetoric cited by Bush whenever any plan to regularize the status of undocumented immigrants is brought up. No matter how stringent the penalties and requirements are, they cry “amnesty.”
I’ve written before about the serious defects of the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2007, but, regardless of its flaws, it represents an era of bipartisanship and compromise on immigration that Republicans seem incapable of today. I’d love for Republicans to prove me wrong by embracing immigration legislation in the next few weeks. I’m not holding my breath on that, but I am willing to place money on the fact that if they don’t, the Latino vote will come back to bite them again in 2012.
This evening, during an interview on CNN’s Larry King Live, Gen. Colin Powell reiterated his belief that repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell must “take into account the views of our military leaders,” but cautioned LGBT advocates against urging Congress to lift the ban before the Pentagon publishes its review of the policy.
Asked if he agreed with Sen. John McCain’s (R-AZ) evolving view on the issue, Powell said, “I share Senator McCain’s view that we ought to let the process unfold and not try to intercept it with court rulings or with people trying to get a vote out of the Congress when the Congress is not ready to vote on it”:
POWELL: My position has been, it has been 17 years since we put that policy in place. Lots of things have happened. Attitudes have changed within our society. But i always believe, as I believed in 1993, that we have to take into account the views of our military leaders who are responsible for the well-being of the armed forces.
KING: So you support the McCain’s view?
POWELL: Yes. But, you know, our military leaders have now spoken. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Secretary of Defense, there is some, some difference of opinion among the chiefs that will have to be resolved. But I wish that we would just let that study be finished, let it be published and let everybody read it and not leak parts of it. And so I share Senator McCain’s view that we ought to let the process unfold and not try to intercept it with court rulings or with people trying to get a vote out of the Congress when the Congress is not ready to vote on it.
Powell, who helped usher in Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, first announced his support for repeal in February of 2009, as Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Admiral Mike Mullen testified about their support for lifting the ban before the Senate Armed Services Committee.
His comments on King, however, place him to the right of Gates, who has recently called on the Senate to vote on repeal during the lame duck session. Recent leaks from the Pentagon’s study have found that repeal would not disrupt the military during a time of war, leading Sens. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) and Susan Collins (R-ME) to call on the Pentagon to release the study ahead of the December 1 deadline.
Retired General and former Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Colin Powell criticized the Tea Party movement’s inflammatory attacks against President Obama this morning during an appearance on NBC’s Meet The Press, singling out the rhetoric of Newt Gingrich and Sarah Palin. Powell said that while “there’s nothing wrong” with people like Sarah Palin “going out there, presenting her views and animating American political life,” “one of the problems that I’m having with all of this right now is that there is a certain undercurrent of thought that is not helpful.” “When people want to attack the President, attack him. Presidents are used to being attacked. But let’s not go down low,” Powell said.
Pressed by host David Gregory to respond to Newt Gingrich’s recent suggestion that Obama was displaying anti-colonial Kenyan behavior, Powell warned Americans to “think carefully” about Gingrich’s accusations and went on to debunk some of the right-wing’s conspiracy theories:
POWELL: I would just tell my fellow Americans, think carefully about what was just said. Think carefully about some of the stuff that is coming across the blogs and airwaves. Let’s make a couple of points. One, the President was born in the United States of America. Let’s get rid of that one, let’s get rid of the birther thing. Let’s attack him on policy, not nonsense. Next, he is a Christian, he is not a Muslim…And I think we have to be careful when we take things like Dinesh D’Souza’s book, which is the source of all of this, and suggest that somehow the President of the United States is channeling his dead father through some Kenyan spirits. This doesn’t make any sense. Mr. Gingrich does these things from time to time with a big, bold statement. He did it with Sotomayor, she is a “reverse racist.” He did it with Elena Kagan, she ought to be taken off the nomination for Supreme Court justice. And he does it occasionally to make news and also to stir up dust.
Powell said that this kind of rhetoric “may appeal to the fringe elements of the party,” but won’t appeal “to all Republicans” or “the whole country.” He also suggested “it might be good for the President to have the Republicans owning one of the two bodies of our Congress, because then they have responsibility.” “You can’t just say ‘no’ to everything. You can’t just sit around beating up the President,” he added.
It’s unlikely, however, that Gingrich will take Powell’s advice and stop stirring up dust. At yesterday’s Values Voter Summit in Washington D.C., Gingrich accused HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius of “Soviet tyranny” and suggested that the Congress should pass a law “that says sharia law cannot be recognized by any court in the United States.”