CNN's Morgan Asks Powell If He Felt 'Used' on Iraq, Compares to Libya War
As he interviewed former Secretary of State Colin Powell on Thursday's Piers Morgan Tonight, CNN host Piers Morgan seemed to suggest that the war against Muammar Gadhafi's regime in Libya was perhaps better run than the war in Iraq, and went on to ask Powell if he felt "used" when he presented to the United Nations the Bush administration's case for invading Iraq.
After asking Powell did he "admire" President Obama's "audacity" in ordering the raid that killed Osama bin Laden, he followed up with his suggestion that the war in Libya was better run than the Iraq War:
As somebody who was seen to be one of the more skeptic members of George Bush's inner team when it came to decision-making in Iraq in particular, when you see what happened in Libya, when you see the back seat that America took, particularly with troops on the ground nonexistent, when you see that there was no loss of life for American servicemen compared to the four and a half thousand or so that lost their lives in Iraq,what do you feel about the overall picture, the strategy that was adopted to get rid of Saddam in contrast to the strategy adopted to get rid of Gadhafi? The huge difference in cost not just to human life but financially to America?
After Powell argued that the situations were different, the CNN asked: "When you ever see footage of you selling that war with the intelligence, the famous footage, what do you feel? I mean, do you feel that you were in some way used?"
Below is a transcript of the relevant portion of the Thursday, November 10, Piers Morgan Tonight on CNN:
PIERS MORGAN: On the tick box of his score sheet, some stunning successes in terms of foreign policy many would argue getting bin Laden. I mean, for you personally, you were at the start of that mission. Where were you when you heard that bin laden had been killed?
COLIN POWELL, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: I was in my home, and I heard the news, and I was absolutely delighted. This terrible person, and it was a marvelous military operation with possibility of something going really bad-
MORGAN: Very audacious.
POWELL: It's very bold. But those are the kinds of young men and women we have. These folks are good. They are really, really good.
MORGAN: Did you admire the President for the shear audacity of the decision-making of that?
POWELL: Yes, you have to. I mean, he could have decided to go about it a different way but he took the bold action. But that was fine then. But a week later everyone wanted to talk about the unemployment problem again. And so we've seen a lot of these evil people sent off to the hereafter in recent weeks, and that's good. And the President should get credit for it. But not just because he's the commander in chief, but, you know, which is part of it, but we have to give credit to the intelligence and military and other agencies of our government that created the conditions that allow you to go after these people.
MORGAN: As somebody who was seen to be one of the more skeptic members of George Bush's inner team when it came to decision-making in Iraq in particular, when you see what happened in Libya, when you see the back seat that America took, particularly with troops on the ground nonexistent, when you see that there was no loss of life for American servicemen compared to the four and a half thousand or so that lost their lives in Iraq, what do you feel about the overall picture, the strategy that was adopted to get rid of Saddam in contrast to the strategy adopted to get rid of Gadhafi? The huge difference in cost not just to human life but financially to America?
POWELL: I don't think the two can be that easily compared. We had a government in Iraq that was every bit as bad as the government in Libya. I remember so many western leaders and the United States were working with Mr. Gadhafi. And Libya did not have the kind of army or military force that Saddam Hussein had access to, and you didn't have that kind of leadership coming from the Europeans in Iraq that we had in Libya.
But setting it aside, the President felt, President Bush felt that we tried to use the U.N., we did not get satisfactionwith respect to Mr. Hussein's weapons of mass destruction programs. Our intelligence had it wrong, and I - more than anyone - presented that intelligence to the United States people and the American people and to the world. But it was wrong. But nevertheless, we went in and got rid of a person who would have gone back to developing these weapons of mass destruction in my humble judgment if he had been released from U.N. sanctions. I was hoping that the U.N. would work.
I persuaded the President to go to the U.N., see if we can resolve it that way because I thought if we can avoid this war and satisfy our problem with weapons of mass destruction, we should do that. But he had to make the decision, along with Mr. Blair and other western leaders. And so we went in, and we took out the regime.
My big disappointment - I fully supported that - my big disappointment is that I don't think we did it as efficiently as we could have. We shouldn't have disbanded the Iraqi army, we shouldn't have de-Baathified the entire country and school teachers. We should have put a lot more force in there so that we could have taken control of the country at the very beginning, which is what I think the Iraqi people expected us to do. And we didn't. And an insurgency broke out, and we failed to respond to it as quickly as we might.
MORGAN: When you ever see footage of you selling that war with the intelligence, the famous footage, what do you feel? I mean, do you feel that you were in some way used?
POWELL: No, I had the same information, the same intelligence material that was given to the United States Congress. The Congress voted overwhelmingly to use military force if it came to that, and they did that three months before my presentation. Everything that was in that presentation of mine was international intelligence estimate that the President had used in the State of the Union and earlier speeches that Secretary Rumsfeld was using, our generals were using. They were planning against this intelligence. And we thought it was solid, even though it was very inferential, we thought it was good intelligence.
MORGAN: When you realized-
POWELL: When I realized that a large part of it - not all of it, but a considerable part of it - was wrong and we should have known it was wrong, I felt terrible. I felt disappointed. It was wrong. That is the summation of it. It was wrong.
-Brad Wilmouth is a news analyst at the Media Research Center