Former State Department Analyst Powell

Former State Department Analyst: Powell Exaggerated at UN

Greg Thielman, a former State Department weapons analyst says that he watched Colin Powell’s performance at the UN in February with dismay, aware that the US Secretary of State was grossly overstating the threat from Saddam. Thielman called it the “low point” of Powell’s career. A UN weapons inspector, Steve Allinson of the UK, agreed. He says that the weapons inspectors were laughing out loud during Powell’s speech. They said to one another “He’s got nothing.”

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This is what Informed Comment said about it in Feb. 2003:

If I were Saddam Hussein, I would not give weapons of mass destruction (or any weapons at all) to someone who spoke about me the way Bin Laden did: “Socialists are infidels wherever they are, whether they are in Baghdad or Aden.” I think Bin Laden has made it clear what should be done to infidel regimes. I fear in his use of this tape to tie Iraq to al-Qaeda, Secretary Powell has hit the low point of his public career . . .

A UN official told me he had never seen someone humiliated as badly at the UN as Colin Powell was today by the comments in the Security Council. The French essentially accused him of not being truthful in his attempts to tie Saddam Hussein to al-Qaeda. (I am afraid the French are right about this one.) Everyone but the British wanted to give the inspectors more time. This individual thought that the meeting ended the prospects of a war on Iraq any time soon. I told him I disagreed. I very much doubt that Donald Rumseld cares what the Security Council thinks, and if he wants to go to war, he will. Hint: The World Bank, a UN institution, is refusing to send any representatives to Pakistan between now and early March for fear an Iraq war may break out in that period. Do they know something we don’t? A recent poll showed that most Americans want Bush to give the inspectors more time.

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