On Oct. 29, former Secretary of State Colin Powell will be speaking at Carnegie Music Hall. I won't be going and it is not because tickets are $25 to $65. On Feb. 5, 2003, Mr. Powell gave a speech to the United Nations justifying the coming American invasion of Iraq. He repeatedly claimed to be presenting only the facts backed by solid sources. As history has shown, nearly everything he said was false.
The highest officials of the Bush administration, once out of office, rushed to make their book deals. In their versions of the story, someone else was always to blame. Mr. Powell said it was the CIA. The CIA blamed the White House. The White House said it used what the intelligence community provided. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld asserted it was all just a mistake and that Mr. Powell should have known better. Vice President Dick Cheney claimed much of it was true.
Mr. Powell spent four days and nights at the CIA preparing the speech. If a secretary of state wants to give a speech he does not have to leave his building to prepare. If he wants to deceive the nation and the world, it is better to rehearse his act elsewhere. He has said the speech is a stain on his career, as if hundreds of thousands of dead Iraqi civilians are less important than his reputation. Mr. Powell has made himself richer than any former military officer I can think of by always telling the boss what he wanted to hear. He will no doubt collect $100,000 or more for his little talk. While he won't miss it, I'm not going to contribute.
The writer, a former U.S. ambassador who served 28 years in the Foreign Service, is a professor of international affairs at Penn State University.
First Published October 15, 2013 8:00 PM