SINCE GENERAL COLIN L POWELL resigned as Secretary of State after George Bush was re-elected, he hasn't exactly faded into obscurity.
He has visited survivors of Hurricane Katrina at Reunion Arena in Dallas and criticized the delay in the relief effort.
He also has honestly aired some of the demons that haunt him.
Speaking to Barbara Walters on ABC, he said that his 2003 speech to the United Nations, in which he gave a detailed description of Iraqi weapons programs that turned out to be non-existent, was a “blot” on his record.
“I'm the one who presented it to the world, and (it) will always be a part of my record,” Powell said. “It was painful. It is painful now. The intelligence system did not work well. There were some people in the intelligence community who knew at the time that some of those sources were not good, and shouldn't be relied upon, and they didn't speak up. That devastated me.”
And now he's headed for the NTEA Convention, where he'll give the Keynote Address at the President's Breakfast on Thursday, March 2.
Powell became the first African-American Secretary of State in US history on Jan. 20, 2001. Before that, he served as a key aide to the Secretary of Defense and as National Security Advisor to President Reagan.
According to the Washington Speakers Bureau, Powell believed the guiding principle of US foreign policy during his tenure was that “America stands ready to help any country that wishes to join the democratic world.”
He also served 35 years in the United States Army, rising to the rank of Four-Star General and serving as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from 1989-1993. During this time, he oversaw 28 crises, including the Panama intervention of 1989, and Operation Desert Storm in the victorious 1991 Persian Gulf War.
That experience served him well, both before and particularly after the events of September 11, 2001 — the day of the greatest tragedy on American soil since Pearl Harbor. He stood shoulder to shoulder with the President and the other members of the Cabinet in fighting the war on terrorism. As he often said, “Winning that war is our first priority, and it will remain so for as long as necessary.”
A passionate purveyor of democratic values, he stressed that fighting the war on terrorism is not just a military task, but also a diplomatic task. He led the State Department in major efforts to solve regional and civil conflicts — in the Middle East, between Israel and its Arab neighbors; in Sudan, Congo and Liberia; in the Balkans, Cyprus, Haiti, Northern Ireland and elsewhere.
He was especially concerned with the peace and security of Afghanistan and Iraq, countries where winning the peace is as important as Coalition battlefield victories. In all areas, he used the power of diplomacy and the universal ideal of democracy to build trust, forge alliances, and then begin to transform these once-unstable regions into areas where societies and cultures prosper.
He was devoted to grasping opportunities as well as to confronting the global and regional security challenges of the 21st century. He was at the forefront of the administration's efforts to advance economic and social development worldwide — in the fight against HIV/AIDS, in the promise of the Millennium Challenge Account — the most significant change in helping needy nations since the Marshall Plan — and in pursuing a freer trading and investment climate worldwide.
In testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, he affirmed that our main purpose is to extend democracy, prosperity, and freedom to every corner of the world. It is a process that is establishing a balance of power that favors freedom across the globe.
Born in New York City on April 5, 1937, Powell was raised in the South Bronx. His parents, Luther and Maud Powell, immigrated to the United States from Jamaica. He was educated in the New York City public schools, graduating from Morris High School and the City College of New York (CCNY), where he earned a bachelor's degree in geology. He also participated in ROTC at CCNY and received a commission as an Army second lieutenant upon graduation in June 1958. His further academic achievements include a Master's of Business Administration from George Washington University.
He is the recipient of numerous US military awards and decorations including the Defense Distinguished Service Medal (with 3 Oak Leaf Clusters), the Army Distinguished Service Medal (with Oak Leaf Cluster), Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit (with Oak Leaf Cluster), Soldier's Medal, Bronze Star Medal, and the Purple Heart.
His civilian awards include two Presidential Medals of Freedom, the President's Citizens Medal, the Congressional Gold Medal, and the Secretary of Energy Distinguished Service Medal. He has received awards from over two dozen countries, including a French Legion of Honor and an honorary knighthood bestowed by Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain.
He was the founding chairman of America's Promise-The Alliance for Youth, a national crusade to improve the lives of our nation's youth. Established at the Presidents' Summit for America's Future in Philadelphia in April 1997, and endorsed by every living US President, America's Promise aims to ensure all children in America have access to the fundamental resources needed to build and strengthen them to become responsible, productive adults.
He has also been a member of the Board of Trustees of Howard University and the Board of Directors of the United Negro College Fund, served on the Board of Governors of The Boys & Girls Clubs of America, and was a member of the Advisory Board of the Children's Health Fund.
General Powell is the author of a best-selling autobiography, My American Journey.
He is married to the former Alma Vivian Johnson of Birmingham, Alabama. The Powell family includes son Michael; daughters, Linda and Annemarie; son-in-law Francis; daughter-in-law Jane; and grandsons Jeffrey and Bryan.
NAME: Colin Luther Powell.
BIRTH DATE: April 5, 1937.
EDUCATION: Bachelor's of science in geology, City College of New York, 1958; master's in business administration, George Washington University, 1971.
EXPERIENCE: Secretary of State, 2001-2004; founder and chairman, America's Promise, a nonprofit organization for youth; 12th chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Oct. 1, 1989-Sept. 30, 1993, under the George H W Bush and Clinton administrations; national security adviser to President Reagan, 1987-89; served in the Army for 35 years in command and staff positions.
AWARDS: Military awards include Defense Distinguished Service Medal, Army Distinguished Service Medal, Defense Superior Service Medal, Bronze Star Medal, and the Purple Heart.
Civilian awards include two Presidential Medals of Freedom, the President's Citizens Medal, the Congressional Gold Medal, the Secretary of State Distinguished Service Medal.
FAMILY: Wife, Alma; three children, Michael, Linda and Anne.