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Rep. Waters Encourages the President to Listen to Former Secretary of State Powell

July 30, 2009
Press Release

U.S. Representative Maxine Waters (CA-35) today recommended that President Bush follow the advice his former Secretary of State, Colin Powell, provided on the Sunday:

"Colin Powell is a man of extraordinary experience – who served in the Army for 35 years, including four years as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.  He also served for two years as National Security Advisor.  He is one of the most respected individuals in America."

"Therefore, when Secretary Powell offers his advice, the President should listen carefully to it.  The President should have listened to Secretary Powell when he offered the ‘Pottery Barn rule' about the dangers of invading Iraq.  The rule, which states, ‘if you break it, you own it' was intended to caution the President against any rush into war.  Instead of heeding Secretary Powell's advice, the President went to war with Iraq anyway and broke Iraq and the relative stability of the Middle East."

"Unfortunately, Secretary Powell allowed himself to be used by this Administration to sell war with Iraq to the American people and to the world community.  Many people believe that it was Secretary Powell's speech to the United Nations in February 2003 – a speech he now regrets delivering – that solidified public support for the invasion of Iraq.  However, Secretary Powell's statements over the past weekend were thoughtful and balanced.  The President would be wise to accept the advice of his former chief diplomat."      

"Over the weekend, Mr. Powell said he supported many of the recommendations provided by the Baker-Hamilton Commission, officially known as the Iraq Study Group.  Among the recommendations that Secretary Powell supported was the use diplomacy, which includes discussions with Iran and Syria, to restore stability in Iraq and the Middle East.  In addition, the former Secretary urged that the President not to send additional troops to Iraq.  He suggested against doing so for several reasons including the "active [U.S.] Army is about broken" and there is no clear mission for the additional troops, should they be deployed.  Mr. Powell supports many of the principles that I and the ‘Out of Iraq' Caucus have long advocated."

"Since the Baker Commission issued its report, the President has been seeking advice from officials inside and outside of the U.S. government.  However, the President's stubbornness prevents him from accepting advice from some of the most experienced and knowledgeable individuals, in favor of the advice of those that tell him what he wants to hear.  It is long past time for the President to reject the advice of the neo-conservatives, and accept the advice of individuals like Secretary Powell.  It is time that the President develop and implement a plan to conclude our involvement in Iraq.  He must do so immediately."

Representative Maxine Waters is Chair of the 73-member ‘Out of Iraq' Congressional Caucus.  The Caucus was founded in June 2005 to pressure the Bush Administration to conclude the Iraq war as soon as possible.