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Colin Powell Unleashes Preemptive Strike
April 29, 2004
Satire by Randolph Lewis

My friends,

In the past week, a great deal of controversy has stemmed from what I said, or did not say, to the journalist Bob Woodward in preparation for his book, Plan of Attack.

Let me be frank. It is frustrating for a public figure such as myself to have his carefully chosen words turned upside-down in the national media. In the past several days, I have had to put aside the important duties of Secretary of State and devote myself entirely to clearing up misperceptions about what I said to Mr. Woodward regarding Iraq and other matters. It has been an unpleasant, but necessary, task in the service of the truth.

Unfortunately, in the past 24 hours, the twisting of my words for political gain has continued in a new context, namely, in regard to my unfinished memoir entitled The Price of Silence: My Agonizing Years in the Bush White House. Even though the memoir will not be published for another seven months (fingers crossed!), extended portions of the manuscript have already been leaked to the press, and once again I am seeing my words spun in circles for the amusement of overpaid journalists.

For this reason, I feel it is necessary for me to "preemptively strike" against journalistic distortions of what I have written. By offering the following points of clarification, I hope that American readers will know exactly where I stand on some of the most important issues of our difficult times:

• On page 443 of The Price of Silence, I describe Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld as "a two-bit Nosferatu in Armani… a serpent-tongued charlatan… a beady-eyed flying monkey in the service of short-sighted warmongers and their greasy-palmed lobbyists." Much to my chagrin, these words have been taken out of context. What I meant to describe in this passage is my outstanding working relationship with the Secretary of Defense and my great respect for his service to the current administration. That should be clear.

• On page 856, I write that, "Having been kept out of the loop during the planning for war in Iraq, I found myself deeply humiliated by a gang of bloodthirsty desk-jockeys unfit to even clean the valves on my Volvo." Once again, journalists have forsaken the truth and chosen instead to contort my words to their own sensationalist ends. In the passage above, I was simply pointing out that I was an integral part of the war planning process, and that I valued the input of the Pentagon's experts.

• On page 121, and again on pages 368 and 792, I describe the President as "a simpering fool who would need a Powerpoint presentation just to blow his nose, and whose idea of foreign policy is to wonder aloud, 'Why don't them French chicks shave their pits?'" This passage has found its way onto public via the internet, where it has been distorted in ways I could never have imagined. Naturally, I have no reason to impugn the intelligence and worldliness that this President displays as leader of the free world, and only a rank partisan could see anything but praise in what I wrote.

• One page 398, I set down some words which have caused a stir on the internet: "Over the past several months, the ever-alluring Conde Rice has once again been 'making eyes' at me during Cabinet meetings. I made it clear to her that our love had fallen from bloom and that no amount of note-passing and 'footsie' could restore the erotic vigor that it had once known at the back of Air Force One." Again to my frustration, this passage has been grossly misunderstood by members of elite national media, and by my wife. I was simply describing a normal working relationship between two dedicated professionals, nothing more or less.

I sincerely hope these clarifications will put the mind of the American public at rest. It will be a sad day, indeed, when our national leaders speak out of both sides of their mouths whenever it suits political expediency.

Randolph Lewis is an Associate Professor in the Honors College at the University of Oklahoma and a Contributing Writer to The Brooklyn Rail. He can be reached at

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