Powell and Rice: Bush's Charming Diplomats
President Bush's secretaries of State have a good deal of charm.
LIANE HANSEN, host:
NPR senior news analyst, Daniel Schorr.
SCHORR: But as Colin Powell and now Condoleezza Rice discovered, charm doesn't help much when you're in a dispute with the president's inner circle. In a march to war, they walked all over Colin Powell and saddled him with the ultimate humiliation of having to read to the UN Security Council a mendacious speech about Saddam Hussein's alleged weapons of mass destruction.
On the eve of war, according to Hendrik Hertzberg in The New Yorker, a foreign diplomat told Powell at a social event that he heard that Mr. Bush was sleeping like a baby. The secretary replied, `I'm sleeping like a baby, too. Every two hours I wake up screaming.'
And so, few were surprised when, after Mr. Bush's re-election, Powell resigned and characteristic of camaraderie in the White House, a source said that no one had asked him to stay. So now, Condoleezza Rice, jetting around the world, putting out fires, some of which others in the administration have helped to fuel, the most vexing of the fires, which set the chancellories of Europe ablaze, came from the impression that the Bush administration was not categorical enough about forbidding cruel and inhumane techniques in interrogating terrorist suspects. That issue dogged the secretary's footsteps from Berlin to Kiev and into Brussels, and her job wasn't made easier by the way that the White House sometimes undercut her assurances to foreign ministers.
White House spokesman Scott McClellan, on whose instructions I do not know, defended the practice of rendition; that is, secretly moving suspects to other countries as a vital tool in the war against terror. And that led foreign ministers and American reporters to ask, `Who speaks for the president?' The visiting Austrian chancellor, Wolfgang Schuessel, after a meeting in the Oval Office, said, `I'm quite happy that Condoleezza Rice went to Europe. She took the heat.' She did, indeed, just as Colin Powell did before her.
This is Daniel Schorr.
HANSEN: It's 18 minutes past the hour.
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