Former Secretary of State Colin Powell dies from Covid complications
Category: News & PoliticsVia: perrie-halpern • one month ago • 36 comments
By: Rebecca Shabad
WASHINGTON — Colin Powell, the retired four-star general who became the country's first Black secretary of state and its first chairman of the Joints Chiefs of Staff, died Monday due to complications from Covid-19, his family said in a statement on Facebook.
Powell, 84, was fully vaccinated from Covid-19, his family said, and had been treated at Walter Reed National Medical Center.
Colin Powell dies of complications from COVID-19
"We have lost a remarkable and loving husband, father, grandfather and a great American," the family said.
Powell had multiple myeloma, a cancer of a type of white blood cell. It's unclear what complications he experienced from Covid-19 or when he tested positive for the disease. The family also did not say when he was vaccinated or if he had received a booster shot.
Powell became the first Black secretary of state under President George W. Bush. As the nation's chief diplomat, Powell delivered a well-known speech to the United Nations Security Council in February 2003 laying out the White House argument for invading Iraq and stating that there was intelligence that the country had weapons of mass destruction. U.S. troops launched an invasion the following month. The evidence he presented about Iraq having biological weapons was later proven to be incorrect. Powell left the administration shortly after Bush's re-election in 2004.
Bush said in a statement Monday that he and former first lady Laura Bush were "deeply saddened" by Powell's death.
"He was a great public servant, starting with his time as a soldier during Vietnam," Bush said. "Many presidents relied on General Powell's counsel and experience. He was such a favorite of presidents that he earned the Presidential Medal of Freedom — twice. He was highly respected at home and abroad. And most important, Colin was a family man and a friend."
Bush added that he and his wife sent Powell's widow, Alma, and their three children "our sincere condolences as they remember the life of a great man."
Secretary of State Colin Powell holds up a vial he said could contain anthrax as he presents evidence of Iraq's alleged weapons programs to the United Nations Security Council on Feb. 5, 2003.Elise Amendola / AP file
After rising through the military ranks, Powell became a four-star general and then chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under President George H.W. Bush. He had served as U.S. national security adviser and deputy national security adviser for President Ronald Reagan in the 1980s. Powell served twice in Vietnam — during the first tour, he was wounded in action and on the second tour, he received the Soldier's Medal for rescuing several men from a burning helicopter.
In a statement Monday, former Vice President Dick Cheney called himself "fortunate" to work with Powell, and said during both wars with Iraq he saw Powell's "dedication to the United States and his commitment to the brave and selfless men and women who serve our country in uniform."
"Colin was a trailblazer and role model for so many," Cheney said, adding, "His legacy and unparalleled record of service will never be forgotten."
Looking back at Colin Powell's life and career
Robert Gates, who became Bush's defense secretary after Powell left the administration, said Monday that with Powell's passing, "America has lost a great patriot and public servant."
"A friend for nearly 40 years, Colin's whole life was about duty, honor and country. He is gone far too soon," Gates said.
Current Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin praised Powell's life of national service and counsel in brief remarks to reporters Monday morning.
"The world lost one of the greatest leaders that we have ever witnessed," Austin said. "Alma lost a great husband, and the family lost a tremendous father, and I lost a tremendous personal friend and mentor. He has been my mentor for a number of years. He always made time for me and I could always go to him with tough issues. He always had great counsel. We will certainly miss him. I feel as if I have a hole in my heart just learning of this."
Colin Powell in the Rose Garden at the White House in 1989.Cynthia Johnson / Getty Images file
Despite serving Republican presidents, Powell said days after the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol that he could no longer call himself a Republican.
"I'm not a fellow of anything right now," he said in an interview on CNN. "I'm just a citizen who has voted Republican, voted Democrat throughout my entire career. And right now I'm just watching my country and not concerned with parties."
Powell broke with his party on several occasions in recent years, including when he endorsed Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., for president in 2008 over then-Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. Powell endorsed Obama again in 2012 over the GOP's nominee that year, Mitt Romney, and later became a vocal critic of President Donald Trump.
In 2016, it was revealed in leaked emails that Powell called the then-GOP presidential candidate a "national disgrace." In June 2020, Powell and other retired military leaders blasted Trump for threatening to use military force against protesters. Powell said in an interview on CNN that Trump had turned away from the Constitution and that he was a habitual liar.
Watch Colin Powell's full speech at the 2020 DNC
"We have a Constitution. We have to follow that Constitution. And the president's drifted away from it," said Powell, who made clear that, like in 2016, he would not vote for Trump for president and instead planned to vote for Joe Biden.
Powell was born in 1937 in Harlem, New York, to immigrants from Jamaica and grew up in the South Bronx, going on to get a bachelor's degree from the City College of New York.
He is survived by his wife, Alma Powell, 83, and their three children.
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