Full name: Colin Luther Powell

Born April 5, 1937 in South Bronx, NY.

Former Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff under President Bush and President Clinton.

The son of Jamaican immigrants, Powell was raised in the South Bronx and went to public schools before going to City College of New York. He participated in the R.O.T.C. and became a 2nd Lieutenant upon graduation. He served two tours of duty in Vietnam, and then was a battalion commander in Korea. Powell served as Commander in Chief of Forces Command at Fort McPherson before being named as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He became a nationally known figure during the Gulf War fiasco. Powell retired from the U.S. Army in 1993 and now spends time denying that he will run for President.

update: named Secretary of State by Shrub.

Following George W. Bush's controversial election as 43rd U.S. President, the first official cabinet appointment Bush made was nominating Colin Powell to be Secretary of State. This makes Powell the first African-American to hold this office, and the highest ranking (former) military officer since George Marshall.

I went to see Colin Powell speak at the University of Texas in the Fall of 2000. After his speech, which exceeded my expectations, he took questions from the audience. I was surprised when this question got through (paraphrased, of course):

You are a member of the AOL board of directors. Isn't it a conflict of interest that your son sits on the same FCC board that is to decide whether to approve the multi-billion dollar AOL Time Warner merger that, if approved, will increase your net worth by many millions of dollars in stock that the same son stands to inherit?

He didn't deny any of it, and continued to explain why it was not a conflict of interest and that his son should not recuse himself. I can't seem to recall the reason for this because it was so outrageous, but I think it had something to do with his son's good judgement.

That's all I have to say about Colin Powell.

Colin Powell has the dubious distinction of being the first investigating officer to look into the murder and torture of Vietnamese civilians following the My Lai massacre. Powell whitewashed the charges that Vietnamese citizens were being killed without provocation by American soldiers.

At the time a Major, Colin Powell was Deputy Assistant Chief of Staff for Operations at the Americal Division headquarters. Rumors of the My Lai massacre did not prompt an investigation, but when a soldier finally wrote a letter to General Creighton Abrams complaining about the routine murder and torture of civilians, the army brass tasked Powell to investigate and draft a response.

Powell's draft said the soldier's charges were false, except, possibly, for "isolated instances"; abuses were not tolerated, but punished. Said Powell, "In direct refutation of this portrayal is the fact that relations between Americal soldiers and the Vietnamese people are excellent." Powell never asked for information from the soldier who had written the letter.

A few months later, the atrocities of the Americal Division would come to light after congressional pressure broke through the military's stonewalling, but the first investigating officer - who denied any atrocities took place - went on to become an army General and advisor to presidents.

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