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Rice Replaces Powell at State Department; Paige Also Quits

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Washington (NNPA)

By Hazel Trice Edney
NNPA Washington Correspondent

Secretary of State Colin Powell announced his resignation on Monday and Condoleezza Rice, the president’s national security advisor, was nominated on Tuesday to succeed him.

Rice is considered more of a hardliner in foreign policy than Powell and was frequently aligned with Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld in internal struggles. Powell, the administration’s most prominent moderate, often found himself on the losing end of many of those White House debates. Rice is expected to be confirmed by the U.S. Senate, making her the second African-American and the first Black woman to serve in that post.

Powell's announced resignation was greeted by African-Americans with a mixture of praise and condemnation.

“As secretary of state he carried out a bad policy by a president who has not cared about the sentiments of the rest of the world. In my view, that was not successful,” says Clifford Alexander, former secretary of Army in the Carter administration. “We should not forget that he went before the U.N. and said we were going to war because of weapons of mass destruction. There hasn’t been one found yet. Not even a firecracker. In my view, that’s not what I would have hoped for.”

Others expressed a decidedly different point-of-view.

“His intelligence, insight and commitment will be surely missed by our nation,” says Hilary Shelton, director of the Washington Bureau of the NAACP. “His stance on affirmative action showed his courage and indeed he was not just someone to go along to get along.”

Powell, 67, was a soldier for 35 years, rising to the rank of four-star Army general and becoming the 12th chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under the administration of George Herbert Walker Bush. He was once considered the most likely hope for America’s first Black president.

However, Powell’s national reputation was tarnished when he appeared before the United Nations General Assembly on Feb. 5, 2003 to argue the United States’ case for invading Iraq. Relying on faulty U.S. intelligence reports, Powell asserted that Iraq had amassed weapons of mass destruction and was developing a nuclear weapons program. In the aftermath of the invasion, no weapons of mass destruction were ever discovered.

Powell announced his resignation on Monday, effective with the confirmation of his successor. His one-page statement, issued by the White House, lauded the president.

''I am pleased to have been part of a team that launched the Global War Against Terror, liberated the Afghan and Iraqi people, brought the attention of the world to the problem of proliferation, reaffirmed our alliances, adjusted to the Post-Cold War World and undertook major initiatives to deal with the problem of poverty and disease in the developing world,'' he stated.

Powell later said at a Pentagon press briefing that he had never intended to serve more than one term. However, there were some published reports that Powell was nudged out..

The shake-up in the Bush cabinet since he won re-election on Nov. 2 has also included the resignations of another African-American, Education Secretary Roderick Paige, Agriculture Secretary Ann M. Veneman, Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham, and Commerce Secretary Donald L. Evans. Attorney General John Ashcroft is also resigning.

Secretary Paige opposes affirmative action, Rice has come down on both sides of the issue at various times and Powell remains a steadfast supporter of affirmative action, publicly disagreeing with President Bush on a pair of University of Michigan cases that reached the U.S. Supreme Court..

BVN National News Wire