Colin Powell

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Colin Powell : biography

April 5, 1937 –

Life after diplomatic service

After retiring from the role of Secretary of State, Powell returned to private life. In April 2005, he was privately telephoned by Republican senators Lincoln Chafee and Chuck Hagel, at which time Powell expressed reservations and mixed reviews about the nomination of John R. Bolton as ambassador to the United Nations, but refrained from advising the senators to oppose Bolton (Powell had clashed with Bolton during Bush’s first term). The decision was viewed as potentially dealing significant damage to Bolton’s chances of confirmation. Bolton was put into the position via a recess appointment because of the strong opposition in the Senate.

On April 28, 2005, an opinion piece in The Guardian by Sidney Blumenthal (a former top aide to President Bill Clinton) claimed that Powell was in fact "conducting a campaign" against Bolton because of the acrimonious battles they had had while working together, which among other things had resulted in Powell cutting Bolton out of talks with Iran and Libya after complaints about Bolton’s involvement from the British. Blumenthal added that "The foreign relations committee has discovered that Bolton made a highly unusual request and gained access to 10 intercepts by the National Security Agency. Staff members on the committee believe that Bolton was probably spying on Powell, his senior advisors and other officials reporting to him on diplomatic initiatives that Bolton opposed."

In July 2005, Powell joined Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield & Byers, a well-known Silicon Valley venture capital firm, with the title of "strategic limited partner."

In September 2005, Powell criticized the response to Hurricane Katrina. Powell said that thousands of people were not properly protected, but because they were poor rather than because they were black. On January 5, 2006, he participated in a meeting at the White House of former Secretaries of Defense and State to discuss United States foreign policy with Bush administration officials. In September 2006, Powell sided with more moderate Senate Republicans in supporting more rights for detainees and opposing President Bush’s terrorism bill. He backed Senators John Warner, John McCain and Lindsey Graham in their statement that U.S. military and intelligence personnel in future wars will suffer for abuses committed in 2006 by the U.S. in the name of fighting terrorism. Powell stated that "The world is beginning to doubt the moral basis of [America’s] fight against terrorism."

Also in 2006, Powell began appearing as a speaker at a series of motivational events called Get Motivated, along with former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani. In his speeches for the tour, he openly criticized the Bush Administration on a number of issues. Powell has been the recipient of mild criticism for his role with Get Motivated which has been called a "get-rich-quick-without-much-effort, feel-good schemology."

Most recently he joined the Board of Directors of Steve Case’s new company Revolution Health. Powell also serves on the Council on Foreign Relations Board of directors.

Powell, in honor of Martin Luther King Day, dropped the ceremonial first puck at a New York Islanders hockey game at Nassau Coliseum on January 21, 2008. On November 11, 2008, Powell again dropped the puck in recognition of Military Appreciation Day and Veterans Day.

Recently, Powell has encouraged young people to continue to use new technologies to their advantage in the future. In a speech at the Center for Strategic and International Studies to a room of young professionals, he said, "That’s your generation…a generation that is hard-wired digital, a generation that understands the power of the information revolution and how it is transforming the world. A generation that you represent, and you’re coming together to share; to debate; to decide; to connect with each other." At this event, he encouraged the next generation to involve themselves politically on the upcoming Next America Project, which uses online debate to provide policy recommendations for the upcoming administration.