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To the editor: It is always charitable to "look for the good in people and praise it." In the case of Colin Powell, who died Monday, his dedicated service both in military and civilian leadership are certainly worthy of our praise. However, his role in the debacle of the Iraq invasion cannot be ignored.
As a missile guidance and control engineer during the Cold War, I had a great appreciation for the technical expertise necessary to develop mobile sites that would be capable of a successful and accurate launch to predetermined targets. This expertise required years to develop with numerous failures along the way.
At the United Nations Security Council meeting on Feb. 5, 2003, Powell stated there was evidence that then-Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein was in possession of these mobile sites with the capability of launching missiles to distant targets. The George W. Bush administration left the chore of convincing the world that Hussein had such dangerous capabilities to the believable Powell, and he provided a convincing argument as to their existence.
Ultimately these so-called mobile sites turned out to be harmless trucks. Subsequently this was deemed to be an intelligence failure of the highest kind.
In the end, it must be said that Powell displayed an incredible lack of military judgment or, worse, purposely played along with the war hawks to deceive the American people and the rest of the world. Either way, his legacy is forever tainted.
Bob Constantine, Placentia
To the editor: I believe I am not the only one pondering over the course of our country had Powell won the presidency.
An honest and highly accomplished leader who valued service to our country over individual ambitions and was not afraid to own up to mistakes — is this too much to ask of our political leaders?
John T. Chiu, Newport Beach
To the editor: Why didn't Powell resign rather than support the invasion of Iraq?
That will always be a question that Powell left unanswered. Unfortunately, this man, as decent as he was, never spoke the truth about the fraud perpetrated by the George W. Bush administration.
The cooked-up intelligence justifying the loss of about 4,500 U.S. service members and the slaughter of about 200,000 Iraqi civilians is now well known. But when former President Bush delivered a speech in Pennsylvania this September marking the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, he didn't offer even a hint of repentance for leading us into this disastrous war.
Mike Rustigan, Laguna Beach
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.