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February 12, 2004
Powell: "You Don't Know What You're Talking About"

The normally even-tempered Secretary of State, Colin Powell, became angry at a Congressional hearing and scolded a Congressman and a staffer:

Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, a retired four-star general known for his even temperament, paused yesterday during a congressional hearing to berate a Hill staffer for shaking his head as Powell offered a defense of his prewar statements on Iraq's alleged weapons of mass destruction.

The public scolding came after Powell had already endured a number of attacks by Democrats on the administration's Iraq policy during an appearance before the House International Relations Committee. He had just snapped at a member of Congress who had casually declared President Bush "AWOL" from the Vietnam War.

The staffer, who sat behind the panel members, was shaking his head at Powell's testimony, a rude gesture by any stretch of the imagination, and after grinding his teeth throughout the angry and accusatory interrogation from the panel's Democrats, Powell wasn't about to sit there and have some staffer mocking him from behind the skirts of the Congressment at the hearing.

Powell was recalling for the panel his review of the prewar intelligence. "I went and lived at the CIA for about four days to make sure that nothing was," he began, when he paused and glared at a staffer seated behind the members of Congress.

"Are you shaking your head for something, young man, back there?" Powell asked. "Are you part of these proceedings?"

Earlier, when Rep. Sherrod Brown contended that President Bush had been AWOL during the Vietnam War -- apparently, Brown drinks Terry McAuliffe's Kool-Aid on a regular basis -- Powell snapped and berated the Congressman:

First of all, Mr. Brown, I won't dignify your comments about the president because you don't know what you are talking about," Powell snapped.

"I'm sorry, I don't know what you mean, Mr. Secretary," Brown replied.

"You made reference to the president," Powell said.

"I say he may have been AWOL," Brown repeated.

"Mr. Brown, let's not go there," Powell retorted. "Let's not go there in this hearing. If you want to have a political fight on this matter, that is very controversial, and I think is being dealt with by the White House, fine. But let's not go there."

Good for Powell, and shame on Sherrod Brown for dragging this vile trope into a hearing on international relations, for crying out loud. If the Democrats want to make all Congressional hearings into International ANSWER and forums, they'd better start getting used to being brought up short by the adults in the administration.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at February 12, 2004 5:54 AM

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