“Courage and Consequence: My Life as a Conservative in the Fight” (2010)
Before his February 2003 presentation to the U.N. outlining the case for going to war with Iraq, Colin Powell spent the better part of a week at the CIA with Tenet, [John] McLaughlin, and Robert Walpole, the national intelligence officer for strategic programs. Powell carefully reviewed the intelligence and challenged each of the agency’s findings in often-contentious meetings. Questions would be raised later, such as in a lengthy Washington
Post Magazine article in 2006, about whether Powell felt he was forced into making the presentation to the U.N. and whether he believed the case against Iraq was strong enough. But Powell’s chief of staff and caustic critic of the Bush White House, retired Army Colonel Larry Wilkerson, later admitted that the meetings at the CIA had tipped the scales for the secretary of state. “It is safe to say that he [Powell] changed his mind. He was convinced by what the agency and members of the IC [intelligence community] were able to present to him,” Wilkerson said.