Powell: Cheney "overshot the runway" in book
Updated: 12:49 p.m. ET
Former Secretary of State Colin Powell said Sunday that former Vice President Dick Cheney took "cheap shots" in his forthcoming memoir, and that he was taking his aggressive promotional techniques "a bit too far."
Powell, speaking on CBS' "Face the Nation," targeted Cheney's claim that the book, "In My Time," would "make heads explode."
"My head isn't exploding, I haven't noticed any other heads exploding in Washington, D.C.," Powell pointed out. "From what I've read in the newspapers and seen on television it's essentially a rehash of events of seven or eight years ago."
In fact, Powell suggested, the most notable thing about the book was Mr. Cheney's characterization of it.
"What really sort of got my attention was this way in which he characterized it: it's going to cause heads to explode," he said. "That's quite a visual. And in fact, it's the kind of headline I would expect to come out of a gossip columnist, or the kind of headline you might see one of the supermarket tabloids write. It's not the kind of headline I would have expected to come from a former Vice President of the United States of America."
He added: "I think Dick overshot the runway."
Powell also took issue with Cheney's claim that, during his tenure as Secretary of State, he declined to fully present his positions to former President George W. Bush.
"Mr. Cheney may forget that I'm the one who said to President Bush, 'If you break it you own it,'" Powell said, referencing the administration's actions in Iraq. "I gave the president my best advice."
Powell, who resigned shortly after Mr. Bush was re-elected to his second term as president, noted that the former vice president also took "condescending" shots at his successor as Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, in his upcoming memoir.
"He's taken the same shots at Condi, with an almost condescending tone," Powell said, noting references in the book in which Rice was described as doing things "tearfully."
Powell implied that Cheney's characterizations in the book are a reflection of what was at the time a dysfunctional White House.
"I'm not going to attribute any emotion to Mr. Cheney in the writing of his book, but it was clear in 2004 that the team wasn't functioning as a team," Powell said. "It was not a smoothly functioning team at that point. ... I felt that I had to leave the administration. And frankly, I always intended to just serve one term."
Powell said Cheney tried to blame himself and former State Department official Richard Armitage for the "Valerie Plame affair" -- in which the identify of former CIA operative Valerie Plame was revealed to journalist Robert Novak and published in the Washington Post. "
Powell argued, however, that Cheney could have saved the administration a lengthy investigation into the matter had he been more forthcoming with the FBI.
"The fact of the matter is when Mr. Armitage realized that he was the source for Bob Novak's column that caused all the difficulty and he called me immediately, two days after the president launched the investigation, and what we did was we called the Justice Department, they sent over the FBI, the FBI had all the information about Mr. Armitage's participation in this immediately," Powell said. "We called Al Gonzalez, the president's counsel, and told him that we had information. The FBI asked us not to share any of this with anyone else, as did Mr. Gonzalez. And so if the White House operatives had come forward as readily as Mr. Armitage had done then we wouldn't have gone on for two more months with the FBI trying to find out what happened in the White House, we wouldn't have had a special counsel appointed by the Justice Department who spent two years trying to get to the bottom of it."
"If the White House and the operatives in the White House - on Mr. Cheney's staff and elsewhere in the White House - had been as forthcoming with the FBI as Mr. Armitage was, this problem would not have reached the dimensions that it reached," he added.
Powell continued: "Mr. Cheney is free to say what he wishes, but so far I haven't seen anything in it that is as explosive as he claims it is, and I don't see any heads laying on the street."
- Lucy Madison
Lucy Madison is a political reporter for CBSNews.com.Follow on Twitter »
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