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article imagePowell maintains support of Obama, says U.S. not less safe

By Chris Dade     Feb 23, 2010 in Politics
Twice in recent days, former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell has signaled his continuing support for President Barack Obama. Powell also said he does not believe the U.S. is "much less safer" under the current administration.
Colin Powell was Secretary of State from Jan. 2001 through Jan. 2005 under the administration of George W. Bush. He was part of the administration at the time both Afghanistan and Iraq were invaded. Powell also served as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and National Security Adviser .
Speaking about the current administration, Powell has restated his support for Barack Obama.
While praising Obama for the manner in which he has handled the impact of the global economic meltdown on the U.S., Powell, 72, warned the politician he once described as “a transformational figure” not to "put too much on the plate for the American people to absorb at this time."
His latter remark came during an appearance Sunday on Face the Nation, which is shown on CBS.
Powell, generally regarded as a moderate Republican ― who may be becoming more so if his support for repealing the U.S. military's "Don't Ask Don't Tell" policy is any indication ― reinforced his advice to the President. He said Obama shouldn't try to do too much, and perhaps he should better explain what he is trying to do.
According to the Akron Beacon Journal, before delivering a speech at the University of Akron in Ohio, Powell told reporters Obama has done a ''pretty good job in stabilizing the financial system." He also said:
I'm a little concerned . . . ,that he has to be careful about biting off too much. There's an absorption rate in our society. The American people are very, very versatile and resilient, but there's a limit to how much you can put on the political scale at one time. 'So my advice to him would be to be a little cautious and keep your eyes solidly focused on our two wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, which I think he's handled rather well, and the economy.
Powell also said, "Slowly but surely we are started to see the kind of improvements the American people wanted and voted for him for." Powell then used a military analogy to describe the situation Obama faces, saying:
No great strategist and no great battle plan survives first contact with an enemy. And no great political campaign survives first contact with trying to govern in Washington, D.C
Regarding the political system in the U.S., Powell rejected the notion the system is broken but conceded that "it's in some disarray right now." Powell said certain Democrats were pursuing an agenda too far to the left and some Republicans were moving too far to the right, and stated that while bipartisanship may be "nice," the U.S. is essentially a "partisan nation."
Turning to security matters, Powell told Face the Nation moderator Bob Schieffer:
The bottom line answer is the nation is still at risk. Terrorists are out there. They're trying to get through. But to suggest that somehow we have become much less safer because of the actions of the administration, I don't think that's borne out by the facts.
Praising the hard work of counter-terrorism authorities and law enforcement officials, Powell supported the end of waterboarding and "extreme interrogation techniques." He spoke of how many of the policies on the security front were a continuation of those introduced by George W. Bush, noting:
The Transportation Security Administration created by George Bush is still in action working in our airports; they take care of me every day that I go to an airport
Reiterating his support for the closing of the Guantanamo Bay prison facility, Powell said he believes a federal trial is appropriate for Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the alleged mastermind of the 9/11 attacks in the U.S. in 2001. However, he doesn't think New York is the best location for such a trial.
On a more critical front, Powell said the manner in which U.S. authorities handled the attempted bombing of a plane preparing to land in Detroit on Dec. 25, 2009 and suspect Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab could have been executed better, as there was a lack of coordination between the relevant agencies.
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