- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 31, 2002

Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, far from unhappy about signs he is out of step with his Cabinet colleagues, relishes his role giving the president dissenting advice, a senior aide says.

"For some reason the press feels it is necessary every two weeks to write a story about whether I am up or whether I am down, whether I'm in or whether I'm out, and whether I'm going to resign or whether I'm going to stay forever," Mr. Powell told Asian reporters last week before leaving for Pakistan.

"But I have no intentions to resign, no plans to resign. And I wonder why they continue to write the story every two weeks."

A senior aide close to Mr. Powell said the secretary feels he plays a valuable role for the president by offering a different point of view.

"He does feel that it's important to be honest to his boss and perhaps give his boss an opinion that may be different from other opinions so that his boss can look around and pick what he feels is the best," said the Powell aide, speaking on the condition of anonymity.

Mr. Powell, a former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has taken decidedly different positions on several key issues from those championed by more hawkish members of the Bush administration, led by Vice President Richard B. Cheney, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz.

Mr. Powell favored continuing U.S. funding of $34 million next year to the U.N. Fund for Population Activities, but the Bush administration cut off the money last week, bowing to social conservatives opposed to abortion and coercive Chinese family-planning policies.

Mr. Powell also has been cautious about attacking Iraq, which he fears would provoke widespread anti-Americanism in Muslim and Third World nations as well as among European allies and Russia.

And Mr. Powell has been more critical than others in the administration of Israeli military actions against the Palestinians and of Israeli settlements in the West Bank and Gaza.

Mr. Powell also urged Mr. Bush to declare that al Qaeda and Taliban prisoners held at the U.S. Guantanamo Bay Naval Station in Cuba were entitled to prisoner of war status and rights, which was opposed by Mr. Rumsfeld.

In a compromise, the detainees were declared to be governed by the Geneva Conventions but as illegal combatants, not as prisoners of war.

But several close aides said that they have no indication Mr. Powell is upset at losing turf battles over policy or that he feels like he is "being scrutinized."

"Sometimes you win and sometimes you don't," said one aide. "But you have an obligation as an adviser to give the best advice.

"He just gives it his best shot. That's how he sees his role as an adviser to the four presidents he has served."

Larry Wortzel, director of Asian Studies at the Heritage Foundation, said that "over the years, as a military [man] and civilian, Secretary Powell has supported conservative and moderate administrations."

"He has never failed to state his own views. Institutionally, as secretary of state, he has some positions that may differ from those of the secretary of defense or head of the CIA. But he's an extremely loyal member of the administration."

Close aides to Mr. Powell say that the secretary remains true to military habits formed over three decades in the U.S. Army. After stating his point of view, he will support whatever decision is made by the administration's national security team.

"He doesn't feel smart when he wins or feel hurt when he doesn't," said the senior Powell aide.

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