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Iraq War 10 Years Later: Where Are They Now? Colin Powell

Jessica Lynch. Tommy Franks.  'Chemical Ali.' Tony Blair. Hans Blix. Ten years ago, as the war in Iraq began, these were names on front pages everywhere. Find out what has happened to them – and 10 other headliners associated with the conflict – since.

Elise Amendola/AP file

U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell holds up a vial that he said could contain anthrax as he presents evidence of Iraq's alleged weapons programs to the United Nations Security Council on Feb. 5, 2003.

During the lead-up to the Iraq invasion, Secretary of State Colin Powell, who as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff had masterminded the U.S. role in the 1991 Iraq war, found himself with the difficult job of presenting the Bush administration’s position that Saddam’s Hussein’s regime must be removed by force to the rest of the world. 

 This was made even more irksome by Powell’s differences with White House hawks, with whom he had clashed repeatedly over Iraq policy. Powell initially was opposed to a forcible overthrow of Hussein, preferring to continue a policy of containment; however, he eventually agreed to go along with the determination to remove Hussein, the main concession being that the international community be rallied behind the invasion. Successful in persuading President Bush of this course, Powell then had to take the case to the United Nations.

However, most nations refused to be persuaded and after several weeks of argument, the U.S. dropped its efforts on March 17 and decided to go it alone with a few allies. 

Mario Anzuoni/Reuters file

Former Secretary of State Colin Powell accepts the President's Award at the 42nd Annual NAACP Image Awards at the Shrine auditorium in Los Angeles on March 4, 2011.

Powell stayed as secretary of state until the end of President Bush’s first term, before resigning in December 2004.

In September 2005, during an interview with Barbara Walters, he acknowledged that his assertions about Iraq’s WMD capabilities were a “blot” on his record, adding that it was “painful.” 

Since leaving the government, Powell has assumed a number of private-sector positions, including membership of several corporate boards. In July, 2005, he became a strategic limited partner with Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, a Silicon Valley venture capital firm and has become more active at The Colin Powell Center for Policy Studies at his alma mater, the City College of New York. In May, 2006, he succeeded Henry Kissinger to become the 8th Chairman of the Eisenhower Fellowship Program, which brings together current and emerging leaders from around the world. 

More recently, he joined the board of directors of AOL founder Steve Case's new company Revolution Health. Powell also serves on the Council on Foreign Relations board of directors and in 2008 served as a spokesperson for National Mentoring Month, a campaign held each January to recruit volunteer mentors for at-risk youth.

Later in 2008, he endorsed presidential candidate Barack Obama and was mentioned as a possible member of Obama’s administration, a move that did not occur.

Powell, who is married to the former Alma Vivian Johnson of Birmingham, Ala., lives in McLean, Va., a suburb of Washington, D.C. He is a fan of vintage Volvo cars, which he restores as a hobby.