Gen. Colin Powell, former U.S. secretary of state and military leader, has died at the age of 84, his family says.
According to a Facebook post made on his official page, Powell’s family said the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff died Monday morning due to complications from COVID-19.
“General Colin L. Powell, former U.S. Secretary of State and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, passed away this morning due to complications from COVID-19. He was fully vaccinated,” the post reads.
“We want to thank the medical staff at Walter Reed National Medical Center for their caring treatment. We have lost a remarkable and loving husband, father, grandfather and a great American.”
The statement did not mention when he fell ill or when he may have been hospitalized. Powell had multiple myeloma, a blood cancer, that was in remission and early stage Parkinson’s disease, according to a close friend who asked not to be named. The blood cancer reduces the body’s ability to fight infection and puts people at higher risk for severe COVID-19.
Powell, who was the first Black secretary of state, was a mainstay in American politics for decades, and was named to senior posts by three Republican presidents and reached the top of the U.S. military during his career.
Powell served as U.S. national security adviser under then-president Ronald Reagan from 1987 to 1989. A four-star general, he chaired the Joint Chiefs of Staff under then-president George H.W. Bush during the 1991 Gulf War that saw U.S.-led forces expel Iraqi troops from neighbouring Kuwait.
A moderate Republican, Powell did consider a bid to become the first Black president in 1996, but his wife Alma’s worries about his safety steered him away. In 2008, he broke with his party to endorse Democrat Barack Obama, who became the first Black president in U.S. history.
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Powell will forever be linked with his controversial 2003 pitch to the U.N. Security Council, making former president George W. Bush’s case that Iraqi president Saddam Hussein had amassed weapons of mass destruction and was an imminent danger to the world.
Furthermore, he highlighted links of militants within Iraq to Al-Qaeda, but those connections were considered by experts as weak to non-existent.
He later admitted later that the presentation was filled with inaccuracies and warped intelligence provided by some Bush administration officials and was “a blot” that will “always be a part of my record.”
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Former president George W. Bush said he and former first lady Laura Bush were “deeply saddened” by Powell’s death, The Associated Press reported.
“He was a great public servant” and “widely respected at home and abroad,” Bush said. “And most important, Colin was a family man and a friend. Laura and I send Alma and their children our sincere condolences as they remember the life of a great man.”
— with files from Reuters and The Associated Press
Colin Powell, first Black U.S. secretary of state, dies at 84
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