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Gen. Colin Powell dies

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“We have lost a remarkable and loving husband, father, grandfather and a great American,” his family said in a statement, adding that he was fully vaccinated.

The statement continued, “We want to thank the medical staff at Walter Reed National Medical Center for their caring treatment.”

Powell, the first African-American secretary of state, served in Bush’s Cabinet from 2001-2005, including during the tumultuous years following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. The State Department described Powell, a Republican, as being “one of the foremost supporters” of taking “swift military action” against al Qaeda. Powell demanded “immediate” cooperation from Afghanistan and Pakistan in the U.S. effort to hunt down those responsible for the attacks.

By 2003, when the Bush administration’s focus had expanded to Iraq, Powell pushed for United Nations inspectors to investigate the claims that Saddam Hussein was manufacturing weapons of mass destruction.

Powell presented intelligence to the U.N. in February 2003 that supported the administration’s claim that Iraq did have weapons of mass destruction and had the capabilities of producing more. In 2004, though, the State Department said some of the intelligence he presented was “found to be erroneous.” Powell, though, according to the State Department, felt military action should not begin “until a large coalition of allies and a long-term occupation plan were in place.” Despite his advice, the administration moved toward preemptive military action against Iraq.

While the majority of his term as secretary of state was focused on Afghanistan and Iraq, the State Department said Powell pursued other areas of U.S. foreign policy—including strengthening bilateral relationships with Russia and China—including his efforts to manage the U.S. withdrawal from the U.S.-Russian Anti-Ballistic Missile treaty, and the signing of the Moscow Treaty on Strategic Offensive Reductions in May 2002.

Powell also pushed for international cooperation for North Korea and Iran to halt their nuclear weapons program. Under his leadership, the Bush administration also achieved nonproliferation success in Libya, when it agreed to give up its nuclear weapons program in 2003, according to the State Department.

Powell, during his time at the State Department, also pushed the Bush administration to increase its commitment to the international fight against AIDS, and helped to secure additional funding.

Powell was born in 1937 in Harlem, N.Y. His parents were Jamaican immigrants and raised him in the South Bronx.

He attended City College in New York, where he began his military service by joining the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC).

Following his graduation in 1958, Powell was commissioned a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army. He served for 35 years—with two tours in Vietnam, and then later acting as deputy national security adviser for former President Ronald Reagan. (Fox)

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