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Colin Powell, First Black Secretary of State, Dies of Complications of Covid at 84

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Powell had been treated for multiple myeloma, which left him immunocompromised.

Colin Powell, the first black secretary of state, has become another casualty of the pandemic. He died today of complications of Covid at age 84 despite being fully vaccinated.

Powell, a four-star general, was appointed chairman of the Joint Chiefs in 1989 by President Bush, and then in 2001 became secretary of state under President George W. Bush. But as Iona College history professor James Carroll explained, he advised presidents of both parties.

“I think his background in the military gave him a certain amount of credibility with a number of presidents not just those he served under. I know he was sought after on a number of occasions by several presidents who just wanted his advice,” said Carroll.

“Military people tend to devote themselves to the office of president, not who’s sitting at the desk, their job is to serve whoever happens to be in the Oval Office,” he said.

Powell’s career was in part defined by the two US wars with Iraq. He called his decision to support the 2003 invasion of Iraq a “blot” on his record. It failed to find any weapons of mass destruction.

Carroll said he believes Powell genuinely thought the war was necessary at the time.

“I think he used the best intelligence and data that he had available at the time and I, just my read on it, is that these decisions were made very, very quickly,” said Carroll.