Excerpt: "Soldier: the Life of Colin Powell"

For an hour and fifteen minutes, he condemned what he called Saddam Hussein's efforts to conceal and to lie about his weapons programs. He played more tapes, showed satellite photographs and displayed artists' renderings of the mobile biological weapons labs he said had been described in detail by eyewitnesses. He showed a picture of an aluminum tube he said had been intercepted in an Iraq-bound shipment and of the wooden crate it had been packed in. He held up a small vial of white powder -- fake poison that had been carried to New York in Boucher's pocket. "Less than a teaspoon of dry anthrax . . . about this amount . . . shut down the United States Senate in the fall of 2001" when it arrived in an anonymous envelope, he said. Although there had been little suggestion of Iraqi involvement at the time, Powell implied a connection, saying that Iraq had never accounted for 25,000 liters of anthrax that U.N. inspectors in the 1990s estimated it had retained. It was enough, he said, for "tens upon tens of thousands of teaspoons."

He spoke of the "sinister nexus between Iraq and the al Qaeda network, a nexus that combines classic terrorist organizations and modern methods of murder." Saddam was currently harboring a "deadly terrorist network headed by Abu Musab al Zarqawi, an associate and collaborator of Osama bin Laden and his al Qaeda lieutenants." In far more detail than any administration official had offered publicly to date, he described Iraqi training of al-Qaeda operatives in chemical and biological weapons production, attributing the information to a "senior terrorist operative" now in U.S. custody.

"Some believe, some claim, these contacts do not amount to much," he said. "They say Saddam Hussein's secular tyranny and al Qaeda's religious tyranny do not mix. I am not comforted by this thought."

The foreign ministers and other officials around the table were silent. Iraqi Ambassador Mohamed Al-Douri furiously scribbled notes. Kofi Annan sat pensively, making steeples of his long fingers. Joschka Fischer twiddled with his pen, drummed his fingers and cleaned his glasses. Dominique de Villepin leaned forward and stared at Powell intently while Jack Straw nodded his head in agreement.

"We know that Saddam Hussein is determined to keep his weapons of mass destruction, is determined to make more," Powell said in closing. "Given Saddam Hussein's history of aggression, given what we know of his grandiose plans, given what we know of his terrorist associations and given his determination to exact revenge on those who oppose him, should we take the risk that he will not some day use these weapons at a time and a place and in a manner of his choosing, at a time when the world is in a much weaker position to respond?

"The United States will not and cannot run that risk for the American people." The Security Council, in Resolution 1441, had given Iraq one last chance, he said. "Iraq is not, so far, taking that one last chance. We must not shrink from whatever is ahead of us. We must not fail in our duty and our responsibility to the citizens of the countries that are represented by this body."

The other ministers followed his presentation with statements of their own, most of which seemed to have been prepared before Powell spoke. None appeared to have changed his or her views in light of Powell's revelations.

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