WASHINGTON (AP) — President Bush has selected Condoleezza Rice, his national security adviser and trusted confidant, to replace Colin Powell as secretary of state, officials said yesterday, in a major shakeup of the president’s national security team. Three other Cabinet secretaries also resigned.
Powell, a retired four-star general who often clashed on Iraq and other foreign policy issues with more hawkish members of Bush’s administration, said he was returning to private life once his successor was in place.
The Cabinet exodus promised a starkly different look to Bush’s second-term team. Rice is considered more of a foreign policy hard-liner than the moderate Powell.
The White House announced Powell’s exit along with the resignations of Education Secretary Rod Paige, Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman and Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham. Veneman had said last week she wanted to stay.
Bush’s nomination of Rice is expected in the afternoon today, a senior administration official said.
Stephen Hadley, now the deputy national security adviser, is expected to replace Rice at the White House, the official said.
Combined with the resignations earlier this month of Commerce Secretary Don Evans and Attorney General John Ashcroft, six of Bush’s 15 Cabinet members will not be part of the president’s second term, which begins with his inauguration Jan. 20. An administration that experienced few changes over the last four years suddenly hit a high-water mark for overhaul.
Although there had been recent speculation that Powell would stay on, at least for part of Bush’s second term, he told reporters yesterday “I made no offer” to do so.
Known for his moderate views and unblemished reputation, Powell went before the United Nations in February 2003 to sell Bush’s argument for invading Iraq to skeptics abroad and at home. But Powell’s case was built on faulty intelligence that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction.