BERLIN – Former Secretary of State Colin Powell (search) said the Bush administration was sometimes "too blustery" in its rhetoric during the buildup to the Iraq war (search), but he still believed toppling Saddam Hussein was the right thing to do, according to a German magazine interview published Wednesday.
Powell also was quoted by Stern magazine as saying that the ongoing insurgency in Iraq is "much bigger" than anticipated. The magazine published the interview in its German translation and could not immediately offer the English version.
"I suppose we sometimes were too loud, too direct, maybe too blustery," Powell was quoted as saying. "That must have had the Europeans shuddering quite a few times."
He also said Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld's famous jibe at France and Germany, when he labeled them "old Europe" for refusing to join the war in Iraq, did not help.
"Terms like 'old Europe' (search) didn't exactly have a confidence-building effect," Powell was quoted as saying, "and clearly helped turn public opinion in Europe against us."
Powell, who retired as secretary of state in January, also said he still is angry about his Feb. 5, 2003, speech to the U.N. Security Council (search) in which he said Iraq had weapons of mass destruction that violated U.N. sanctions.
No such weapons were found, but Powell told Stern he had no reason to doubt intelligence from the CIA and other agencies suggesting Saddam had them.
Powell said he spent four days and three nights at the CIA before making the presentation, Stern reported.
"Some of this information was wrong. I didn't know that at the time," Powell was quoted as saying. "I have to live with that."
But he defended the U.S.-led invasion in 2003 that toppled Saddam and paved the way for elections in Iraq — despite the continuing anti-U.S. insurgency.
"Yes, the insurgency is much bigger than we assumed. But I'm happy that Saddam is in jail. And I'm darn glad that we will never again have to talk about weapons of mass destruction in connection with Iraq," Powell said.