NYT: Pointless photo op
From the New York Times via the AJC: "Colin Powell said nothing --- a silence that spoke volumes to many in the White House on Thursday morning.
His predecessor, Madeleine Albright, a bit stirred up after hearing an exceedingly upbeat 40-minute briefing to 13 former secretaries of state and defense about how well things were going in Iraq, asked President Bush whether, with the war 'taking up all the energy' of his foreign policy team, he had let the nuclear programs in Iran and North Korea spin out of control and allowed Latin America and China policy suffer by neglect.
'I can't let this comment stand,' Bush shot back, telling Albright and the rare assembly of her colleagues, who reached back to the Kennedy White House, that his administration 'can do more than one thing at a time.' The Bush administration, he insisted, had 'the best relations of any country with Japan, China and Korea,' and had active programs to make alliances around the world.
That was, it appears, one of the few heated moments during an unusual White House effort to bring some of its critics into the fold and provide a patina of bipartisan common ground to the strategy Bush has laid out in recent weeks for Iraq.
But if it was a bipartisan consultation, as advertised by the White House, it was a brief one. Bush allowed five to 10 minutes for interchange with the group --- which included three veterans of the Vietnam era: Robert McNamara, Melvin Laird and James Schlesinger --- before herding the whole group into the Oval Office for what he called a 'family picture.'
Those who wanted to impart more wisdom to the current occupants of the White House were sent back across the hall to meet again with Stephen Hadley, the national security adviser, and Gen. Peter Pace, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. But as several of the participants noted, by that time Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld had gone on to other meetings."