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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Report: Powell and Deputy to Step Down

WASHINGTON -- U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell and his deputy Richard Armitage have signaled to the White House that they intend to step down even if U.S. President George W. Bush is re-elected, setting the stage for a substantial reshaping of the administration's national security team.

Armitage recently told National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice that he and Powell will leave on Jan. 21, 2005, the day after the next presidential inauguration, sources familiar with the conversation said. Powell has indicated to associates that a commitment made to his wife, rather than dismay at the administration's foreign policy, is a key factor in his desire to limit his tenure to one presidential term.

Director of Central Intelligence George Tenet is already the third-longest-serving CIA chief and is also expected to depart, perhaps before the current term ends. Tenet's role in the Iraq weapons controversy has led to calls on Capitol Hill for his dismissal, fueling speculation he will quit soon.

The current administration has been characterized by fierce policy disputes, often between Powell and more hawkish members, and a reshuffling likely would significantly change the tenor and character of the foreign policy team.

If Bush wins a second term he may feel free to realign his foreign policy more closely to the harder-edged, conservative view exemplified by Vice President Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, said Zbigniew Brzezinski, former President Jimmy Carter's national security adviser.

Some observers have speculated that Powell, who made an extensive presentation before the UN in February before the war on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, has been embarrassed by the failure to find much evidence of chemical, biological or nuclear weapons programs.

But Powell, both publicly and privately, has said he has no regrets about his comments to the Security Council, arguing that they hold up well if read carefully.

Bush recently named Rice as his personal representative on the Middle East conflict, a move that some State Department officials view as an audition for secretary of state.

But Rice's image has been tarnished by the fallout over the administration's use of intelligence about Iraq's weapons, raising questions about her scrutiny of the materials and the veracity of her public statements.

Wolfowitz, the administration's foreign policy intellectual and prime advocate of a confrontation with Iraq, would be a more daring and controversial choice. A senior Senate Democrat said Wolfowitz would have little trouble winning confirmation in a Republican-controlled Senate.

But others said that because Wolfowitz is considered more of a strategic thinker than a manager, he could be tapped as Rice's replacement as national security adviser if she became secretary of state or entered elected politics.