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Shift on way as Powell resigns

Rice expected to take post; 3 others quit

WASHINGTON -- Secretary of State Colin L. Powell and three other members of the Bush Cabinet announced their resignations yesterday, clearing the way for a broad transformation, particularly in the foreign policy power structure, as President Bush builds his second-term governing team.

Powell, a highly popular international figure but often a lone voice of caution within the administration, suggested he had not been encouraged to stay beyond the first term.

''It has always been my intention that I would serve one term," Powell told reporters, saying he had discussed his departure with Bush several times before formally tendering his resignation last Friday. ''We were in mutual agreement that it was the appropriate time for me to move on."

An aide said Powell would have considered staying, but that Bush did not request it. White House advisers said they expected Bush to name national security adviser Condoleezza Rice to replace Powell as early as today.

In rapid succession, Bush has accepted resignations from six members of his original team over the last two weeks -- a reshuffling that advisers anticipated after the election, but also a rare opportunity for the balance of power to tip in an administration where conservatives and moderates have frequently clashed. With Powell gone, neoconservative advocates of the war in Iraq appeared poised to consolidate some of their strength, although advisers cautioned it could take up to two months for the shape of the new foreign policy team to become clear.

In naming Rice, Bush would be installing the closest of his allies at the State Department and further strengthening the role of administration hawks for the next phase of the fight against terrorism.

Perhaps more importantly, advisers said, the turnover would allow Bush to exert greater control over a foreign policy apparatus still largely run by career officers -- not only at State but also at the Central Intelligence Agency, where mounting feuds between Bush appointees and longtime officials over policy and protocol have erupted into public view recently, and yesterday led two senior career officials to quit.

Bush, in a statement yesterday, described Powell as ''one of the great public servants of our time."

''He is a soldier, a diplomat, a civic leader, a statesman, and a great patriot," Bush said. ''He will be missed."

But neither Bush nor Powell mourned the split, further evidence of their cordial but tense relationship following four rocky years of disagreements over Iraq and the Middle East that often played out in anonymous leaks to the press. For Bush, who regards loyalty as among the most important traits in an ally, the selection of Rice to replace Powell is expected to eliminate one of the few sources of discord in his governing team, further unifying the so-called ''Bush Doctrine" under a single point of view shared by Rice, Vice President Dick Cheney, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, and many of their advisers.   Continued...

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Secretary of State Colin L. Powell and National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, outside the Oval Office in May.
Secretary of State Colin L. Powell and National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, outside the Oval Office in May. (AP Photo)
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