Powell: Obama should have spoken earlier on spill

Former Secretary of State Colin Powell said President Barack Obama would have been better served by giving a speech on the government's efforts to deal with the Gulf oil spill earlier.

Powell said on ABC's "This Week" on Sunday that though the president was correct to say he's been following and involved in the efforts to combat the leak since it started last month, "that impression was not conveyed to the American people."

"And the comprehensive speech he gave the other day, I think he would have been better served and the nation would have been better served if he had given it a few weeks earlier," Powell said.

Powell, a retired general and former chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff, said he believes the federal government is now fully engaged with the oil spill efforts, as it needs to be.

"It is time for a comprehensive total attack on this problem, to protect the shoreline, protect the livestock, protect the wetlands, most of all give the people in that part of the country a sense of hope that this will be solved," Powell said.

The government will need to stay in efforts to deal with the spill after the flow of oil into the Gulf of Mexico is stopped, Powell said.

"Sooner or later they will stop the leak, and after that comes the problem of cleaning up, after that comes the problem of, 'Okay, this safety system didn't work, what do we need in the future... if we are going to be drilling offshore?'" Powell said.