Not intentionally of course.
Here’s the timeline which tells the story:
December 16, 2000 – Powell nominated by Bush to be Secretary of State.
December 20, 2000 – Powell meets with CIA, FBI and the State Department for the transition. "We talked about al Qaeda," Powell later admits.
January 17, 2000 – Powell testifies at his confirmation hearing. Outlining the new administration’s priorities, he talks on about 20 topics, including China, Balkans, Russia, Iran, and Iraq (saying that U.N. sanctions must be "re-energized"). Number of times "terrorism" is mentioned: twice (one time, it is lumped in with "organized crime"). Number of times al Qaeda is mentioned: zero.
Front burner, my ass.