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MAY 4, 2009 5:02AM

Condi's Really Bad Day

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(from HIS blog on Harpers magazine) 

By Scott Horton

"For eight years, Condoleezza Rice dealt with the Beltway punditry and the access-craving White House press corps. The reception she got, with a handful of exceptions, was fawning. Which leaves her totally unprepared for a return to an academy populated with the Daily Show generation: bright young minds with a very critical attitude towards the last eight years. In a meeting with Stanford students at a dormitory reception on April 27, the school’s former provost got off to a shaky start and ended in a train wreck. She may in fact have her last words in the exchange quoted back to her some day in a law court.

Let’s fact-check Rice’s claims:

(1) She perpetuates the Abu Ghraib myth (“Abu Ghraib was not policy”), even as the Senate Armed Services Committee report demolishes it. The words she uses are essentially identical to those she uttered to me at a group meeting in the White House in May 2004. But the efforts to delink the abuses in Iraq from the formation of policy in Washington—a process in which Rice played a focal role—have gone flat. The Senate report makes clear that the abuses at Abu Ghraib flowed directly from policy choices made in the National Security Council that Condi ran.

(2) In Condiworld, the threat of Al Qaeda was greater than the threat faced by the United States in World War II, as demonstrated by the 9/11 attacks. This suggestion demonstrates an astonishing failure of reasoned judgment. U.S. fatalities in World War II totaled 405,400. The student’s point was that in the face of what might legitimately be termed an existential threat (World War II), the American government did not turn to torture. That’s correct, and Rice doesn’t seem able to come to grips with it.

(3) Rice insists that no one was tortured at Guantánamo. She cites an OSCE report that called it a “model medium security prison.” But, as the report’s author stressed, this was a characterization of the physical facility. How about the treatment of the prisoners? On that score, the OSCE had a different conclusion: it was “mental torture.” The Red Cross did complete two studies of detainees at Guantánamo, and Condi’s characterization of them is false. The first report concluded that the treatment of prisoners, particularly isolation treatment, was“tantamount to torture.” The second examined the use of the Bush Program and concluded it was “torture,” no qualifications. Rice was furnished copies of these reports. Did she take the time to read them?

(4) Rice claims that the Bush Administration’s efforts to try the Guantánamo prisoners were blocked by the Supreme Court. In fact, the years of delay in bringing charges resulted from the Bush Administration’s own policies. The Supreme Court concluded that the jury-rigged military commissions system the Bush Administration put in place without Congressional authority violated Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions—the view that the overwhelming majority of legal authorities in the United States advanced. Had the Bush Administration followed the recommendation of career military lawyers and proceeded to military commissions based on the U.S. court-martial system, no Supreme Court review would have been necessary. So the cause of the delay rests squarely with the Bush Administration, not with the Supreme Court.

(5) Rice insists that waterboarding is not torture. Why? Rice pulls a Nixon. It was not torture because the president authorized it. In Condiworld, apparently, “when the president does it, that means that it is not illegal.” What lawyer was advising Rice through this process? That’s a pressing question–the Senate Intelligence Committee suggests that legal counsel at the National Security Council was guiding her at every step–and evidently giving her some very peculiar ideas about the law.

(6) Whereas the Senate Intelligence Committee’s summary shows Rice giving authorization for waterboarding, Rice has a different recollection. “I didn’t authorize anything. I conveyed the authorization of the administration to the agency.” This is dicing things very finely. But I think I know how Judge Garzón will understand this: Rice just confessed to a focal role in a joint criminal enterprise. Nixon White House counsel John Dean, who has a lot of first-hand experience with the legal issues in play, had the same take: Rice just admitted to her role in a conspiracy to torture, a felony under 18 U.S.C. sec 2340A. Catch Dean’s comments:

So I score this: Stanford student 6, Rice 0. Rice needs to do some homework before her next appearance on campus. But first perhaps she’d better hire a good lawyer. "

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So Condi deserves civility? Depends on your definition of civility, I guess.

She became quickly irritated at the line of questioning and took an arrogant and condescending stance with the first student. Toward the end of her time with him, she was verging on belligerence. Where was HER civility?

Were he a seasoned reporter, he would have seen the opening and taken it. She was rattled. He could have continued to hammer her on particular points while maintaining a dispassionate tone that mimics "civility" without letting her off so easily. When people get emotional, they make mistakes.

He allowed her to skate on the "Were they there for interrogations?" query. He could have asked about Jose Padilla and lack of habeas corpus in the lead-up to the Supreme Court decision. He could have pointed out more fully her mistake that Axis powers never attacked the United States during WWII. It was obvious she felt herself above such doubt from a mere citizen and likely would have come unglued at some point.

She might deserve a show of civility but respect is another story. This woman is a criminal and deserves the treatment afforded such.

Shameful. I remember when a Lady was protesting in a civil manner the State Department's budget on Capital Hill. The anti-lie-war Lady had both hands painted blood red. She raised both open palm hands.

Condi smirked.
I often wonder what.
Rice's ancestral links?
Departed Spirits think?
Shame. Shame. Shame.
Who whips black folks?
Who built thee Nation?
Sweat. Cultivate Earth?
Who ruins a world huh?
On deathbed order soup.
Rice and chicken mush's.
Mushroom clouds pew
Oy! give trophy carrion!
O how pathetic? Bloody!
Oh Ma pinched cheeks?

sad. O paint face purple.
grief. dash blood on Pa.
O buy a dachshund pup.

no rest or comfort evils
civility HUBRIS repulse
smirker in red bloodbath
There is nothing like watching body language as someone tries to convince or lie their way out of something. Liars usually take twice as long to explain something that requires half the energy and language to convey if they were/are telling the truth. Me thinks the lady doth protest too much. As uncomfortable as it was to witness, I got a perverse pleasure from watching her squirm. I'd like to see a lot more of it. In court.
What surprises me more is that more than 6o% of the American public polled is against investigations into torture?! What? How can Americans continue to bury their heads in the sand and turn the page on eight of the worst years in our history as if they have just turned the cars and the keys for the lease of a lemon and happily drive out of the lot with a new car from the same dealer. Those numbers have to change and this post is an excellent addition to the reasons why.
I'm bringing in the troops!
I have just set this up on DIGG with the title "Condi Rice Admits her Role in Conspiracy to Commit Torture". PLEASE set up a Digg account.
What do you expect from someone named after an oil tanker? :)

She's a war criminal and what this episode reveals is how our august leaders and their apologists dare not put themselves in positions where they have to answer to their critics (and I don't mean by "critics" the usually courtier press).

When they do find themselves in front of people who know something and are willing to take them on, these leaders' bankruptcy and the fragility of their arguments and excuses stand in sharp relief.
Digging as we speak.

Rice is simply another of the fawning lieutenant of the Bush Crime Syndicate. each and every one of them needs to face the music.
I also like the way she says that Germany did not attack the American homeland. Well, it certainly wanted to, and as I recall, their ally, Japan, did on a certain date that will live in infamy.
Don't you just love it when Condi has a bad day?

She has given so many hundreds of thousands of people around the globe bad days. (The ones who survived her decisions, I mean.)

Made my morning. Thanks, markinjapan.
Has everyone forgotten that the Philippines were an American commonwealth when Japan attacked it? What would happen were Al Qaeda to terrorize Puerto Rico today? I think Condi would most certainly consider that an attack on the United States.
She's nuts and now I feel sick. And rwnutjob's argument doesn't hold water. Seems to me the conservatives were in charge of the education system during this time, but I don't see what that has to do with what anyone thinks about what constitutes torture. Plus the conservatives are the ones who authorized torture. I'm lost on this one.
Four Times in Eight Sentences:

Asked yesterday by a fourth grader about she thought about what President Obama's administration was saying about the methods the Bush administration used to get information from detainees, Condi Rice, having prepared better this time and scaling down the age of questioners from Stanford undergraduates to elementary school students, said:

"Let me just say that President Bush was very clear that he wanted to do everything he could TO PROTECT THE COUNTRY. After September 11, we wanted TO PROTECT THE COUNTRY," she said. "But he was also very clear that we would do nothing, nothing, that was against the law or against our obligations internationally. So the president was only willing to authorize policies that were legal in order TO PROTECT THE COUNTRY."

She added: "I hope you understand that it was a very difficult time. We were all so terrified of another attack on the country. September 11 was the worst day of my life in government, watching 3,000 Americans die. . . . Even under those most difficult circumstances, the president was not prepared to do something illegal, and I hope people understand that we were trying PROTECT THE COUNTRY."

Finger pointing condescension is all you get from that ilk of people.
Put her in the cell between Cheney, Dubya, Ashcroft, Rove and Rumsfeld.
Great observation, Lulu. I noticed it too. It was like the old Merril Lynch commercials. You're probably too young to remember.....
The woman lives in a fantasy world, to consider 9/11 worse than WWII. Has she convinced herself? Or is she so used to saying bullshit that it flows without her having to think at all?
Mark, this is extremely interesting and well-reasoned (you, I mean, not Condasleeza Rice). The more publicity the better, in the hope that the message will get through.

I really wanted to admire Ms. Rice personally, even while rejecting her world-view. I still respect her accomplishments - just being an accomplished musicians as she is gives a measure of props in my world - but the more I read about her, the more she seems like a fig leaf of sorts. Whatever she knew about Sovietology didn't transfer very effectively to post-communist Russia, and her performance as Secretary of State has, of course, been as atrocious as her performance as NSA. Worse even than Rumsfeld - at least he was effective politically and got to do what he wanted. That what he wanted was horrible, does not change this distinction. She was totally bypassed and turned into a rubber stamp - and as you allude, rubber stamps in a criminal enterprise are not held innocent.
rw -
"Oh, prisoner torture was not policy during WWII, but some Japanese prisoners were tortured..........mostly in retribution for their treatment of our POW's."

Aye, shit happens in wartime. But there were no memos telling people to do this, and no known torturers were flown into other prisons to "gitmoize" them.
This was all was dumb and an overreaction, but at the same time, there was a novelty factor here on 9/11 which took a while to understand if there was a WMD risk given the level of strategic surprise achieved in the attack a la Pearl which it is helpful to remember in terms of judgement of the Bushies.
Yes, they should have thought through what they were doing much, much more, but that would include almost everyone in the United States at some level, if my hypothesis is correct as to the real origins of this matter.
I have seen Rice once at a political convention, and although she ignored me, she went out of her way to mentor a young black woman there for 15 minutes in a way that as a teacher, impressed me, so she is not the Devil either. Possibly in over her head, but then if my hypothesis as to international politics is correct, everyone else pretty much was to. We should know shortly.
I'm sure that some can imagine my surprise to awaken here in Okinawa and find so many people commenting on this post, but first I must offer a mea culpa to those who praised me for the writing. I am nowhere in the same league as so many of the incredibly eloquent people who frequent these hallowed halls. What I am is a determined and tenacious reader, who is willing to spend long hours
researching an issue.

I am, also, known to be sloppy from time to time, and this blog post is a case in point. I have corrected the misimpression I foundered by attributing this to Mr. Horton, as I had originally intended before numerous cut and pastes left me derelict in the construction of the headline.

Once again, I apologize to all who I lead to mistakenly think these were my words/thoughts. They DO echo my thoughts, but were written by a man far more deserving of laudatory words and comments than am I, and I have written to Harpers on more than one occasion expressing my admiration for his courage and dedication (as well as posted such in comments on others threads).

Kevin Lee regarding the civility/respect she deserves, I am 100% in agreement with you and will post some words Bill Moyers offered, four years ago, at the end of this comment (tome?) which buttress OUR feelings.

Padraig, Roy Jiminez, and boanerges1, sorry to have caused you to think these were my words.

Cartouche, her body language is so telling. Job interviewers, not to mention policemen, and investigators of all stripes are taught to listen to the words and focus on the eyes and accompanying body language.

I registered on Digg thanks to BBE when he introduced me to the incredibly cogent Jason Leopold. I did, however, stupidly register under another name I've used in other places, which has now been changed to markinjapan. Now, I just need to figure out how to join the OS swarm (DUH!!!).

JK Brady, I think that Moyers remarks at the end here will confirm just how scripted she is. How a Stanford professor and a "Sovietologist" could continue to parrot the same phrases and words of six years ago, even after all the dam*ing evidence released, is more than simply on comprehensible.

And, YES, im (not so) ho, she may be stunningly oblivious, but she knew her words were becoming part of the public record - she simply didn't care.

rw: "Had conservatives been running the educational show . . ." What a chilling seven words - G-d forbid!!!

JLee Davis, spoken well and in the manner that the liars and deceivers here should regionally understand - funny, they rarely have the courage to appear on this blog. PS - Some bong hits, might have worked introspectively, even for her.

Professor, If this is the best they (she) can do in front of students, imagine what kind of responses a REAL prosecuter would elicit from her.

Thanks, BBE for all your encouragement and help.

Tim4change, I remember when some of the same likes of the prevaricators here, were speaking in 2007 about what a great presidential candidate she'd make. Excuse me time to barf, again.

Yes, Stella, that WAS the state of the secretary of state.

Procopius, Stella, and Kevin Lee: History is written by the winners, and as she is not in jail, I suppose she considers that her pyrrhic victory (for now).

Extragent: You ALL have made my morning.

Michael Rogers: Calling her nuts is an affront to nuts; and at least rw has the cogency to pick an appropriate handle.

Professor, The repetition of phraseology works better with fourth graders than Stanford students, don't You think?

Kind of Blue: Nah, put all six of the in a single cell. Some of the braying masses here keep on topic with the need to cut federal expenditures.

Phaedo: I shudder to think of the images yet, soon, to come.

LuluandPhoebe and Cartouche: As mentioned above, there IS severe cognitive dissonance between her words and all other visible nonverbal communicatory clues. I'll bet she's drenched in sweat and doubt she could pass a polygraph.

RickyB: I agree with most of your post, but Hitler was an artist. Some admired his work. I think she was more than a rubber stamp and was knowingly used herself lend legitimacy.

As for your comments to rw, Kurt Vonnegut's phrase "so it goes," might be fitting here.

Don Rich: Everytime, there is an incident of sexual misconduct or other felonious activities, the phrase "dumb" is used by the 50,000 military, dependents, and relatives to describe the behavior. Chalmers Johnson professor emeritus of the University of California, San Diego, a veteran of the Korean war, and president and co-founder of the Japan Policy Research Institute, conyends that crime in Okinawa exceeds that of the next largest military area. San Diego, by 66%.

That is not dumb, but criminal, despicable and detestable. You don't get extra points for being a teacher when you are part of criminal conspiracy involving torture and genocide.

Bill Moyers (excerpted November 2004):

Moyers, on Friday night's Now on PBS, denounced how "we are to have a new Secretary of State who dreadfully misjudged the terrorist threat leading up to 9/11 and then misled America and the world about the case for invading Iraq." Adding Bush's National Security Adviser pick, Stephen J. Hadley, to his targets, Moyers lectured: "So instead of putting America's foreign policy in the hands of people who might have restored the country's credibility in the world, the President has turned it over to two of the people who helped shred it. Both are known first and foremost for loyalty to the official view of reality, no matter the evidence to the contrary."

"It's called credibility: The quality of being believed and trusted. Once you cry wolf and it turns out you were only pretending, will anyone take you seriously next time if you say there is a wolf in the woods? That's why surveys and polls show America's credibility in the world has plummeted, including in those Muslim nations whose support is critical to the fight against terrorism. And it's why the President's nomination this week of Condoleezza Rice as Colin Powell's successor has some experts in Washington and foreign capitals shaking their heads in disbelief. Producer Peter Meryash and I took a look at Dr. Rice's record on two very critical points of credibility. Recall that in the days and weeks after 9/11, a shocked and grieving people began to ask what government officials had known and when they had known it. In May 2002, at a White House press conference, the President's National Security Adviser tried to quiet the criticism."

Condoleezza Rice: "I don't think anybody could have predicted that these people would take an airplane and slam it into the World Trade Center, take another one and slam it into the Pentagon, that they would try to use an airplane as a missile, a hijacked airplane as a missile."

Moyers: "But Condoleezza Rice was wrong. Had she looked, she could have found in the files of the intelligence community that the attack she deemed unimaginable had, in fact, been imagined repeatedly."
Moyers: "Two days after Rice's testimony and after the commission's most heated showdown with the Bush administration over access to classified information, the PDB that had been delivered to the President in Texas was released. It had indeed informed the President that, quote, 'Bin Laden told followers he wanted to retaliate in Washington.' It had told the President that FBI information, quote, 'indicates patterns of suspicious activity in this country consistent with preparations for hijackings or other types of attacks, including recent surveillance of federal buildings in New York.' And it had informed the President of reports that, quote, 'a group of bin Laden supporters are in the U.S. planning attacks.' But the President stayed at his Texas ranch for 23 more days. His National Security Adviser did not convene a Cabinet-level meeting to discuss the urgent warnings."

Tim Roemer, 9/11 Commission: "Not once do the principals ever sit down, you, in your job description as the National Security Adviser, the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Defense, the President of the United States, and meet solely on terrorism to discuss, in the spring and the summer, when these threats are coming in, when you've known since the transition that al-Qaeda cells are in the United States, when, as the PDB said on August 6, 'Bin Laden determined to attack the United States.'"

Rice: "The PDB does not say the United States is going to be attacked. It says bin Laden would like to attack the United States. I don't think you, frankly, had to have that report to know that bin Laden would like to attack the United States."

Roemer: "So why aren't you doing something about that earlier than August 6 then?"

Moyers: "It all added up to a pattern of ineptness. But despite her missteps leading up to 9/11, Rice was kept in charge of the national security team, and would play a key role as the administration prepared its case for war against Iraq. Time and again, top officials told the American public that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction."

Dick Cheney: "Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction. There is no doubt that he is amassing them to use against our friends, against our allies, and against us."

Moyers: "Rice had a particularly dire warning."

Rice: "The problem here is that there will always be some uncertainty about how quickly he can acquire nuclear weapons, but we don't want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud."
Moyers: "And just last month, it was revealed that long before the war started, Condoleezza Rice had known about the dispute. The New York Times broke the story, and Rice was asked about it on ABC News."

Rice: "At the time, I knew that there was a dispute. I actually didn't really know the nature of the dispute. We learned that, I learned that later."

Greg Thielmann, former State Department intelligence analyst: "It is incredible to me that the President's National Security Advisor would not at least satisfy herself in understanding the broad dimensions of a very vigorous dispute inside the U.S. government on the evidence behind, the most important evidence behind an allegation about the most important category of weapons of mass destruction."

Moyers: "Greg Thielmann spent 25 years in the Foreign Service before retiring in mid-2002. As a member of the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research, he led a team of analysts examining the secret intelligence on Iraq leading up to the war. I asked him about Rice's assertion that she didn't know the nature of the internal intelligence debate over the aluminum tubes."

Thielmann: "If you don't understand the details of this and, at least in broad outline, what issues do you understand with regard to justifying a war against Iraq? This was the mother of all intelligence disagreements for this subject. And so she was either irresponsible in not acquainting herself with those broad outlines of the dispute, or else she's not telling the truth."

Moyers: "After her nomination this week, the Washington Post cited experts who believe Rice is 'one of the weakest national security advisers in recent history' in doing what she was supposed to do -- 'managing interagency conflicts.' She is also one of the most partisan. In the recent campaign, in a rare use of a national security adviser for partisan purposes, President Bush sent Rice to critical battleground states from Michigan and Washington to Ohio and Florida."

Rice: "When people ask whether Iraq is a part of the war on terror, well, of course. Not only did Saddam support terrorists, not only was he a weapons of mass destruction threat and all of those things, but he was a tremendous barrier to change in the Middle East."

Moyers: "And, after one of Rice's campaign-style appearances just before the election, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported she 'did not deviate from the misleading contentions' put forth by the Bush-Cheney ticket, and that she sought, once again, 'to make the non-existent link between 9/11 and the Iraq war.' Her credibility and competence aside, Condeeleeza Rice has never wavered in her loyalty to George W. Bush, and this week he rewarded that loyalty by naming her Secretary of State, the highest post in his Cabinet. So we are to have a new Secretary of State who dreadfully misjudged the terrorist threat leading up to 9/11 and then misled America and the world about the case for invading Iraq.

"As if that's not disturbing enough, look who is succeeding her as the President's National Security Adviser. His name is Stephen J. Hadley, Rice's Alter ego and deputy at the White House. The very same Stephen Hadley who failed to remove from the President's State of the Union message that phony statement about Iraq's search for uranium in Africa, despite having been warned by the CIA that it wouldn't hold up. The very same Stephen Hadley who in June of this year wrote this article in USA Today insisting that Saddam Hussein had links to al-Qaeda, despite the finding by the official 9/11 Commission that there was no operational relationship. And the very same Stephen Hadley who led the White House planning for the post-war period in Iraq, an occupation that can only be described as a debacle. I'm not making this up. It's all on the record.
Moyers, 2004:

I find it interesting that now that we have had time to look at all of this AFTER THE FACT there is plenty of Monday morning quarterbacking going on. The fact is this country was STUNNED on 9/11 and for quite some time afterward we wanted to hit back and rightly so. It didn't take long though for the liberal media to poison the minds of the uninformed to see if they could blame America for everything wrong in the world.Well, it worked and now we have Obama who can't MAKE a decision until he is forced to do so. Well, time is running out. He can drag his feet all he wants but the Pakistan problem will only get worse., Iran will only get more aggressive and al Qaeda will only get stronger as it prepares it's next attack somewhere in the world. You people have no idea how to protect a country. Instead you weep for terrorists and condemn our brave soldiers. You all make me sick.
I decided today that everyone in the Bush admin who promotes/defends waterboarding as not torture should put their money where their mouth is and go through it, on camera, for 15 minutes, no breaks.
dijon: "I find it interesting that now that we have had time to look at all of this AFTER THE FACT . . ."

Many of us who have commented here were looking at these matters at THE TIME they occurred, while you were "trying to make sense of the world around him." How's that project going?

You need to stop standing on your head to know that up is up.

if repmes
@ rtwingnutjob -- by blaming liberal control of education for the acceptance by the masses of Bush administration excesses including torture, you have exposed yourself as our resident Stephen Colbert -- or you've set a new low in pretzel logic by a rightwingnut (no easy task). Either way, congratulations are in order.
@DJohn -- I assure you I am not weeping for terrorists or condemning our soldiers. I condemn terrorists -- including the terrorists who torture in the name of freedom. I weep for our soldiers who have been turned into torturers by chickenhawk cowards who encouraged brave young men and women to behave like those we condemn, even to torturing people in the very same prison Saddam used to torture. And as long as Bush, Cheney and apparently a majority of Americans -- including you -- continue to try and justify the unjustifiable, I weep for my country, too.
I always thought she was kind of just stuck in there - that when she came out of the miasma of Bushworld, she'd turn out to be a pretty decent human being - kind of how I regard Colin Powell.

Now I see her arrogance exceeds that of her cohorts. And she does not deserve to be on the faculty of any academic entity of independent standing. I believe that Stanford is going to seriously rethink hiring her back. Maybe it will be under the table, but I don't see her teaching there for more than two years.

If I am wrong about that, her tenure, then I am wrong about Stanford.
I will be pleased to see her, first, called before the Senate committee that will one day hold hearings on this matter, and then again in the dock from which she will try to defend herself from the charges for crimes against humanity that will one day be brought against her.
Solid post, Mark. Well said.

If she wasn't going to actually answer questions, why did she even agree to speak? Hmmm?

Rated, :)
Not many folks read this so I'm going to put the link in below... I did a post on a seeming little-heard California Report NPR story 2 months ago (as she was arriving at Stanford) in which Condi talked about what she expected at Stanford and thought people could ask her or say to her. Clearly these students are breaking the rules!

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