The Trail: A Daily Diary of Campaign 2008


National Security

Rice Defends Enhanced Interrogations

Updated 2:07 p.m.
By Glenn Kessler
While Vice President Cheney has publicly defended the Bush administration's use of enhanced interrogation techniques such as waterboarding, other senior decision-makers at the time have remained silent. But former secretary of State and national security adviser Condoleezza Rice -- who declined to comment last week on the release of Justice Department memos authorizing the practice -- was caught on video tape this week giving a finger-wagging defense to a persistent Stanford University student.

"In terms of the enhanced interrogation and so forth, anything that was legal and was going to make this country safer, the president wanted to do," Rice said. "Nothing that was illegal. And nothing that was going to make the country less safe." She also urged the student to remember the context of the decision-making in 2002, shortly after the sept. 11 attacks. "Unless you were there, in a position of responsibility after September 11th, you cannot possibly imagine the dilemmas that you faced in trying to protect Americans," she said, adding "you were determined to do anything that you could that was legal to prevent that from happening again."

Rice became riled when the student noted that the United States did not torture during World War II.

"With all due respect, Nazi Germany never attacked the homeland of the United States," Rice shot back.

Japan, Germany's ally, however, attacked Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, killing 2,350 military personnel and civilians.

The student persists, and says that the United States tortured detainees at Guantanamo Bay.

"No, no dear, you're wrong," Rice said. "You're wrong. We did not torture anyone. And Guantanamo Bay, by the way, was considered a model quote-'medium security prison' by representatives of the Organization of Security and Cooperation in Europe who went there to see it. Did you know that?"

(Alain Grignard, an expert for the OSCE, said in 2006 that Guantanamo was a "model prison" where inmates are treated better than in Belgian jails, though he added that holding people for many years without telling them what would happen to them is a form of "mental torture.")

At one point, Rice puts on her best professorial voice and jabs, "Do your homework first."

Rice insisted she did not authorize the CIA to use the interrogation techniques, as was widely reported last week: "I didn't authorize anything. I conveyed the authorization of the administration to the agency that they had policy authorization, subject to the Justice Department's clearance. That's what I did."

Asked whether waterboarding is torture, Rice replied emphatically: "We were told, nothing that violates our obligations under the Convention Against Torture. And so, by definition, if it was authorized by the president, it did not violate our obligations under the Conventions Against Torture."

Rice made much the same case when she toured Europe in late 2005, defending U.S. detainee practices. Earlier this year, however, President Obama declared the practice is torture and violated U.S. international obligations.

Posted at 1:44 PM ET on Apr 30, 2009  | Category:  National Security
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The FBI's best interrogator, who interrogated AQ top level agents after 9/11, has said that nothing was gleaned from "enhanced interrogation" techniques that could not have been gained via more traditional methods, at less cost to our own interests, and without violating any laws. Yes, when we are signatories to anti-torture conventions, torture is NEVER permitted, otherwise we are no better than the Khmer Rouge and we abdicate any moral authority in the world that we may ever have had.

Posted by: jayfram | May 3, 2009 10:11 PM

Obama's own director of national intelligence admitted that the enhanced interrogation methods yielded valuable information about AQ. The left needs to drop the dishonest argument that these methods don't work. They do work. The question is when they are justified. This is a complicated question, and the notion that they are never justified is oversimplified nonsense. Yes there is a line, but it's not at *never*.

Posted by: Tusec | May 3, 2009 6:12 PM

"There are at least 2,974 good reasons to support "enhanced interrogation." Each one of them is a human being who lost everything, including his or her life, in the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks."

mockingbird, that is a statement that could be made only by someone who's watched too many episodes of "24." First of all, who among the 9/11 victims' families authorized you to speak for them? Do you really believe that going out and torturing people is somehow a way for us to punish someone for 9/11? I've never even heard the tragically farcical Bush spokespeople try to justify torture on those terms. Do you even know who all the people are who were the victims of these techniques? What about the street thugs (or people who just happened to be arrested for no reason) in Abu Ghraib - can you please explain how the 9/11 victims are "good reason" for their torture and sometimes death? In fact, by engaging in torture, if anything, we have probably betrayed the victims of 9/11 by compromising our principles, giving further fuel to extremists, and probably compromising our ability to actually bring some of these people to justice. Do you think Khaled Sheik Mohammed is ever going to be able to be put on trial after being waterboarded 200 times? Not to mention that torture techniques have not been shown to even be any more effective than legal interrogation techniques. Did you know we took these techniques from the North Koreans, whose only goal was to elicit false confessions? And that waterboarding was a technique used in the Spanish Inquisition? Your comment is so breathtakingly outragreous, on so many levels, it's unbelievable.

Posted by: jayfram | May 3, 2009 1:10 AM

The self-righteous young man who brought up the captured German soldiers knows nothing of international law, the laws of war, or the Geneva Conventions. If he did, he would know the difference between a lawful and unlawful combatant. On multiple occasions, we summarily tried via military courts martial and executed German soldiers who violated the laws of warfare.

Then the kid demonstrates his ignorance by brings up indefinite detention. Under the Geneva Conventions it is allowed to detain POWs for the duration of the conflict. Assuming we did grant Al-Qaeda terrorists POW status, the War on Terror is still ongoing, so we are under no legal obligation to release them.

There are 18-year old military recruits who have more knowledge of international law than a 20-something Stanford prodigy. From this, we can only draw that Stanford is failing its students.

Posted by: meh130 | May 2, 2009 9:36 PM

There are at least 2,974 good reasons to support "enhanced interrogation." Each one of them is a human being who lost everything, including his or her life, in the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

Posted by: mock1ngb1rd | May 2, 2009 4:48 PM

"Nothing was illegal???" " do anything that you could that was legal????"

Has this woman EVER read the Geneva Convention??? She is suppose to be highly intelligent, highly educated. Well, I will take an uneducated person of so-called "limited intelligence" who has morals over the likes of her, Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, the whole lot of them....

As for a dilemma -- she wouldn't know a dilemma if it bit her on the derriere.

As for "position of responsibility after September 11th," her responsibility was to uphold the Constitution, the Geneva Convention, and international law.

She needs to learn that the ends do NOT justify the means.

Rice better get herself a lawyer; she and the rest of Bush et al are going to need one. And someone who can explain the law to the whole lot.

Posted by: abby0802 | May 2, 2009 12:59 PM

Pelosi and any other Democrats who knew about torture and did nothing should be the first to the gallows. After all, they are guilty of hypocrisy, which is the one crime worse than torture.

I say try the Democrat war criminals first - then we'll think about how to handle the Republicans.

Maybe the Republicans can be rehabilitated.

But the hypocrites need to go.

Posted by: Tusec | May 1, 2009 9:03 PM

Rice, probably still sees WMDs. Sadaam should have 'defined' his torture as not torture like Bush/Cheney. Let's see, Sadaam and Bush both tortured humans, both invaded a foreign country, jailed citizens w/o charges/legal recourse, spied on their own citizens, etc. Hmmm, lots of simularities....

Posted by: VoodooScience | May 1, 2009 7:21 PM

Of course, Ms Rice is correct: water-boarding is NOT a near-drowning technique- the subject is never in danger of drowning.

And water-boarding is NOT torture- there is no physical harm to the subject.

The snarky student that attempted to confront her was a typical self-righteous Obot, with sweeping generalizations and “knows” an awful lot of stuff that isn’t true.

Condi did the right thing in the now defunct War on Terror, and has nothing to hide. She doesn’t need to take any crap about it from some college kid, either… perhaps he wasn’t aware she was drawn from Stanford, and is quite familiar with his type.

Posted by: ReaganiteRepublican | May 1, 2009 7:17 PM

The entire bush regime, repukes and dems alike, are going to see what it means to be held accountable for their actions. Rice is no exception.

Some suggest they are "sick" of hearing that "America is a nation of Laws".


Posted by: dematheart | May 1, 2009 7:14 PM

I won't be satisfied until Pelosi and Cheney and all the other Bush-era criminals who gave torture the nod are hanging from their toenails.

Posted by: Tusec | May 1, 2009 6:05 PM

Condi stopped Saddam Hussein AND the US from torturing anyone!

When Condi became Secretary of State in 2005 she was in a more powerful position which she put to good use to put a stop to torture.

All Condi's public statements were unequivocally anti-torture and every time she spoke out against torture she stripped away more of the political cover those like Cheney inside the administration who were backing torture had.

In due course, the Bush-Cheney-CIA torturers were exposed for all to see how low they had stooped and the “enhanced interrogation” policy collapsed - thanks to Condi's public leadership against torture.

But it wasn't just that Condi argued publicly against torture - she also made moves inside the administration to get it stopped as soon as she had the power to do so.

As can been heard in this recent TV interview by Philip Zelikow for MSNBC - part 1, part 2
when Condi became Secretary of State and actually had some administrative authority in the administration (NSA is just an advisor) she put him (Zelikow) on the job of turning the Bush administration policy away from enhanced interrogation because she had grave concerns about the whole thing.

In other words, Condi used the power she had, which was limited, to do the right thing and that is EXACTLY what you need from a president.

Now although the CIA did wrongly torture a few people, this happened under an administration which did more than anyone to reduce the total amount of torture in the world when they removed Saddam Hussein who tortured people in their thousands.

We should be proud of Condi for standing her ground and fighting this through to a situation where the US government and the CIA are now hopefully torture free.

Condi stopped Saddam Hussein torturing anyone and now she has stopped the US torturing anyone.

Condi is amazing because who else could have done that? Americans should elect Condoleezza Rice as president in 2012.

Bush and Condi are different people altogether. Condi would not have picked Cheney as her VP (I think) and if somehow she had been lumped with a VP Cheney she would not have delegated to Cheney supervision of the CIA. That is my firm belief.

I don't know who Condi would pick as her VP but that chap Zelikow is a long-time friend and colleague of Condi's and she has plenty of other highly talented people to pick from. She wouldn't pick a Cheney so we can trust her as President.

I don't think Condi would pick Sarah Palin for VP either.

Peter Dow,
Group owner
Rice for President Yahoo Group

"Condoleezza Rice for President in 2012. Join this group of supporters from everywhere on the world wide web."

Posted by: peterdow | May 1, 2009 5:33 PM

You have no credibility, Condoleeza. You need to go back to the (piano) bench. You were a token for Twig, and I'd bet in your heart of hearts you know it. If you still have that book deal, you'd better give all proceeds to the poor. Even your dissertation advisor at the University of Denver has disowned you, as have most of us.

Posted by: MouthSore | May 1, 2009 3:00 PM

Bush administration gave a bad picture of America to the entire world and worse still encouraged many youths in the Muslim world to join the terrorist outfit.

It, too, encouraged foreign governments to use disproportionate military force on helpless civilians under the guise of 'war on terror'. Sri Lankan government emboldened to starve, commit continued human rights violations, bombed and shelled minority Tamils with a blank cheque from the previous administration.

Posted by: shanmugalingams | May 1, 2009 2:36 PM

Often one does get interesting commentary when pinning down a politician on one or another sensitive issue. I have no difficulty concluding, she's as involved in the Bush-era-debacle as is Cheney, Rummy, Yoo, Feith, et al.

We're better off with the right-wing Bush administration out of office.

Posted by: skiloypet | May 1, 2009 2:35 PM

Stanford fire Rice? I don't think so. Not a campus with the Herbert Hoover Memorial Library smack dab in the middle. I have never been impressed with Stanford or Condoleeza Rice; and, as for the later, while she was in office,I always felt that she gave secretaries a bad name. What was she doing when the warnings for 9/11 came through; her nails?

Posted by: nwsjnky1 | May 1, 2009 2:22 PM

Rice, like the rest of the criminals in the Bush administration, is posturing to protect herself from prosecution. It won't work Condi. You are a coconspirator in war crimes. You are also a pathological liar, who would lie if the truth fit better! I understand your reasons for lying. You don't want to go to prison, but, the time for that has passed. I'll be very happy about your situation, when you go from being called Doctor Rice, to Inmate Rice. Stanford U. should be ashamed to be associated with you. You are disgrace to the human race. Good luck in prison.

Posted by: ChingarraSan | May 1, 2009 1:55 PM

section9 -- well said!

(and it should be noted that "beclowned" is pretty much the best word ever..)

Posted by: Tusec | May 1, 2009 1:40 PM

I don't condone anything Ms. Rice said in rebuttal, but the student in this case is also wrong.

We don't know a lot about WW II yet, because most of it is still classified in the National Archives.

I have not found any war in history where both sides did not use techniques that could later be called "torture". I am a veteran and very proud of my service, but I know that we have leaders in every war that want to go the easy route...and torture is the easy route in interogation...and we have soldiers who obey illegal orders...they are in a Catch 22 lose-lose situation if they don't.....and give in to the situation. I never used torture techniques during my combat time, but I suspected often that they were used by our partner nations, and probably by some of our own troops. There were many times when I was tempted though, especially after have comrades injured or killed by them.

Point: We cannot say that we have not used torture since we don't have access to the full records. And yes, Secretary Rice is right about one thing. Until you are there in the situation you have no idea what the pressure is to give in to less than honorable practices. Students are great, but often they are also naive. To defend torture though shows that Secretary Rice cannot look at her own and her associates practices in an objective manner either.

Posted by: Tawodi | May 1, 2009 10:11 AM

Let's not forget that it was Ms. Rice who presided over sessions with the entire cabinet in which the torture of U.S. prisoners was planned. In addition it was our girl who along with President Bush was warned that the 9/11 attacks were imminent. She did nothing to prevent these attacks. In fact she continued her vacation with the President.
Now we get to the really disturbing reasoning for the Bush torture policies.
Rice sez I didn't authorize anything. I conveyed the authorization of the administration to the agency that they had policy authorization, subject to the Justice Department's clearance. That's what I did."
Then she sez, "if it was authorized by the president, it did not violate our obligations under the Conventions Against Torture."
Apparently Rice, along with other officials of the Bush adminisration, is under the impression that the DOJ and the President just make up the laws as they go. Nevermind that laws are actually made and approved by the Congress. In addition, if Rice felt so good about about the policies of torturing prisoners whythen were the soldiers at Abu Ghraib prison allowed to be prosecuted and jailed when they were carrying out orders and were directed by the CIA? This shows a complete lack of moral courage by the entire Bush administration with Ms. Rice leading the pack.
In addition to all of this if the Bush administration felt they were on such firm legal footing then why do everything in their power to suppress the DOJ memos which supported these actions? When do we as a nation keep secret decisions which affect the ways in which laws are administered. This is the same as putting prisoners and U.S. citizens on double secret probation.

Posted by: OhMy | May 1, 2009 10:07 AM

Nuremburg 2010

Starring Bush, Rumsfeld, Bremer, Casey, Rice, Perle, Wolfowitz, Bybee, Yoo, Addington, Tenet, Mueller, Feith, Luti, and a special guest appearance by General Colin Powell.

Posted by: JoshSN | May 1, 2009 7:45 AM

Nazi saboteurs did attack the United States
during world war two. Groups from submarines landed as well. The Japanese were required to attack us as per their agreement with Germany. War is a business. Ask Cheney.
As for torture, I think intensive questioning is better than enhanced interrogation. It has a better spin.
Rice is just doing her job which is to lie with a straight face.

Posted by: seemstome | May 1, 2009 5:52 AM

Ok, now I am a strong supporter of Obama and I was not a strong supporter of Bush. But this whole comparison between Rice's statements and Nixon is absurd.

I think it is more than clear that she meant that if they RECEIVED the orders from the President's administration then those orders had already been reviewed to assure that they did not violate the conventions against torture. So by definition if they received them they were not torture.

Not that just because the President gave the order it was legal and not torture.

Posted by: jgm51672 | May 1, 2009 12:57 AM

One of the sad things about this debate is that the extremists have taken over and there is no middle ground. Unfortunately, thanks to the fabulist in the White House, the extremists have also taken over World War II history in an effort to condemn Rice.

Condi, for her part, was trying to get across to a self-righteous little undergraduate that the U.S. had not been attacked in the homeland by Nazi Germany. Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor was against a military base in what was at that time a remote territory. Even so, the reaction of the public was to fly into an existential rage at the Japanese. For the following three and a half years the U.S. and Japan fought what amounted to a race war. It is not for nothing that Max Hastings titled his book about the U.S. campaign against the Home Islands "Retribution".

The Pacific War was virtually a "No Prisoners" Campaign because of the memory of Pearl Harbor, the Bataan Death March, and the unwillingness of the Japanese to surrender as the Wehrmacht did when it was time to "throw in the sponge". Curtis LeMay's firebombing campaign against civilian targets in the Home Islands was the logical conclusion of the U.S. war against Japan. While the atomic bombs were originally meant to be split between Berlin and the Tokyo suburbs in a surprise joint strike, the U.S. gladly used both on Japan to end the war.

As to Mr. Churchill. Please. I am an admirer of Mr. Churchill above all other statesmen. Indeed, probably much more so than the President, who returned a bust of Mr. Churchill to the British right after his inaugural. But this is the same Mr. Churchill who, while cited for his abstention from any torture against German spies, did not hesitate to order the execrable Bomber Harris to level the open city of Dresden with napalm incendiaries in 1945.
Mr. Obama's citation of Mr. Churchill's character is both salutary and selective. Perhaps now Mr. Obama will take Winston's bust back?

The notion that brutality in war on the U.S. side is unprecedented is laughable, and is being peddled by people who should know better. Should waterboarding be practiced by the U.S.? Probably not? Is it a war crime? Not really. Al Qaeda men aren't covered by Geneva, no matter how Barack Obama might wish it so-unless he wants to start paying Khalid Sheikh Muhammad his monthly ration of Swiss Francs and allow him to engage in "Science Experiments" every month.

This is not about "who we are as a people". This is about public policy and about protecting the American people from attack. In that respect, Rice's clarity was admirable. I have yet to see the same sense of vision from this present beclowned Administration.

Posted by: section9 | May 1, 2009 12:11 AM

LOL, and Rice is a MORON, we already knew that much!


Posted by: clermontpc | April 30, 2009 11:48 PM

Wow, she just admitted to Conspiracy and it's now on "tape".

Posted by: pca6661 | April 30, 2009 11:09 PM

In her statements about the water boarding practice, she said over and over that the orders came from Bush. There shouldn't be any doubt now that the orders came from the top.

Posted by: racam | April 30, 2009 10:42 PM

there is plenty of drugs to have somebody talk and he will enjoy it and he will even say more that what he knows...

Posted by: blafouille | April 30, 2009 10:16 PM

If water boarding is legal then the information gleaned from it should be discarded just as illegal search and sesure in a criminal case. Then we wont have any reason to hold the detainees and they should be released back into socity.

Posted by: Curly4 | April 30, 2009 10:08 PM

Funny the moral indignation of the Che T-shirt crowd over "torture".

This is the same left that spent most of last century making excuses for regimes that thought nothing of murdering, starving, and torturing their own citizens on a massive scale.

Maybe when the left owns up to that, they'll have standing to render a moral judgment.

Until then, it is proper to fart in their general direction.

Posted by: Tusec | April 30, 2009 9:47 PM

"Unless you were there, in a position of responsibility after September 11th, you cannot possibly imagine the dilemmas that you faced in trying to protect Americans," she said, adding "you were determined to do anything that you could that was legal to prevent that from happening again."

I admit this, but disagree with Dr. Rice on what was legal. Secondly, I disagree with the President now too -- promising not to prosecute the people who ordered or authorized that treatment is tantamount to inexcusably granting them the privilege of saying "I was only doing what I was told."

In Army basic combat training (1980), we were given one afternoon of training on the Geneva Conventions of WAR. One thing we were told was that we should argue or seek to remind a person issuing an order that was a clear violation of the GCW of the fact that the order was illegal. We were also told that we could not legally refuse any orders, legal or not, without being subject to Court-Martial. We were also told that we could defend ourselves at the Court Martial by questioning the controversial order(s). Probably we would lose, probably would not really alter anything.

Though, if the orders proved illegal, such as us refusing them would not be subject to the Hague, and could never be charged with a crime against humanity. We might even be released (if we were imprisoned over the orders), including having all the jail time count as DUTY.

Posted by: thatGuyinSW | April 30, 2009 9:25 PM

Rice is a LIAR.

Stanford should FIRE her.

A totally disgusting human being who should be charged with war crimes.

Posted by: mdpilot | April 30, 2009 9:20 PM


WHen you touchy feelies have 7 years in wihtout another attack, there may be a reason for some slight discussion of the President Bush years. So far everyone the great engager President Obama has ebgaged has later said " Hey, kiss my Biden..."

Posted by: TXSFRED "

UM--Who was President on September 11,2001?
"Kept us safe?" Does one devastating attack not count?

Posted by: thrh | April 30, 2009 8:53 PM

Posted by: scrivener50 | April 30, 2009 8:50 PM

It is amazing that people will defend illegal and immoral actions.

Of course, Rice may be just trying to save her own derriere. Can anyone say war criminal???

I have said it before; I say it again. If we condone torture we become the very enemy we claim to seek to defeat....

Posted by: abby0802 | April 30, 2009 8:45 PM

And oh yes, if the same "techniques" had been used on American men and women in uniform, and the other side had certified it as "legal and therefore not torture", Condi would not hesitate in calling it torture and a war crime. Period. Full stop.

The hypocrisy of Shrub's minions never falls to amaze me. In this one, it goes way beyond "if the President says to do it, it's not illegal". This one takes it all the way to "it's not torture if we do it".

Posted by: jpk1 | April 30, 2009 8:14 PM

The defense of the indefensible is so difficult, isn't it?

Condi's attempts a three pronged approach: sophistry ("if the President says to do it, it's not illegal"), attitude ("do your homework, dear"), and distraction ("the only issue was indefinite detentions, and the Supremes took that out of our hands").

You just keep telling yourself that, Condi.

There's no question in anyone's mind who hasn't been hiding under a rock for the last eight years: we tortured. You were part of it, Condi. In point of fact, you choreographed torture sessions. No amount of sophistry, attitude, or distraction will change that.

When the blood and vomit was being wiped from the floors, Condi, there was no question whether it was torture. There was no sophistry that it was legal and therefore "by definition" somehow not torture. There was no talk of "doing homework" or blaming irrelevancies on the Supremes. It was torture. We tortured. We committed war crimes. No word games with Stanford students will ever change that.

And you go Stanford! For speaking truth to power.

Posted by: jpk1 | April 30, 2009 8:06 PM

Let's get real,even though all you bathroom lawyers may be offended. Our enemies did torture-some quite badly. The "fine/upstanding" Americans just can't do that-because blah blah blah & etc. Well-the American people have been very sheltered-thanks to our (previously) strong economy & military. I served (more than one year) in Vietnam and 20.5 years in the military. For the untutored masses-war has been something going on a long way from USA & unless you've been there-you do not have any (real) idea what it's like. The protection of our citizens comes at a very dear price. Then-our own citizens condemn and call names those who protected them from having to live like the citizens of "those other countries". Vietnam vets even got spit on upon returning from the unpopular war. Well-get realistic-without the proper tools & (yes) intelligence to counter our enemies-you too could have to live the way "other people" have to live & you'll find that even more unacceptable. So-"Get Real". I agree with the Bible and that it is wrong to wage war-war is truly terrible. All the things connected with war are horrible. But-there will be wars & rumors of wars. If the people of the United States want protection-then face up to a few very ugly facts.

Posted by: Jumbo930 | April 30, 2009 8:04 PM

"With all due respect, Nazi Germany never attacked the homeland of the United States."

Winston Churchill said waterboarding was torture but that he wouldn't do it to captured Nazi's even though the Nazi's did attack England and killed thousands in blitzkrieg attacks. Why??? Because civilized people don't torture, only religious or ideological whacko fanatics! That's what makes us different from them.

Shame on you Condi!!

Posted by: thebobbob | April 30, 2009 7:58 PM


Posted by: kendreik | April 30, 2009 7:55 PM

WHen you touchy feelies have 7 years in wihtout another attack, there may be a reason for some slight discussion of the President Bush years. So far everyone the great engager President Obama has ebgaged has later said " Hey, kiss my Biden..."

Posted by: TXSFRED | April 30, 2009 7:55 PM


Referring to her as DR. Rice would actually be "Respectful"! ;~)

Posted by: SAINT---The | April 30, 2009 7:31 PM

Ms. Rice deserves respect, not derision. Her loyalty to her boss is extremely admirable in light of all the disclosures about the secrecy and deviousness of the Bush and Cheney duo. She was always the proper diplomat and represented the USA fairly and morally to the rest of the world. She is ostensibly diligent, resourceful, eloquent and intelligent. Loyalty is one of her strongest characteristics. In the face of the non-transparent policies of the W administration, she was as open and honest as she could possibly be. She would be a fine addition to the Obama team and would help to resolve a lot of bipartisanship, just as Specter has done by switching parties at this auspicious moment. Kudos to a fine lady. She has helped America in many ways as a diplomat and statesperson. She deserves the highest of praise for taking over from another fine, moral and honest politician and soldier, Colin Powell. I wish her the best of success in any future way she desires to serve her country, sacrificing her personal life, as she obviously did. I'm sure that most Americans are proud of her efforts and successes. Thank you for listening. Thank you for allowing me to add my comments and commendations for Condy Rice in whatever role she wants to play for her country. Hopefully, she gets some more enjoyment out of life and relaxes a bit before she tackles another tough job. Sincerely, Izzy Sommers, MD, Welland, Canada.

Posted by: canadizzy | April 30, 2009 7:19 PM

This memo thing is purely political.

If it were about torture, they (Eugene Robinson, et al) would be talking about Extraordinary Rendition invented by the Clinton-Gore administration.

Posted by: hz9604 | April 30, 2009 7:10 PM

Oh. I forgot Dresden too. Sorry.

Posted by: RUListening2Urself | April 30, 2009 7:06 PM

Please, oh please get off your high-horse about Americans not torturing during WW2. It was fairly common throughout the Pacific theator, with the unofficial order of the day to "take no prisoners" along with mutilation of war dead. In the European theater, yeah, the Americans were not as bad as the Germans, who were not as bad as the Russians, but torture and massacres took place. Chenhogne, the Salina Utah Massacre, and the Rheinwiesenlager atrocities are some examples. Just because one side is victorious and chooses to present history from their view doesn't wash away the bloodied earth of truth. Please read more about history than blindly reciting what you are told. It can apply to other fields as well - politics for example.

Posted by: RUListening2Urself | April 30, 2009 6:55 PM

I'm not the World's best at Spamming!


Want to scare Libbies?

Promote: Dennis Miller/ Ann Coulter 2012! ;~)

Posted by: SAINT---The | April 30, 2009 6:39 PM

Perhaps today's column should go under the heading:



Posted by: FairlingtonBlade | April 30, 2009 6:37 PM

oooowwweee...i like Coulter.
where's that link?

Posted by: TheBabeNemo | April 30, 2009 6:15 PM

Ann Coulter's latest Op-Ed is Spot-On!

Terrorists: "We do that on First Dates!"

"Hey! Khalid!

NOW you are going to get what you DESERVE!

(Bring in the FEATHER!)


Suffer Scum! ;~)

Posted by: SAINT---The | April 30, 2009 6:12 PM

Baby Bush: it was only a 3 page sign off.
Enhance our interrogations efforts for maximum affect.

If the President does it, it's not illegal.

(((oh wait, that was Nixon))))

Posted by: TheBabeNemo | April 30, 2009 6:07 PM

Also, she compares our actions to the Iranians, saying, "You want to talk about human right abuses... Iran."

We do not vote for the leaders of Iran. They do not act on our behalf. We are responsible for our leaders. Just because what the Iranians do is worse does not make what we do legal or moral.

This video will be shown at a trial one day.

Posted by: smdunkel2 | April 30, 2009 5:59 PM

well, this article is enlightening:
"I conveyed the authorization of the administration to the agency that they had policy authorization, subject to the Justice Department's clearance. That's what I did."
conveyed the authorization.
and what authorization was that?

hmmmm........the lunch scene in W.
would you eat the lettuce????

Posted by: TheBabeNemo | April 30, 2009 5:53 PM

"do your homework"

do your jail time!

Posted by: sharvey62 | April 30, 2009 5:21 PM

Perhpas the most stomach-churning aspect of the (thankfully) former Secretary of State's responses is the intellectual dishonesty revealed by them.

When a student challenges her with a basic truth -- the America didn't torture even in the darkest hours of World War II -- she replies...

"With all due respect, Nazi Germany never attacked the homeland of the United States"

...knowing full well -- as any first-year history student can tell you -- that Imperial Japan did. Implicit in her response, also, is that torture somehow becomes justifiable, when one's homeland is attacked, which, as former Secretary of State she knows to be indefensible and also illegal under Article 2 of the United Nations Convention on Torture:

"2. No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat of war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture"

And, finally, her response also implicitly acknowledges the factual basis that forms the premise of the student's statement: that torture actually occurred. Notice, she didn't immediately respond to the student's statement with the words "and we didn't torture either"....her knee-jerk reaction was an attempt to provide a moral context in which she could justify it.

Appalling from a former Secretary of State.

Posted by: Gladiator2008 | April 30, 2009 5:16 PM

So Condi is taking issue with Cheney's assertions that not only did the administration approve torture, but that it worked in staving off "another 9/11"?

Posted by: parkerfl1 | April 30, 2009 5:13 PM

I'm a long time admirer of Condoleeza Rice. She's incredibly creative and talented. However, here she's making a circular argument; it's legal because we said it was. It worries if me if the Bush Admin.'s best and brightest can't do better than that.

Posted by: ideallydc | April 30, 2009 5:11 PM

Ok, OK , So....the Nazi's didn't attack the "homeland" but the Japanese did. Some Japanese soldiers used Waterboarding on American POW's. The US tried, convicted and executed those Japanese as war criminals.
Hhhhmmmmmm..... makes one think.

So, whom should the US put on trial?

Posted by: Rational4vr | April 30, 2009 5:04 PM

Pathetic. Another example of the Bush administration showing itself as "above the law." Except for a small group of right wingers who wrote or were privy to the secret memos on "not torture," the vast majority of people know that the harsh treatment was truly torture as is commonly understood and was legally regarded until those memos. The damage to the US is that by abandoning our principles of human decency under law in this instance, we diminish our ability to invoke those principles in the future. Also, don't they realize that our own Declaration of Independence justified rebellion against tyranny and that making phony definitions to allow human degradation is a form of tyranny? No wonder Bush, Cheney and company disappeared during the election. They have no credibility now.

Posted by: insighter | April 30, 2009 4:59 PM

More importantly, in the midst of the bombing of London, Churchill still wouldn't consider torture of their detainees.

I think Rice's statement that "if you weren't there with the responsibility of preventing another 9/11, you can't understand" actually does mean something.

It means that Bush and co. aren't nearly the great leaders they claim to be. I think many people would probably have made the same decisions they did. But that's way 'many' people aren't 'great leaders'. Churchill was one and Bush loves to ride his coattails. But in this case he's just being dragged through the mud...

Posted by: rpixley220 | April 30, 2009 4:55 PM

The old Nixon reasoning...Rice states "if it was authorized by the president, then it is not illegal". Didn't work for Nixon in 1974, doesn't work for Bush either Dr. Rice. Condolessa should watch the Nuremburg Trials...just following orders doesn't cut it either.

Posted by: logcabin1836 | April 30, 2009 4:45 PM

The point to note however is that Presidential authorizations are only empowered by the constitution and the law and it isn't the case that a president's written order or verbal command or whatever always stands up as a legal, constitutional presidential authorization.

It isn't the case that the word of the president alone becomes law because the president in a constitutional republic has limited powers and not the unlimited powers of a dictator or a monarch.

I am not a lawyer so I cannot say for sure whether US or international law outlaws waterboarding or not (though I trust it IS outlawed) but if it is illegal then the president couldn't just overrule the law by saying - "it's OK, I'm the president saying you can do it, so that makes it legal".

To summarize I would say it sounds like Condi was fed some flimsy legal arguments in 2002 to justify the "enhanced interrogation" techniques thought to be expedient at the time but which many people would see as torture.

Conveying the president's wishes to the CIA, Condi was acting as little more than a messenger, so don't shoot the messenger.

Condi also mentions that the authorization was subject to the Justice Department's clearance so if they cleared it, and they are the lawyers responsible then it is their fault for not giving better legal advice.

The Justice Department should have said "no way is waterboarding legal" and their failure to do so has brought us to this point.

It needs to be understood that the National Security Advisor job Condi was doing in 2002 has no executive command responsibilities.

Condi could not tell the CIA what to do because only the President gives the orders and only the Director of Central Intelligence, a.k.a. "the Director of the CIA", (then George Tenet), directed the CIA how to interrogate people.

Peter Dow,
Rice for President Yahoo Group

"Condoleezza Rice for President in 2012. Join this group of supporters from everywhere on the world wide web."

Posted by: peterdow | April 30, 2009 4:14 PM

"Asked whether waterboarding is torture, Rice replied emphatically: "We were told, nothing that violates our obligations under the Convention Against Torture. And so, by definition, if it was authorized by the president, it did not violate our obligations under the Conventions Against Torture.""

So because the president said it wasn't torture *by definition* it didn't violate our treaty obligations? Wouldn't what would or would not constitute torture be defined, rather, by the international accords to which the US is signatory? A president saying something isn't torture doesn't make it so. Rice's "reasoning" is a travesty.

What never seemed to occur to those in the previous administration making the argument that anything "legal" (as they alone defined it) that could be done to defend the US could and should be done, is that by taking that route we undermined the very essence of what we were defending-- a free, open and democratic society under the rule of law.

Posted by: mj64 | April 30, 2009 3:24 PM

Calling torture "enhanced interrogation" is akin to calling rape "mandatory copulation".

Any use of it should include the quote marks.

Posted by: pagun | April 30, 2009 2:41 PM

The Bush administration lost their souls somewhere along the way.

So, now we're down to:
As long as THEY don't define torture as "torture" it's not torture.

I HOPE this video goes viral.

And I'm sooooooooo glad these people no longer represent the USA.

Posted by: freespeak | April 30, 2009 2:22 PM

No she didn't! "Rice became riled when the student noted that the United States did not torture during World War II. "With all due respect, Nazi Germany never attacked the homeland of the United States," Rice shot back."

Did the Roosevelt Administration authorize torture of Japanese prisoners? They did attack the US. And the Nazis? Apparently they weren't so bad according to Rice. Disgusting.

Posted by: steveh46 | April 30, 2009 2:09 PM

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