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With creative ambiguity, Condoleezza Rice defends torture tactics

MinnPost photo by Craig Lassig
Cathy Murphy of St. Louis Park, center, was one of an estimated 100 protesters outside Northrop Auditorium during Dr. Rice's speech.

Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice didn’t mention torture in her brief visit to the University of Minnesota Thursday, but a lot of other people did, and Rice did perhaps discuss the issue with creative ambiguity and defend her role.

At noon, before Rice arrived on campus, Dr. Steve Miles of the U faculty accepted an award for his long service in the cause of human rights (including on the board of St. Paul-based the Center for Victims of Torture).

Miles said in his acceptance remarks that he had closely studied the Bush administration’s use of torture in the interrogation of prisoners in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks and concluded that Rice “had executive authority over a system of torture and rendition [and] I believe that she should be indicted and prosecuted for war crimes.”

In an interview after receiving the award from the Sullivan Ballou Fund, Miles said that by deciding and declaring that the emergency following the 9/11 attacks entitled the United States to disregard international law on the treatment of prisoners, the United States “destroyed the system of international law that had taken decades to build up.”

Basically, if one country can decide that a particular emergency situation entitles it to torture prisoners, then another country can do so too.

‘No Fee Speech’

Across campus, at Northrop Auditorium where Rice was scheduled to speak at 5 p.m., protesters waited to greet her with signs mostly affirming Miles’ view. “No Fee Speech for War Crimes,” one of the protest signs read, referring to the $150,000 Rice was to receive for her appearance. (It should perhaps be noted that the fee was paid with private money, not state or University funds.)

The protests outside of Northrop lasted for more than an hour but the turnout was low and mostly populated by gray-haired veterans of protests past. The level of participation by current U of M students was notably low and mostly organized by Students for a Democratic Society (SDS). “Say No to War; Say No to Condi” read one of the SDS signs. One of my favorites, because it was so long and complicated and had to be scrawled in relatively small letters, said: “War criminals can be feminine and even good pianists.” (In case you don’t know, Rice is an outstanding pianist.)

Several of the protesters wore orange jumpsuits and black hoods to evoke the prisoners who were subjected to “enhanced interrogation” techniques including waterboarding.

Finally, at 5 p.m. the event began, as part of a series honoring the 50th anniversary of the passage of the landmark Civil Rights Act. Rice, who grew up black in Birmingham, Ala., was a child when the law was signed. She described her own middle-class upbringing. Both parents were educators. But she recalled being unable to go into a restaurant. Her references to segregation and bigotry were mostly about discrimination against her ancestors, although she did say that the Civil Rights era was like a “second founding” of the United States.

Dr. Condoleezza Rice
MinnPost photo by Craig Lassig
Condoleezza Rice: “The work we have left to do is to make sure that aspiration is not ground out.”

I understand that some of the motivation to invite Rice was to ensure that the series on civil rights was not overly dominated by a liberal or Democratic perspective. But Rice didn’t offer much perspective on it at all. Along the way she mentioned that she is a Republican because, in part, she believes in “limited government.” She endorsed “federalism,” by which she meant stronger states and less Washington-centrism. She called for non-specific changes in immigration and criticized her party’s recent efforts to “insult large swaths of the populace and then hope that they don’t turn out to vote.”

Her talk meandered — but never meandered too near to what the protesters outside wanted to discuss. Today, she said, race is no longer disqualifying for those who have access to a good education, but because some schools are not so good, “the K-12 education crisis is the greatest threat we face as a country.”

“The work we have left to do is to make sure that aspiration is not ground out,” she said. (For some reason, Rice’s contract to give the talk prohibited recording, so the quotes in this piece rely on shorthand taken in the dark.)

Elephant in the room

The format allowed a few minutes after her opening remarks for Rice to take questions from Eric Schwartz, dean of the  U of M’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs. (The Humphrey School organized the series on the Civil Rights Act anniversary.) I know that some critics of the Rice invitation were counting on Schwartz to bring up the elephant in the room — the torture issue.

He may have meant to, but he actually didn’t, at least not in way that put much pressure on her to call the elephant by its name. He offered her an opportunity to expand on some comments she had made in her memoir of the George W. Bush years (during which she served as national security adviser and secretary of state).

In the memoir, Schwartz said, Rice wrote that she was glad that the administration had ultimately moved its policy for treating prisoners of the Global War On Terror in a “more sustainable” way.

What did that mean, Schwartz asked, which I took to be an invitation to say anything about the elephant that she wanted to say.

In the immediate aftermath of 9/11, the administration was terrified that another attack might be coming, Rice said. In order to prevent such a follow-up attack, the president asked about the legality of certain measures that he was considering taking, Rice said. This surely was a reference to waterboarding and other “enhanced interrogation” techniques, but Rice didn’t specify as much. If you wanted to fill in the blanks for her, which shouldn’t be necessary, but if you wanted to, you would say that she was hinting that certain things of arguable legality were done out of a desperate desire to head off the next attack.

There are laws, and legal advice given to presidents by attorneys general, and Congress can pass more laws and the courts can interpret them, Rice said, or something along those lines. And a country like the United States, in which Osama bin Laden’s driver (Salim Hamdan) could have his conviction overturned, shouldn’t have to take any criticism from others (she mentioned Europeans) about whether it (the USA) respects the rule of law. (Rice was interrupted by applause for that remark.)

But by 2005 (the year Rice moved from NSA to secretary of state), the day-to-day panic was lessened. Al Qaida was on the run and diminished in its potential to mount a serious new attack, she said. It seemed possible to “unravel” some of the questionable tactics and policies that had been pursued in immediate post-Twin Towers power. She said she advocated for some of these changes, often on the other side from Vice President Dick Cheney, and she won some of the arguments. Rice quoted herself as having told President Bush that “the United States doesn’t disappear people.” (This also drew applause.)

That’s as close as Rice came to discussing the torture issue.

Comments (50)

  1. Submitted by Paul Brandon on 04/18/2014 - 09:35 am.


    “For some reason, Rice’s contract to give the talk prohibited recording”

    The reason should be pretty obvious: deniability.
    If there is no recording of what she said, she can always claim to have been misquoted, and rephrase her statements in light of criticism.

  2. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 04/18/2014 - 09:56 am.

    Interesting incident

    First, I had no idea Students for a Democratic Society still existed. I thought it was a bygone relic of my college days.

    Second, I’d argue that there’s no “perhaps” to the necessity of mentioning that the funding to pay for her speech came from a private rather than a public source.

    I say that because I’m inclined to agree with the protesters to the extent that I’d say Ms. Rice is, to use the legal term, “culpable” in violating international law by, if not actually administering the torture herself, nonetheless giving the official approval (or perhaps off-the-record unofficial approval) to use techniques like waterboarding. She was one of, if not “the” responsible parties involved. In similar fashion, no matter who was winning the arguments in the East Room of the White House, my own sentiment is that Dick Cheney should be in prison not only for violating international law in the case of torture and rendition, but also for treason in the matter of the “outing” of CIA agent Valerie Plame.

    While “applaud” may be too strong a term, I nonetheless agree with the Humphrey School’s decision to include someone not of the liberal persuasion as part of the series of speeches on civil rights, and along those lines, I have to part ways with the protesters. The First Amendment means nothing if it has the effect of silencing the speech I – or anyone else – don’t want to hear. Had he been asked, I’d say the same thing if it had been Dick Cheney who’d been invited to speak. I think Cheney is an ethics-free traitor, but he’s been able to manipulate the legal system and distract the public’s attention, and if someone wanted to pay him to deliver a speech under the auspices of the Humphrey School, I’d support it, though it might make me privately gag.

    Beyond that constitutional point, I’d also argue that it’s a pretty poor university education if, at the end of it, a student has never heard in some official way like this an opinion and policy explanation with which s/he totally disagrees. The whole point of education is to broaden horizons, not narrow them. Ms. Rice’s appearance, at least for those attending, should have done that, if nothing else.

    • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 04/18/2014 - 11:32 am.

      The First Amendment

      applies only to -government- suppression of free speech, not to private venues.
      If you regard the U as a branch of the state government (legally defensible) AND that this applies even when the U rents its facilities to a private party (less clear), THEN you might make a case that the First Amendment applies.
      ‘Free Speech’ has become a part of our culture; beyond being a constitutional right.

    • Submitted by Charles Holtman on 04/18/2014 - 01:49 pm.

      Ray, you’re too fair and balanced.

      This whole thing has not the slightest connection to free speech. If the UMn maintained a speaker’s corner, and let everyone but Ms Rice get up on the wooden box, yes that would be an improper denial of free speech. This is about the UMn conferring its imprimatur on the dishonest and expedient Ms Rice as an exemplar of morality and wisdom, and the particular absurdity of selecting a chief architect of the global expansion of torture legitimation to speak on civil rights. Also, if the obscene fee of $150K was paid from a UMn endowment, even if privately contributed, it is a public spending issue, unless the UMn is permitted no role in deciding how its endowment will be used (which seems quite unlikely).

      Otherwise, Ray, let’s be reminded of something so obvious that we cease even to observe it: During the years of the previous administration, no point of view other than that of Ms Rice and Mr Cheney was permitted. Those who questioned were condemned as traitors and subject to threat. More broadly, for the past 40 years, the parameters of public discourse have been set and vigorously patrolled by the military-industrial-national security complex that Ms. Rice represents, through Republican and Democratic administrations both. The architects of the Iraq invasion continue to trot around the Sunday talk shows in pursuit of their rehabilitation, with nary a principled critic allowed close enough to disturb the effort. This is the context against which thoughtful university faculty need to battle when seeking to cultivate a capacity for critical thinking in the malleable minds before them. Meaning no disrespect, your last paragraph is just silly.

    • Submitted by Peder DeFor on 04/18/2014 - 04:03 pm.


      “Beyond that constitutional point, I’d also argue that it’s a pretty poor university education if, at the end of it, a student has never heard in some official way like this an opinion and policy explanation with which s/he totally disagrees. The whole point of education is to broaden horizons, not narrow them. Ms. Rice’s appearance, at least for those attending, should have done that, if nothing else.”

      This is a depressingly rare sentiment these days.

  3. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 04/18/2014 - 10:00 am.


    First you ignore the warnings and focus on non-existent North Korean missiles, then you panic? And no one resigned. Now we know what Roosevelt meant when he said: “All we have to fear is fear itself”.

    Rice and many others are war criminals, and some of them may live long enough to be prosecuted. Is this their defense? We panicked?

    • Submitted by Steve Titterud on 04/18/2014 - 11:50 am.

      Keep Fear Alive

      “Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the peacemakers for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country.”

      – Herr Reichsmarshall Hermann Goering

      However, this could stand as a pretty good approximation of what the Bush administration did in response to 9/11, and Obama and his cohort continue to this day. In 2011, of course, there was a real attack. But the dynamics are the same whether there is an attack underway or not, a real threat or not, mere hints or even fabricated reports of attacks or suspicions.

      It’s not so much that Bush, Cheney, Rice, and company panicked – but rather that they could easily manipulate policy by exploiting the panic of the American people. Obama is still playing the same hand.

      So it’s become our way of life here in the security state. You’ve seen those signs scattered around town that tell you to “Report Suspicious Activity”, haven’t you ? Those are courtesy of Homeland Security, the NSA, etc. It’s no longer “Keep Hope Alive”, it’s “Keep Fear Alive”.

  4. Submitted by David Frenkel on 04/18/2014 - 10:39 am.

    stuck to prepared comments

    Rice has a compelling story about her youth growing up in the south which is why she was invited. Not sure why she wondered off the script to talk about the more controversial part of her life that will be her legacy of being part of a miss guided administration.

  5. Submitted by Ron Gotzman on 04/18/2014 - 10:50 am.

    Fair and Balanced?

    The “war criminal” standard that so many apply tenaciously to Dr. Rice will hopefully be applied with equal scrutiny to the current administration.

  6. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 04/18/2014 - 11:13 am.


    If you want to read a truly compelling and enlightening civil rights story I suggest: “Best of Enemies” by Osha Gray Davidson. It’s a true story about a black woman and Klansman struggling with segregation and desegregation over the course of 20 years who became friends in the process. It’s one of the most enlightening 300 pages I’ve ever read.

    Rice’s story about how she ended up committing war crimes may be compelling but your not going to get an honest account from her in any event, and it has little to with promoting civil rights. Tyrants always justify their tyranny.

  7. Submitted by Neal Rovick on 04/18/2014 - 11:16 am.

    So how did that “limited government” and “federalism” work out in Alabama for her family in the pre-Civil Rights Act era?

    And how does that square with her comments?


    “Let me ask you, though, today, when I can look at your zip code and can tell whether you are going to get a good education -– can I really say that it doesn’t matter where you came from, it matters where you are going?

    (end quote)

    Damaged goods.

  8. Submitted by rolf westgard on 04/18/2014 - 11:51 am.

    The wrong failing

    I suggest we are making too much of the torture issue. IMO the major blunder of the Bush admin was invading Iraq, and Rice played a role in that fiasco with her ‘mushroom cloud’ and statements about imminent nuclear weapons.
    Like the rest of the technically ignorant Bushies, she thought having yellowcake meant that you could produce a deliverable nuclear weapons. It is OK not to know; not so OK not to ask; and worse to take major policy actions on ignorance.

    • Submitted by Neal Rovick on 04/18/2014 - 12:20 pm.

      Making the world safe for torture….

      The Bush administration gave a big “get out of jail free” to every government around the world that has a “crisis” that requires “extraordinary methods” to deal with those “threats”.

      911 was an evil act, but in the scale of the US population and economy it was a bee sting.

      The changes wrought in this country are far more significant in scale and were long-term damaging to laws, reputation, prestige and power of the US.

      And the legalizing of torture is a big part of that.

      • Submitted by Lance Groth on 04/18/2014 - 01:12 pm.

        Well said

        Either principles mean something or they don’t. Ditto with laws and treaties. If society holds that torture is out of bounds – and it ought to, for reasons of enlightened self interest if not morality – then you can’t allow a little of it and still hold to the principle. You can’t have a little bit of honor, any more than a woman can be a little bit pregnant. You either are or you aren’t. You have honor or you don’t.

        Embracing torture as part of the intelligence gathering toolkit is a black stain on the honor of the United States.

        Stupid, too, as it is not a reliable source of information gathering. Not to mention that it undercuts any basis we have to complain when Americans are tortured by foreign forces. Panic is a feeble excuse.

    • Submitted by James Hamilton on 04/18/2014 - 01:03 pm.

      Time will tell

      whether Iraq was a “blunder” or a calculated effort on the part of some to mislead the American public.

      If the former, then it was not only a blunder on the part of the Bush administration but on the part of the two-thirds of Americans who supported the decision to conduct a terror campaign of bombing the Iraqi people into submission and then invading the ruins. The threshold question under international law was whether at the time we began our attack, Iraq posed an imminent threat of harm to the U.S. Even if Iraq had possessed each of the weapons claimed, there was no evidence that the existence of such weapons posed any immediate threat to us.

      If the latter, then those culpable should be brought to trial.

      The use of torture, defined in the Geneva Convention as “any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession”, is a separate issue and one not confined to Iraq.

      At a minimum, we violated the spirit of international law both in invading Iraq and in torturing captives, whether one wants to call them “enemy combatants”, soliders or civilians. In doing so, we exhausted whatever moral capital we’d accumulated over the last one hundred years. It was this I would have liked Rice to address, along with her thoughts on how it can be regained.

      • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 04/18/2014 - 01:39 pm.

        Time has told

        We know there no WMDS, and both UN agencies were responsible for monitoring those programs in Iraq testified that there was no evidence of ongoing WMD programs PRIOR to our invasion. That’s why Bush gave up on asking for a UN resolution. This was a war of choice, it was a war of aggression, it was illegal, and it was a crime that killed over a million Iraqi people. You can talk about getting rid of Saddam if you want but that just pegs it as an illegal war because regime change is illegal war.

        And Rolph is correct, THIS is Rice’s big crime.

        “If the former, then it was not only a blunder on the part of the Bush administration but on the part of the two-thirds of Americans who supported the decision to conduct a terror campaign of bombing the Iraqi people into submission and then invading the ruins. ”

        According to international law the countries leadership is responsible, not the population. I’d say you have a point regarding public opinion were it not for the complete failure our press corps prior to the invasion and the deliberate misinformation flowing out of the White House. Remember Rices’s mushroom cloud remark? That was calculated fear and war mongering directed at a population that was still reeling from the Sept. 11 2001 attacks. Yes, the Democrats were lame, but only the president is the commander and chief.

        Someday, someone is going to issue arrest warrants for some of these people and Rice is near the top of the list.

        • Submitted by James Hamilton on 04/19/2014 - 10:53 am.

          You seem to be reading a bit into my post.

          Nowhere did I attempt to justify our attack on Iraq, on any grounds, much less regime change.

          As for the public: the one-third of the public who opposed the war (myself included) had no more information than did those who supported it, though I’d venture to say we paid more attention to it than did those who blindly followed the Bush administration’s lead. Whether we are culpable under international law is irrelevant to my point. We are morally culpable. Had the majority of our citizens opposed the war, it would not have happened.

          • Submitted by Charles Holtman on 04/20/2014 - 09:49 am.

            James, just a note

            It’s not worth redredging at this point, but yes those who opposed the war had more information than those who didn’t. First, they were resistant to the clear falsehoods of which the administration and establishment media had convinced the public thru sheer repetition (e.g., Saddam’s expulsion of IAEA inspectors). Second, in the run-up, IAEA representatives were speaking & western intelligence (U.S., British, Australian, even Israeli) were leaking like crazy to try to stem the U.S. will to invasion, but if you got your news only from the establishment media, you didn’t know any of it.

            As to whether the majority supported the war, I suppose we could go back & review the polls, but I recall quite clearly that as the date for the invasion approached, the WMD justification had substantially crumbled & the public was not at all with the administration to the extent the administration wanted. I recall quite distinctly that it was just one week before the invasion when the establishment and the media suddenly rolled out the “bringing democracy to Iraq” rationale. It was on the sudden burst of public euphoria associated with that new expression of purpose that the invasion commenced. So if one corrects for that phenomenon, I don’t think its at all clear that the public supported the war.

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 04/18/2014 - 02:08 pm.

      The torture issue is a big thing; in fact, it could be said that it is the biggest thing. Torturers have been held by at least one court to be enemies of all humanity, putting them on a legal par with pirates.

  9. Submitted by Dennis Tester on 04/18/2014 - 12:46 pm.


    In a wussified society that views putting underwear on a prisoner’s head as torture, it’s understandable that you would view having cold water splashed in your face as torture also. But if that’s the case, every submarine sailor, like myself, who ever experienced the Blue Nose initiation for crossing the Artic Circle can be considered to be victims of torture as well.

    And the truth is, during wartime, international law is whatever the United States says it is. Ask Harry Truman. Or Barack Obama, as far as that goes.

    • Submitted by Steve Hoffman on 04/22/2014 - 01:39 pm.

      Only until it’s you

      Waterboarding? Torture? Nonsense! — say many armchair critics who’ve never undergone it. Tell you what, Mr Tester, how about if you volunteer to undergo a standard waterboarding procedure, to be videotaped and released on YouTube, and then afterward you can tell us it isn’t torture?

      I notice that Sean Hannity has boldly offered to undergo this, but he’s never actually gotten around to doing it.

      How ironic that during WWII and the Korean War, we made the clear distinction that THEY are the people who start wars and torture people and WE are on the other side. Alas, America.

  10. Submitted by Jean Schiebel on 04/18/2014 - 01:28 pm.

    Torture,,no excuses

    We executed Japanese for lesser crimes,,Condoleeza rice is just as guilty as anyone in the Bush administration,,maybe if she had spoke up we wouldn’t have endangered our own young people.

  11. Submitted by chuck turchick on 04/18/2014 - 04:21 pm.

    Dr. Rice’s book

    Dr. Rice’s 2011 book, “No Higher Honor: A Memoir of My Years in Washington,” has 714 pages. The word “torture” is not in it. In the 24-page Index, there are no entries for “torture,” “enhanced interrogation techniques,” “interrogation techniques, enhanced,” or “Geneva Conventions.”

  12. Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 04/18/2014 - 08:25 pm.

    Real things

    “Basically, if one country can decide that a particular emergency situation entitles it to torture prisoners, then another country can do so too,” says Eric. Well, some countries have decided that long ago and some groups like cutting people’s heads off; America’s actions will have no bearing on those people.

    I also noticed that the speaking fee was mentioned several times, and always negatively. I just wonder: Did previous speakers do it for free?

    Of course, the motivation to invite Rice was to ensure that there are some other points of view presented beside liberal ones which we all know by now (Bush lied, kids died; racism is what drives republican voters, and Obama and Holder are the best in the world (never mind the drones). Fortunately, there are some people in the U of M who think that it is possible to have a different point of view and it should be presented (and most of those grey-haired protesters think that their point of view is the only one deserving to be heard). Again, I am encouraged that few students showed up – maybe they do learn some life lessons.

    A few more comments: “During Bush years no points of view other than [administration’s] were permitted.” Every single newspaper pounded Bush for anything and everything – do we remember anything?

    “Tyrants always justify their tyranny.” Are we talking about current administration? Spying, drones? I actually support those measures but for most of the writers here they should be anathema… Yet, they adore Obama (with few exceptions).

    “Like the rest of the technically ignorant Bushies, she thought having yellowcake meant that you could produce a deliverable nuclear weapons.” I guess intelligence of dozens of countries was also ignorant because they all supported Bush’s assessment (actually, they provided it to him).

    And finally, Iraq war was a success – won decisively, quickly, and with very little losses. The mistake was to stay there after victories but that is another matter. Imagine a person who goes to college to get a degree. Then, while in college, he starts drinking and goes to jail. Does it mean that his decision to go to college was wrong? Let’s start distinguishing things a little better.

  13. Submitted by Neal Rovick on 04/18/2014 - 08:41 pm.


    She verbally agreed to allow the methods to be used on Abu Zubaydah, an al-Qaeda suspect, in July 2002, a Senate report has revealed.
    Miss Rice’s role was outlined in a narrative released by the Senate Intelligence Committee as the controversy over alleged torture by the CIA continued to rage….

    ….The new timeline suggests Miss Rice played a more significant role than she acknowledged in written testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee submitted in the autumn….

    …According to the new timeline, drawn up from legal advice given to the CIA by the Bush administration, Miss Rice personally conveyed the Bush administration’s approval for waterboarding of Zubaydah to George Tenet, then CIA Director, in July 2002….

    ….In the autumn, Miss Rice stated to the Senate Armed Services Committee that she had attended meetings where the CIA interrogation request was discussed but could not recall details.

    Days after Miss Rice spoke to Mr Tenet, the Justice Department approved the use of waterboarding in a top secret memo. Abu Zubaydah was subjected to waterboarding some 83 times in August 2002….

  14. Submitted by Jon Kingstad on 04/18/2014 - 08:47 pm.

    Free speech

    Is Dr. Condoleeza Rice a war criminal? Is Dick Cheney? Is George W. Bush? To paraphrase Robert McNamara, if our side hadn’t won the war, they would have been tried and hanged as such just as Saddam Hussein ultimately was.

    To me, Rice, Bush, Cheney, Woo and the rest exemplify what Hannah Arendt called the “banality of evil”. The embodiment of this banality of evil for Arendt was Adolph Eichman. Rice, Bush, Cheney, Woo and the rest of the neocon true believers are no different than Eichman. They are people who do evil because they are “following orders” or because they have some other lame, invalid excuse.

    Do we have a right to judge people like Rice? I believe not. Even if their actions are indeed evil. Nevertheless, I think the protest of Rice’s speech as an offering in a series on civil rights was well taken. It was poor judgment for whomever made it to offer Rice a speaking platform in this series, even if she was willing to make it for free.

    • Submitted by Marcia Wattson on 04/20/2014 - 08:25 am.


      To pay $150,000 for anyone, especially someone as questionable a choice as Rice, and not even have recording rights is astonishing. What I would like a recording of is the discussion at the Carlson foundation regarding whom to invite that resulted in this mind-boggling decision. Private money or not, this seems highly irresponsible and indefensible. Once again we are reminded that we live in a world run by oligarchs.

  15. Submitted by Jeffrey Swainhart on 04/19/2014 - 06:59 am.


    For those who need a little brush up on their recent history. Here’s a timeline on our involvement in the Iraq war.

  16. Submitted by Steve Rose on 04/19/2014 - 09:34 am.

    The man Jon Stewart calls …

    The man Jon Stewart calls “Barry Bombs” is our President Obama.

    The estimated five year death toll is 2400, including 200 children and some other civilians too.

    Only after he is held accountable, will I be interested in hearing about smaller players committing lesser crimes.

    • Submitted by jason myron on 04/19/2014 - 05:22 pm.

      Talk about cognitive dissonance

      do you people even acknowledge George Bush was once President? It’s like you live in some sort of parallel universe. No wonder the GOP is reduced to being a punch line.

      • Submitted by Steve Rose on 04/19/2014 - 06:43 pm.

        The Punch Line

        Actually, “Barry Bombs” is the punch line.

        Yes Bush was President, and now Obama is President. Those that demanded President Bush accountability are uber-willing to give President Obama a pass. Why?

        This whole civil rights kerfuffle is about politics and fanning the flames of Bush hatred.

      • Submitted by Steve Rose on 04/20/2014 - 08:42 pm.

        The Punch Line

        Actually, “Barry Bombs” is the punch line.

        Cognitive dissonance is another name for voter’s remorse. It occurs when the guy you voted for is guilty of misdeeds worse than those you are railing against. Priceless.

        When “you people” call out your President for his civil rights violation past and present, I will be willing to listen to criticism of smaller players and their lesser crimes.

        • Submitted by Jonathan Ecklund on 04/21/2014 - 12:21 pm.

          So, 2,400 dead in drone-strikes are misdeeds greater than the 1,000,000 or so dead in Iraq? I’m not defending drone warfare here, but I am asking you directly if you believe that twenty-five hundred murders is a worse crime than a million murders.

          • Submitted by Steve Rose on 04/22/2014 - 02:44 pm.

            A Comparison with Saddam Hussein?

            “According to The New York Times, “he [Saddam] murdered as many as a million of his people, many with poison gas. He tortured, maimed and imprisoned countless more. His unprovoked invasion of Iran is estimated to have left another million people dead. His seizure of Kuwait threw the Middle East into crisis. More insidious, arguably, was the psychological damage he inflicted on his own land. Hussein created a nation of informants — friends on friends, circles within circles — making an entire population complicit in his rule”.


            An civil right violator of epic proportions! Who wouldn’t stand down to let him proceed?

            • Submitted by Todd Hintz on 04/24/2014 - 12:31 pm.


              You keep avoiding the issue of how many people were directly killed, maimed, and displaced by our invasion. Why is that?

              • Submitted by Steve Rose on 04/24/2014 - 01:42 pm.

                When was that issue raised? Are you raising it now?

                Quote from Mr. Ecklund’s statement above,

                “So, 2,400 dead in drone-strikes are misdeeds greater than the 1,000,000 or so dead in Iraq?”

                Due to the death toll stated by Mr. Ecklund, I am left to conclude that we are talking about the saddam hussein death toll, as sources like the Huffington Post (link below) put the Iraqi death toll since the U.S. invasion at a number half that.


                • Submitted by Charles Holtman on 04/24/2014 - 02:06 pm.

                  Well, how about we just add together

                  your 1M and Mr Ecklund’s 1M (more or less), since the casualties you cite were accumulated with U.S. connivance, materiel and, to put it mildly, a good deal of “standing down.” By the time of the 2003 invasion, they were historical facts, not events ongoing or imminent.

                  • Submitted by Steve Rose on 04/24/2014 - 05:00 pm.

                    In Round Numbers, That Math Works

                    In light of these facts, who in Washington should be allowed to visit the U of M to lecture on civil rights?

                    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 04/25/2014 - 12:56 pm.

                      If not her, who?

                      Perhaps someone with actual experience of the civil rights movement. Dr. Rice was born in 1954, and, by her own accounts, shielded from the worst effects of Jim Crow by her parents. She was 10 years old when the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed, and 11 when the Voting Rights Act came down.

                      If it’s a conservative perspective we’re after, I would suggest Clarence Thomas (although I’m told he limits his public appearances to pre-screened friendly fora).

                    • Submitted by Steve Rose on 04/25/2014 - 01:44 pm.

                      Nothing to Offer?

                      I think a black woman born in 1954 and growing up in the South might have something to offer on the topic of civil rights. I doubt her parents kept her in a bubble. Though she was ten when the Civil Rights Act passed Congress, on the strength of Republican votes, the struggle was hardly over in 1964.

                      From the Minnesota Daily on March 31:

                      “Humphrey spokesman Kent Love-Ramirez said Rice will talk about overcoming adversity as an African-American woman who faced discrimination growing up in the southern U.S. The topic is consistent with the school’s yearlong series “Keeping Faith with a Legacy of Justice: The 50th Anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.””

                    • Submitted by Charles Holtman on 04/25/2014 - 11:53 am.

                      Almost no one.

                      To attain elected or high appointed office in the federal government, regardless of party, the most important part of the skill set is the capacity to comfort the comfortable, which tends to prioritize facilitating private rent-taking from the public commons over creating equal opportunity for the common folk.

    • Submitted by Neal Rovick on 04/19/2014 - 08:29 pm.

      Precedence….Gosh, I wonder


      Gosh, I wonder who set up the “legal” and practical precedent for all of Obummer’s violations?

      And I wonder which party has been after him as being weak if he seems to be unwilling to continue those violations?

      And, I seem to remember some recent non-war in a country that didn’t attack us where hundreds of thousands of civilians died through our actions.

      But hey, we’re all getting older and not remembering as well.

      • Submitted by Steve Rose on 04/21/2014 - 11:05 am.

        Speak for yourself and what you remember

        We all understand that the Obama administration is not the first presidency; nor was the Bush administration. That said, let’s not pretend that he rate of drone attacks has not increased greatly during the Obama administration.

        At some point during the second and final Obama term, the Obama apologists and the President himself should step away from the Bush blaming and accept some responsibility. Else, his legacy will be limited to Obamacare and Bush-blaming.

  17. Submitted by john milton on 04/20/2014 - 10:36 am.

    Condi at the UofM

    I was distressed that the UofM went ahead with the speech by Condoleeza Rice as part of its recognition of the 50th anniversary of the civil rights laws. I object to this event because: a) Condi Rice played absolutely no part in the civil rights struggle of the 1960s and 1970s, b) her support for torture places her at odds with the spirit of HUBERT HUMPHREY, whose name is on the institute sponsoring the event, c) recordings were prohibited, d) no Q and A to follow her speech, e) a lame excuse for the sponsorship: that it was paid for by private funds, f) the critical need for “balance” — presumably to counter “the rhetoric of the lefties and commies.” Once again, the UofM has upheld one of its proud traditions: M for Mediocrity.
    — John Watson Milton, Afton MN

  18. Submitted by Jim Phillips on 04/20/2014 - 01:17 pm.

    Correction to photo cutline

    Re the photo cutline, Cathy Murphy is from St Louis Park MN, not St Louis MO. I know. She’s my wife.

  19. Submitted by Steve Hoffman on 04/20/2014 - 04:20 pm.


    Has Ms. Rice yet volunteered to be publicly waterboarded, to prove that it’s not torture? That would answer the question pretty quickly. Of course, I believe Sean Hannity volunteered to do that years ago but has yet to come through. Guess it’s only ‘torture’ when it’s happening to oneself, and not to other people’s loved ones.

    • Submitted by Steve Rose on 04/21/2014 - 06:49 am.

      Volunteer water boarding has been done and televised

      I viewed the TV broadcast of a journalist being water boarded. If interested, there are several volunteer waterboardings you can watch on youtube.

      What youtube does not have is a clip of anyone being the volunteer target of a drone attack.

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