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We can’t blame Rice for all the Bush team’s failings

Students and faculty activists at the University of Minnesota are pressuring the university to rescind an invitation to former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to speak on campus April 17. Her appearance is part of the Humphrey School of Public Affairs’ “Distinguished Carlson Lecture Series.” Protesters cite Rice’s role in the Iraq War during the Bush’s administration and Rice’s reported $150,000 speaking fee.

Secretary Rice was just one of the Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz war-prone team that was part of the ineffective George W. Bush administration, and we can’t blame her for all of their failings.

Perhaps her most memorable quote occurred when she was pushing for the disastrous invasion of Iraq. Referring to Saddam Hussein, she told CBS News that “he was far, far closer to a crude nuclear device than anybody thought, maybe six months from a crude nuclear device.” The truth was that Saddam was bluffing and had no chance for that kind of mass destruction weapon.

President Bush and his officials are often accused of lying about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction in order to support the Iraq invasion. I suggest that they sincerely believed the nonsense they were promoting, being taken in by Saddam Hussein’s bluff.

If occasional ignorance disqualifies potential guest speakers, the University of Minnesota will be hard-pressed to find one.

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Comments (12)

  1. Submitted by Mac Riddel on 04/10/2014 - 10:38 am.

    $150,000 for a few hours of speaking from a failed former secretary of state? Wow, must be nice. And what a waste of money from the publicly funded university! If this wasteful spending is the norm, no wonder why it costs so much to get an education these days.

  2. Submitted by Dennis Litfin on 04/10/2014 - 12:48 pm.


    The only way that the Rice/Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld cabal could have ‘seriously believed the nonsense they were promoting’ was if they purposely had disregarded the many advance warnings of 911. Are those 4 people that ignorant ? I rather doubt it, and with that they willfully disrupted this Nation’s economy and livelihood to an extent that has not been seen for decades. With that fact, this woman should not be paid with taxpayer money so that she can continue to to spew her ‘justifications’ for the cabal’s fatal decisions.

  3. Submitted by Neal Rovick on 04/10/2014 - 12:51 pm.

    Saddams bluff??


    But if Iraqi officials were really interested in “convincing the world” that they had unconventional weapons, they certainly went about it in a strange way. When asked whether Iraq had unconventional weapons in late 2002 by Nightline’s Ted Koppel (12/4/02), Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz was clear: “The fact is that we don’t have weapons of mass destruction. We don’t have chemical, biological, or nuclear weaponry.” Several interviews with Aziz show him saying the same thing each time. Speaking to CBS’s Dan Rather (8/20/02), Aziz asserted that “we do not possess any nuclear or biological or chemical weapons.”

    (end quote)

    And the various inspectors who went through Iraq before the war found no WMD and no current capability of making WMD or a credible WMD delivery system. The quote from Rice goes on to imply the possibility of a mushroom cloud within 6 months.,

    The “Saddam bluff” is just another version of phoney justification–he made me attack him because I pretended he was a danger to me.

    Trayvon, anyone?

    Entirely made up justification, Rice included.

  4. Submitted by Charles Holtman on 04/10/2014 - 02:23 pm.

    Please, Mr Westgard.

    First, at the time the US launched the Iraq War, all reasonably informed people not inside the military-industrial bubble were well aware there were no WMDs and the rationale was trumped up. Mr Powell’s UN charade already had been exposed & each of his claims fully debunked. Any top administration official who participated in that enterprise without abandoning & renouncing it forfeited all moral and pedagogical authority, forever.

    Second, if, instead, Ms Rice truly had been ignorant, clearly such monumental ignorance, at the helm of so much death-dealing & harm unleashed, rightly causes one to question what wisdom Ms Rice could convey to us.

    Third, all else aside, what is the justification to pay $150K of the public’s money to Ms Rice? Astounding. I could arrange for 30 speakers who would be far more edifying on any subject you wish, and none of whom would ask for more than $5K.

    Finally, it should not escape notice that a purposeful Bush administration rehabilitation campaign is gathering force in advance of 2016, particularly in view of Jeb Bush’s possible candidacy. Declining Ms Rice’s offer to speak would not be a political act, it would be the opposite: refusing to assist a clear political strategy.

    • Submitted by rolf westgard on 04/10/2014 - 09:12 pm.

      Reply to Chuck

      FWIW I fully agree that paying anything to Rice is an overpayment. The issue of whether Saddam’s possession of yellowcake meant he was near to a nuclear weapon is a technical one. And one of the things that characterizes Bush officials is techniclal ignorance. That same ignorance applies to the MN legislature except for Phyliss Kahn.

  5. Submitted by Tom Anderson on 04/10/2014 - 08:51 pm.

    People! Please!

    Inform yourselves! No public money from the University is being used to pay Ms. Rice.

    • Submitted by Charles Holtman on 04/11/2014 - 11:24 am.

      Tom – Before commenting, I searched the HHI website

      and Googled for more than 10 minutes precisely to try to find this out. It was unavailing. So who is paying? (And of course the other arguments remain)

  6. Submitted by Don Grant on 04/11/2014 - 05:53 am.

    Rolf Westgard’s Letter

    “If occasional ignorance disqualifies potential guest speakers, the University of Minnesota will be hard-pressed to find one.”
    This “ignorance” was in her area of responsibility and she should be held responsible for the consequences of this “ignorance”, thousands of US and all of Iraq’s combatant’s deaths and woundings and the hundreds of thousands of the area’s civilian deaths and casualties.

    This directly rests on her hands and should disqualify her from this podium, $150, 000 of for free.

  7. Submitted by Harris Goldstein on 04/11/2014 - 09:53 am.


    The topic is “civil rights”. As a minority who reached high ranking positions, her perspective would be valuable. Arguably, her failures in those positions do not make her insights on civil rights less valuable.

    But $150,000? That’s $25,000 of insight and $125,000 of “celebrity”. It’s a poor use of funds, even if donor funds.

  8. Submitted by rolf westgard on 04/12/2014 - 08:54 am.

    To the Bush team and political scientist Rice

    If you had yellowcake, all you had to do was mix it to make a nuclear weapon.

  9. Submitted by chuck turchick on 04/14/2014 - 09:13 pm.

    What about torture?

    As National Security Advisor, Dr. Rice chaired the Principals Committee of the National Security Council. She makes it clear in her book, “No Higher Honor: A Memoir of My Years in Washington,” that chairing that committee was important to her. That was the committee that discussed interrogation techniques in detail and authorized what Major General Antonio Taguba called a “systematic regime of torture.”

    Dr. Rice has always said that these decisions were pending Justice Department approval, but again, her own book describes how she didn’t trust David Addington’s (Vice-President Cheney’s legal counsel) infestation of that “legal advice.”

    To characterize this portion of her record as “occasional ignorance” is to deny the facts.

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