Condi Rice: In Her Own Words

“No dear, you’re wrong … we did not torture anyone”

Did she really? Did the former National Security Adviser and the 66th Secretary of State really said all those things that are ricochetting around the blogosphere? Let’s see …

Um …that did not go down outstandingly well, did it? It spawned sparks around the net, here, here , here and here. Even former Nixon White House counsel John Dean waded in.

On Sunday, May 3rd at the Sixth and I Historic Synagogue, Dr. Rice was back on the public sphere, at the podium this time for the Yitzhak Rabin Memorial Lecture (h/t to CQ for the transcript, read it here).

In the Q&A after the lecture, she talked a bit about her professorial skills on that video taken by Stanford student, Reyna Garcia:

Dr. Rice:

“This is really hard, right? This is a very hard issue. And I think the debate about it is appropriate and I don’t have any problem debating it. I was asked this by a Stanford student, famously now, on YouTube. And I thought two things: I thought you know, good, we should be talking about this. I also thought I need to work on my professorial skills a little bit – I think I’ve been in Washington a little too long in the way that I talked to the student.”

Yes, she did say, “We were as deaf and dumb and blind on September 10th as you could possibly be.”

Dr. Rice:

“But I do think that it is important to do this in a context of remembering the times and in giving people the benefit of the doubt that these were people of good will – and I mean everybody who was doing this – who had the hardest possible dilemmas and choices before them. There were second-wave attacks planned. We knew virtually nothing about how al Qaeda operated. We were as deaf and dumb and blind on September 10th as you could possibly be.

Now, the president in that context – in that circumstance – said what more can we do to protect the country? But he was very clear every time I talked to him – every time he talked to any of us – but it has to be within our legal obligations – both our international obligations and our domestic obligations. That is why we saw an opinion from the Justice Department and ultimately, from the attorney general himself, about what our obligations were and what the agency was proposing and how – whether or not this was legal.”

And what she said earlier, this was what she meant, “This was not a Nixon/Frost moment.”

Dr. Rice:

“Now, there’s been another confusing statement – I said at one point that it was, therefore, a given that the president – if the president authorized it, it was legal. This was not a Nixon/Frost moment. What I intended to say or what I meant to say about this is, the president said I won’t authorize anything that is illegal. It’s not that because he authorized it, it was legal. No, that’s a tautology. It was that he said, I won’t authorize anything that’s illegal.

Dong ma?

There’s really not much to add except to say … ya know … the Chinese has a popular saying that goes like this, “More talk more mistakes, less talk less mistakes, no talk no mistake.”

Um … read the whole thing here (pdf), then sit back and wait for the next installment in this series. I’ll go watch Josh Whedon’s Dollhouse.