Condoleezza Rice

From SourceWatch
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Condi Rice

Dr. Condoleezza Rice was the U.S. Secretary of State in the second term of President George W. Bush. Previously, Rice became Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs, commonly referred to as the National Security Advisor, on January 22, 2001, under President Bush. She is the second African-American to serve as National Security Advisor and the first woman to hold that office.

In March 2009, Rice returned to Stanford University in California, and its Hoover Institution. "Her new role on campus will start less formally, with guest lectures, seminars and personal writing projects," including two books for which she reportedly has "a $2.5 million contract with Crown Publishers." Rice plans to teach courses on "international politics, with a focus on decision-making. Specifically, she seeks to teach 'decision simulation,' where students are pressed to think about real-life questions and choices and not just abstract policy. She told the campus newsletter Stanford Report that she would enjoy teaching a simulation of the Russian invasion of Georgia." [1]

Foreign Policy 101, the "Officious Website of President George W. Bush," has posted "Foreign Policy 101 with Secretary-Doctor-Professor Condoleezza Rice", complete with documentation links.

Packaging a Presidential Candidate

"Despite the time-worn diplomatic formula of quiet airport greetings by often-dour foreign ministers," U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has been welcomed by a falconer (with bird) in Kyrgyzstan, a sumo wrestling champion in Japan, and athlete Nadia Comaneci in Romania. Rice's "rock star status ... has been one result of a deliberate strategy," writes Joel Brinkley in the New York Times. [1]

Jim Wilkinson, one of Rice's senior aides, organizes her "image-making events," "serves as a gatekeeper" for people "who want to see her," and "is constantly looking out for image-making opportunities." The resulting buzz has fueled speculation that Rice will run for president in 2008, though she denies any "interest in running." One result of this focus on image is that Rice's appearances have been "skewed towards broadcast media. In October and November [2005] she gave 22 interviews to television and radio stations and only 3 to newspapers and magazines." [2]

At least one 527 political organization, Americans for Dr. Rice, has been formed with the goal of drafting Dr. Rice for U.S. presidential election, 2008. Several television and radio spots have been aired in Iowa, New Hampshire, Washington, DC, and Miami. [3]


Born November 14, 1954, in Birmingham, Alabama, during segregation, Rice claims her childhood taught her determination against adversity, and the need to be "twice as good" as non-minorities. She earned her bachelor's degree in political science, cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa, from the University of Denver in 1974 (where she enrolled at the age of 15); her master's degree from the University of Notre Dame in 1975; and her Ph.D. from the Graduate School of International Studies at the University of Denver in 1981. While in Denver, Dr. Rice attended a course on international politics taught by Josef Korbel. The course sparked her interest in the Soviet Union and international relations, leading her to call Korbel "one of the most central figures in my life." Rice joined the faculty of Stanford University in 1981 and became a tenured professor of political science. At Stanford, she was a member of the Center for International Security and Arms Control, Senior Fellow of the Institute for International Studies and between 1985 and 1986 a national fellow at the Hoover Institution. In 1986, while an international affairs fellow of the Council on Foreign Relations, Rice served as Special Assistant to the Director of the Joint Chiefs of Staff where she worked on nuclear strategic planning. [4]

From 1989 through March 1991 (the period of the fall of Berlin wall and the final days of the Soviet Union), she served in the George Herbert Walker Bush Administration as Director, and then Senior Director, of Soviet and East European Affairs in the National Security Council, and as a Special Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs. In this position, she helped formulate the strategy of President Bush and Secretary James A. Baker III in favor of German reunification and "helped bring democratic reforms to Poland, and played a vital role in crafting many of the Bush administration's policies with the former Soviet Union." She so impressed President Bush that he introduced her to Mikhail Gorbachev as the one who "tells me everything I know about the Soviet Union."

After working for Bush senior she returned to Stanford in 1991. In 1993 she was appointed Stanford Provost, becoming the youngest person in the position as well as first woman and first non-white. She held the position until 1999.

The White House's official biographical note on Rice states that she was a member of the board of directors for the Chevron Corporation, the boards of the Charles Schwab Corporation, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the University of Notre Dame, the International Advisory Council of J.P. Morgan and the San Francisco Symphony Board of Governors.

Chevron named an oil tanker Condoleezza Rice after her but later quietly renamed it Altair Voyager. Rice explained on Fox News Sunday that Chevron had a policy of naming tankers after its Directors. Rice was a Director of Chevron from 1991 to 2001. "We made the change to eliminate the unnecessary attention caused by the vessel's original name," Chevron's spokesman, Fred Gorell, told the San Francisco Chronicle. (Rice joins Carla Hills with this dubious homage by Chevron).

In 2001, at a meeting with European Union Ambassadors in Washington, D.C. it was Rice who delivered the news that as far as the U.S. was concerned "Kyoto is dead."

In 1997, she served on the Federal Advisory Committee on Gender -- Integrated Training in the Military. She was also a "Founding Board member of the Center for a New Generation, an educational support fund for schools in East Palo Alto and East Menlo Park and was Vice President of the Boys and Girls Club of the Peninsula. In addition, her past board service has encompassed such organizations as Transamerica Corporation, Hewlett Packard, the Carnegie Corporation, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, the Rand Corporation, the National Council for Soviet and East European Studies, the Mid-Peninsula Urban Coalition and KQED, public broadcasting for San Francisco," her biographical note states.

Christian media report that her strong religious beliefs are an important influence on her thinking on major policy issues. According to the New York Times, Rice said that she did not intend to continue in her position even if Bush were to win a second term.

Dr. Rice is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and has been awarded honorary doctorates from Morehouse College in 1991, the University of Alabama in 1994, the University of Notre Dame in 1995 and the Mississippi College School of Law in 2003.

National Security Advisor 2000-2004

Highlights of Dr. Rice's record during this period have been recalled by Sen. Robert C. Byrd in his 60-minute address on January 25, 2005, during U.S. Senate hearings on the Rice nomination to Secretary of State; notably her "failure to protect our country before the tragic attacks of September 11, her public efforts to politicize intelligence, and her often stated allegiance to the doctrine of preemption." [5]

Sen. Barbara Boxer also provided a recounting of Dr. Rice's record during the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on January 18, 2005.

Statements About Al Qaeda and the War on Terrorism

In the week after the September 11 attacks, then Secretary of State Colin Powell told Newsweek that Rice's view was to go after not just Al Qaeda but also the 'rogue' states suspected of harbouring weapons of mass destruction. [6]

On the CBS program, Face the Nation in March 2003, Rice claimed the links between al-Qaida and the Iraqi regime were indisputable. "Now the al-Qaida is an organization that's quite disbursed and--and quite widespread in its effects, but it clearly has had links to the Iraqis, not to mention Iraqi links to all kinds of other terrorists. And what we do not want is the day when Saddam Hussein decides that he's had enough of dealing with sanctions, enough of dealing with, quote, unquote, 'containment,' enough of dealing with America, and it's time to end it on his terms, by transferring one of these weapons, just a little vial of something, to a terrorist for blackmail or for worse."

Later that year, in September, Rice was still insisting that the links had existed despite the lack of evidence being found. "No one has said that there is evidence that Saddam Hussein directed or controlled 9/11, but let's be very clear, he had ties to al-Qaeda, he had al-Qaeda operatives who had operated out of Baghdad," she claimed on NBC's Meet the Press program. [7]

A critical observer noted that under her watch as National Security Advisor:

  • The prophetic August 6, 2001, President's Daily Briefing Memo ("PDB") got shuffled to the bottom of Bush's "Things to Do" list. That's the historic briefing which, in press conferences and interviews after 9/11, she called "too vague" to foresee any imminent terrorist danger. Actually, that PDB had directly predicted the high probability that the al Qaeda would soon highjack airliners and attack the U.S.

Statements About Iraq

In January 2000, as candidate George W. Bush's foreign policy adviser, Rice penned a paper for Foreign Affairs magazine titled "Campaign 2000 -- Promoting the National Interest," which reveals some notable observations and reasonings that contrast with her later statements:

  • "As history marches toward markets and democracy, some states have been left by the side of the road. Iraq is the prototype. Saddam Hussein's regime is isolated, his conventional military power has been severely weakened, his people live in poverty and terror, and he has no useful place in international politics. He is therefore determined to develop WMD. Nothing will change until Saddam is gone, so the United States must mobilize whatever resources it can, including support from his opposition, to remove him."
  • Referring to both North Korea and Iraq, Rice wrote: "These regimes are living on borrowed time, so there need be no sense of panic about them. Rather, the first line of defense should be a clear and classical statement of deterrence --if they do acquire WMD, their weapons will be unusable because any attempt to use them will bring national obliteration. Second, we should accelerate efforts to defend against these weapons. This is the most important reason to deploy national and theater missile defenses as soon as possible, to focus attention on U.S. homeland defenses against chemical and biological agents, and to expand intelligence capabilities against terrorism of all kinds."
  • "Foreign policy in a Republican administration will most certainly be internationalist; the leading contenders in the party's presidential race have strong credentials in that regard. But it will also proceed from the firm ground of the national interest, not from the interests of an illusory international community. America can exercise power without arrogance and pursue its interests without hectoring and bluster. When it does so in concert with those who share its core values, the world becomes more prosperous, democratic, and peaceful. That has been America's special role in the past, and it should be again as we enter the next century," she wrote.[8]

In a forum organized by the Council on Foreign Relations at the Republican National Convention in August 2000, Rice was quizzed by an unidentified person on how a Bush Administration would deal with Iraq. "By that I mean will they continue to 'contain' Saddam Hussein or will there be a thought towards the idea of a Saddam free Iraq? Will the plight of the Kurds be considered?," the questioner wanted to know.

Rice was adamant that Hussein's days were numbered especially if a reason to topple him militarily arose. "The containment of Iraq should be aimed ultimately at regime change because as long as Saddam is there no one in the region is safe -- most especially his own people. There are three elements to this policy: one is to try to strengthen the coalition of states that support the sanctions regime; the second is to give better support to opposition forces in accordance with the Iraqi Liberation Act; the third is that is if Saddam gives you a reason to use force against him, then use decisive force, not just a pinprick. And in the long run, you should succeed in creating a Saddam-free Iraq," she said. [9]

Three questions later, Rice was asked a soft question on what a Bush administration would do to counter what was described as an anti-American sentiment abroad that had grown under a Clinton administration. "The first thing is that we need also to change the tone and rhetoric in America's foreign policy. It was a mistake to refer to ourselves as the indispensable nation. That caused considerable resentment. We have to consult and strengthen our relations with our allies, as a first priority," she said.

"...So if you are in tune with your allies, you say what you mean and mean what you say, if you avoid foreign policy that appears to the whole world like photo opportunities. Then you'll have plenty of credibility," she said. [10]

Richard N. Haass, the former director of policy planning at the State Department told the New York Times of meeting Rice in July 2002 to discuss Iraq policy. "Basically she cut me off and said, 'Save your breath -- the president has already decided what he's going to do on this'," he said. [11]

Beginning in 2002, Rice became one of the Bush administration's most outspoken supporters of the 2003 war in Iraq, arguing that Saddam Hussein posed a nuclear danger to the world. As administration hard-liners worked to build support for war beginning in 2002, Rice often mentioned the fear that Hussein would develop a nuclear weapon.

In September 2002, Rice also insisted that Hussein was pursuing nuclear weapons. "We do know that he is actively pursuing a nuclear weapon," she said on CNN's Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer on September 8, 2002. "The problem here is that there will always be some uncertainty about how quickly he can acquire nuclear weapons. But we don't want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud." [12] [13].

After Iraq delivered its declaration of weapons of mass destruction to the United Nations on December 8, 2002, it was Rice who wrote and submitted a column to the New York Times claiming that it "fails to account for or explain Iraq's efforts to get uranium from abroad, its manufacture of specific fuel for ballistic missiles it claims not to have, and the gaps previously identified by the United Nations in Iraq's accounting for more than two tons of the raw materials needed to produce thousands of gallons of anthrax and other biological weapons." [14]

The following year Rice was still touting the long-discerdited claims - albeit somewhat qualified - about Iraq seeking uranium from Africa as justification for the war. "At the time that the State of the Union address was prepared, there were also other sources that said that they were, the Iraqis were seeking yellow cake, uranium oxide from Africa," Rice said on This Week with George Stephanopolous on the U.S. ABC network. [15]

In a February 2003 interview with Larry King Live, Rice claimed there was no doubt about the al Qaeda connection. "…What emerges is a picture of a Saddam Hussein who became impressed with what al Qaeda did after it bombed our embassies in 1998 in Kenya and Tanzania, began to give them assistance in chemical and biological weapons, something that they were having trouble achieving on their own, that harbored a terrorist network under this man Zarqawi, despite the fact that Saddam Hussein was told that Zarqawi was there," she said. [16]

However, the Washington Post revealed that that two memos challenging the uranium claims had been sent to National Security Council staff as well as one phone call from the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency. Democrat Representative Henry A. Waxman told the Washington Post that "if the national security adviser didn't understand the repeated State Department and CIA warnings about the uranium allegation, that's a frightening level of incompetence ... It's even more serious if she knew and ignored the intelligence warnings and has deliberately misled our nation." [17]

Rice on Iraq: "This War Came To Us, Not The Other Way Around" Demonstrating capacity for total delusion, "Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice made a surprise visit to Baghdad Sunday [May 15, 2005]. During her top-secret trip, Rice claimed the U.S. invasion of Iraq was not a preemptive attack. She said "this war came to us, not the other way around." Rice vowed the U.S. would remain in Iraq until Iraq can "defend itself." She also warned Syria that it is "standing in the way of the Iraqi people's desire for peace." --Democracy Now!

"defend itself"?? It doesn't take much consideration, for those who have not discarded truth from their lives, to see just who, or what, is being "defended" in Iraq, and by whom.

Testimony Before 9/11 Commission

In March 2004, Rice was involved in a high-profile controversy over her refusal to publicly testify under oath before the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States. Additional, or redundant, information about this testimony can be found in the article National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States: Testimony (Condoleezza Rice).

Debate on her role in counter-terrorism policy increased after testimony and a contemporary book by Richard A. Clarke, Against All Enemies. When former White House counter-terrorism adviser, Richard Clarke, gave evidence on March 25, 2004 he bluntly said that Bush's national security advisers, and Rice in particular, had failed to take warnings of al-Qaida attacks on America seriously.

Several hours later Rice counter-attacked. "This story has so many twists and turns, he needs to get his story straight," she said. At a media briefing Rice read from a previously classified email Clarke had sent to Rice after the September 11, 2001 attacks. [18]

Rice also appeared on the high-rating CBS 60 Minutes program in an attempt to counter the impact of Clarke's criticisms of Rice and the White House. Amongst other claims, Rice said "Iraq was put aside" after the September attacks. It was a claim contradicted by a number of news reports.

On March 30, Counsel to the President Alberto R. Gonzales wrote to the Chairman and Vice-Chairman of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States notifying them that, subject to conditions, George W. Bush agreed to allow her to publicly testify under oath before the commission.

The conditions though, were not minor procedural matters. "First, the commission must agree in writing that Dr. Rice's testimony before the commission does not set any precedent for future commission requests, or requests in any other context, for testimony by a national security adviser or any other White House official," Gonzalez wrote.

More significantly, however, the White House requested that "the commission must agree in writing that it will not request additional public testimony from any White House official, including Dr. Rice." [19]

In her testimony, Rice opted to avoid responding directly to Clarke's specific comments, preferring to argue that while there were competing priorities the national security advisers had completed work on the first major national security policy directive just one week before the attacks. [20] [21]

Rice thus became the first sitting National Security Advisor to testify on matters of policy. [22]

See also

Condi's "Defense"

"But no one told us we needed to DO anything." (to the 911 commission)

Moe Blues at Bad Attitudes wrote on April 9, 2004, that Condi provided no defense:

"Here's the real problem with Condi's defense: that PDB (August 6, 2001, President's Daily Briefing Memo) was not issued in a vacuum. Warnings of some 'spectacular' terrorist attack had been building since May of 2001. Those warnings reached a crescendo in late July. It was against that background that the PDB was issued.
"Rice would have everyone believe that the PDB was an isolated document; that, taken alone, it indicated nothing. But reasonably intelligent people can see that the sum total of what was going on that summer pointed to the need for more vigorous action. Yet, the administration did nothing.
"If Condi Rice and the rest of the administration are incapable of seeing such obvious patterns as those preceding 9/11, they are incapable of defending this country. If they did see those patterns yet chose to ignore them in favor of taking month-long vacations, they are guilty of criminal negligence.
"Either way, Condi undercut her own defense."

Statements about Israel

I first visited Israel in 2000. I already then felt that I am returning home despite the fact that this was a place I never visited. I have a deep affinity with Israel. I have always admired the history of the State of Israel and the hardness and determination of the people that founded it. ... I am also the daughter of a Presbyterian minister and was brought up on the very moving stories of the Holy Land. They mean a lot to me. When I first visited Mt. Olives, Lake Kinneret, Jerusalem, I felt a very deep emotional experience.
— Condi Rice, quoted in: Avraham Shmuel Lewin, Rice: Israel’s Security Is Key To Security Of Rest Of World, Jewish Press, May 13, 2003.

Published Works

Resources and articles

Related SourceWatch articles


  1. Lisa M. Krieger, "Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice returns to Stanford University," Mercury News (San Jose, California), March 1, 2009.
  2. Advisory Board, George W. Bush Institute, accessed April 20, 2010.

External articles