Condi Rice Butchers American History. Again.
Much has been made of Condoleezza Rice's use Monday of the bogus Nixon tautology in defense of torture. Falling back on Tricky Dick's infamous statement that "when the President does it, that means it's not illegal," Rice told a group of students that "by definition, if it was authorized by the president, it did not violate our obligations under the Convention Against Torture."
But perhaps overlooked in Rice's banality of evil is her latest misuse of history. Having previously appropriated the struggle to free the slaves in the U.S. Civil War to justify the invasion of Iraq, Rice this week insisted Al Qaeda is a greater threat than Nazi Germany. And that revisionist history comes just a month after she told Charlie Rose the whopper that "no one was arguing that Saddam Hussein somehow had something to do with 9/11."
Ignoring the fact that Germany's ally Japan killed 2,400 Americans at Pearl Harbor and the Axis powers together threatened to overrun the globe during World War II, the former Bush national security adviser and secretary of state defended her boss by suggesting Adolf Hitler paled in comparison to Osama Bin Laden:
Q: Even in World War II facing Nazi Germany, probably the greatest threat that America has ever faced -
RICE: Uh, with all due respect, Nazi Germany never attacked the homeland of the United States.
Q: No, but they bombed our allies -
RICE: No, just a second, just a second. Three-thousand Americans died in the Twin Towers and the Pentagon.
Q: 500,000 died in World War II -
RICE: Fighting a war in Europe.
Q: -- and yet we did not torture the prisoners of war.
RICE: We didn't torture anybody here either.
(Despite his own frequent comparisons of his war in Iraq to WWII, George W. Bush himself clearly did not consider Al Qaeda an existential threat akin to the Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan. He did not insist on national service to mobilize the country for war. Rather than pay for the war by raising taxes, he cut them. And instead of asking Americans to sacrifice, he told them to go shopping.)
In September 2006, Secretary Rice tried to defend the chaos and carnage in Iraq by drawing parallels to the American Civil War. As MSNBC recounted, Rice told the predominantly African-American readership of Essence magazine that the invasion of Iraq was "absolutely" worth the costs in blood and treasure:
Rice then offered a parallel between critics of the administration's Iraq policies and "people who thought it was a mistake to fight the Civil War (in this country) to its end and to insist that the emancipation of slaves would hold."
"I'm sure that there were people who said, "why don't we get out of this now, take a peace with the South, but leave the South with slaves."
Of course, Condi Rice's historical fabrications and rewriting of the record extends back to the very causes of the Iraq war. As ThinkProgress noted, then national security adviser Rice argued in September 2002 that Saddam had "links to terrorism [that] would include al-Qaeda." But in March 2009, the former Secretary of State traveled back in time with PBS' Charlie Rose to whitewash history:
ROSE: But you didn't believe it had anything to do with 9/11.
RICE: No. No one was arguing that Saddam Hussein somehow had something to do with 9/11.
ROSE: No one.
RICE: I was certainly not. The President was certainly not...That's right. We were not arguing that.
Of course, Rice wasn't the only one in the Bush White House contending "there were ties going on between Al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein's regime," as she insisted as late as September 2006. Echoing Dick Cheney's exit interviews and President Bush's farewell address in January, former press secretary Ari Fleischer made the Saddam - September 11 connection just seven days before Rice's whopper on Charlie Rose.
With her stunning admissions this week regarding President Bush's regime of detainee torture ("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."), Condoleezza Rice showed she's not a lawyer.
As it turns out, she's not much of historian, either.
UPDATE: Harper's Scott Horton has more on Condi's really bad day.
Rice is so awful. She just parrots whatever talking points she's given, no matter how ridiculous she sounds.
But she is a mass murderer, very cold-blooded – not a weakling go-along, like Colin Powell or, in a different Bushist context, Christine Whitman, but rather one of the bunch of true Bushists for whom torture and murder were exhilirating.