Nixon, No Um, Rice: If The President Does It, It's Legal

Maureen Dowd recounts (apparently Cenk reported)

Condi Rice, who plans to go back to being a professor of political science at Stanford, got grilled by a student at a reception at a dorm there on Monday. . . . The student pressed [Rice] about whether waterboarding was torture.

“By definition, if it was authorized by the president, it did not violate our obligations under the Conventions Against Torture,” Ms. Rice said, almost quoting Nixon’s logic: “When the president does it, that means that it is not illegal.”

The entire video, from Reyna Garcia, is worth watching.

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    Rice's responses (5.00 / 2) (#1)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sun May 03, 2009 at 12:48:49 PM EST
    are stunning in their ignorance and depravity.

    Stunning? (none / 0) (#44)
    by dws3665 on Mon May 04, 2009 at 01:00:55 AM EST
    Appalling maybe, even revolting, but they are only "stunning" if you haven't been paying attention (which I know you have).

    Thanks but no thanks (5.00 / 4) (#2)
    by cal1942 on Sun May 03, 2009 at 01:09:26 PM EST
    Stanford for turning this piece of work loose to mold young minds.

    Just what we don't need in education.

    Stanford countering (5.00 / 1) (#3)
    by oculus on Sun May 03, 2009 at 01:12:54 PM EST
    Berkeley and John Woo.  Although the latter is now a visiting prof. at Chapman School of Law in Orange County.  Too "hot" at Berkeley.  

    Is Orange County (none / 0) (#19)
    by cal1942 on Sun May 03, 2009 at 03:45:39 PM EST
    appropriate for the John Yoos of this world or have I heard wrong?

    Quite conservative. Don't know about (none / 0) (#20)
    by oculus on Sun May 03, 2009 at 03:51:07 PM EST
    recently ABA-accredited Chapman.

    No I don't (none / 0) (#21)
    by cal1942 on Sun May 03, 2009 at 03:55:43 PM EST
    what's the story?  Is it another Patrick Henry U?

    As I recall, before Chapman attained (none / 0) (#22)
    by oculus on Sun May 03, 2009 at 03:57:05 PM EST
    ABA accreditation, there was a bit of a fuss in LA Times by students who thought they might be wasting their money going there.  

    Now, (5.00 / 2) (#23)
    by cal1942 on Sun May 03, 2009 at 04:05:49 PM EST
    with Yoo on the faculty, they have a case that they're wasting their money and subjected to disease as well.

    Yes, and according to the University, Dr. Rice (none / 0) (#12)
    by KeysDan on Sun May 03, 2009 at 02:25:55 PM EST
    will be teaching courses on international politics, with an emphasis on decision-making (while working on her book in keeping with her $2.5 million contract with Crown Publishers). And, these competencies were relayed to her by the 'decider'.

    In spite of the Hoover Institute (none / 0) (#27)
    by hairspray on Sun May 03, 2009 at 04:46:32 PM EST
    and other like minded conservative departments and programs, I believe she will not have an easy time of it there.  The younger generation seem far more liberal to me these days. However, they will tuck her away in an ivory tower until the heat dies down and then in 4-5 years (after she has written tons of OpEds and given frequent speeches at the local venues) she will come out of hiding, with a rehabilitated reputation.

    Rice & Powell two peas in a pod (5.00 / 5) (#4)
    by Saul on Sun May 03, 2009 at 01:17:29 PM EST
    No guts.  Sold  their soul to the loyalty of Bush.  Both of them knew how wrong they were yet their conscience did not bother them.  If both of them would have just walked away and told Bush thanks but no thanks they would have been hailed as heroes.  Instead IMO they are gutless traitors to their true beliefs.  Plus the blood of many troops and Iraqi civilians is on their hands.

    Live with that Condi & Powell.  That is your legacy.

    Condi never had a soul (none / 0) (#36)
    by gyrfalcon on Sun May 03, 2009 at 06:59:53 PM EST
    She had nothing to sell.

    Powell, however, knows better and knew better.  He knew better when he signed on with the GOP to begin with.  I can't imagine how he sleeps at night without pills.  He, IMHO, will roast in a hotter hell than Condi.


    Well, really... (none / 0) (#45)
    by sj on Mon May 04, 2009 at 09:24:19 AM EST
    ...neither did Powell.  You notice he actually did the dirty work before being overcome the angst.

    Condi never had a soul

    I truly don't know how he got the reputation for integrity and all when his lack of it has been on view since My Lai.  

    And by the way, apparently he doesn't sleep well at night without pills.


    McClatchy had the video front paged (5.00 / 6) (#5)
    by lambert on Sun May 03, 2009 at 01:19:18 PM EST
    (No link, alas.) They've been all over this.

    In general, I think the left blogosphere reads way too much Pravda and Izvestia, and way too little McClatchy (who, as Knight Ridder, got it right on Iraq, let us remember).

    I missed it (5.00 / 1) (#6)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sun May 03, 2009 at 01:24:00 PM EST
    Bad on me.

    in general, (none / 0) (#29)
    by cpinva on Sun May 03, 2009 at 05:18:35 PM EST
    In general, I think the left blogosphere reads way too much Pravda and Izvestia, and way too little McClatchy

    i think you're a twit. but hey, that's just my opinion.

    i've never read either pravda or izvestia, aside from the occasional excerpt. i serially doubt too many people, including left blogosphere inhabitants, have.

    and what makes you (or mcclatchy, for that matter) think this represents some staggering revelation? it simply confirms what we pretty much already knew; ms. rice isn't merely tepid in her stupidity, she's at full boil, and more or less always has been. powell just sold his soul to the devil. i hope he at least got a fiddle made of gold out of the deal.

    and yes, ms. rice is stupid, stunningly so. i've said that for years. being able to regurgitate facts at the drop of a hat hardly qualifies one as insightful. her tenure in the bush administration put on display, for all to see, her complete lack of original thought, in damn near anything. she doesn't even possess the raw survival instincts to know when to keep her mouth shut in public. a million years ago, she'd have been eaten by a saber toothed tiger.

    in cheney's case, it's pure, unadulterated hubris; he truly believes he's the smartest thing walking the planet, as a natural-born biped (i think). thus, his (decidedly self-destructive) demand that all the memos be released, to prove what a great humanitarian he is.

    of course, like ms. rice, he'll end up skewered on his own petard. i just want to watch as it explodes.


    Erm.... (5.00 / 1) (#31)
    by trillian on Sun May 03, 2009 at 05:56:12 PM EST
    Pravda and Izvestia are the NY Times and WaPo.

    Coined by billmon, I believe.


    Thanks for your substantive response (none / 0) (#30)
    by lambert on Sun May 03, 2009 at 05:27:58 PM EST
    Since McClatchy, as Knight Ridder, got Iraq right, it really ought to be much more of a go-to site than it is. They've also got some excellent blogs. Emjoy!

    I'm confused (5.00 / 2) (#9)
    by Jen M on Sun May 03, 2009 at 01:30:25 PM EST
    What is the process of impeachment for?  Is it only Republican presidents that have absolute power?

    I know I'm swimming against the tide, (5.00 / 5) (#14)
    by lentinel on Sun May 03, 2009 at 03:00:50 PM EST
    but I want these people to be held accountable for what they did to us.

    I want them to be tried in a court of law.

    To put forth as a reason for letting these people go on their merry way, "looking forward", is absolute tripe. And we are being served it by our new administration.

    I Want Them Tried (none / 0) (#41)
    by CDN Ctzn on Sun May 03, 2009 at 10:26:47 PM EST
    in an International Court so that their crimes and responses to it may be clearly seen without the benefit of it being "filtered" by the media.
    For us to gain ANY credibility in the eyes of the world these "bottom dwellers" must be brought to accountability and justice on a world stage.
    I'd like to see how Condi's arguements and distortion of facts would hold up to an informed prosecution and jury.
    Personally, I like to err on the side of mercy, but none should be afforded to these truely hideous people as long as they continue to justify their monsterous actions.

    The precedent was established for (5.00 / 6) (#16)
    by MO Blue on Sun May 03, 2009 at 03:35:31 PM EST
    8 years during the Bush administration and basically cheered by the Republican party and accepted by the Democratic party. The Democratic party wrote a few sternly written letters and then set the precedent on firmer ground by passing legislation to give immunity to the telecoms for breaking the law in response to a Presidential request and by removing more of the U.S. citizens' rights. From what I've seen to date, President Obama is willing to further this precedent whenever it suits his agenda.

    IMO this is the new reality.


    Sternly written secret letters (none / 0) (#32)
    by ricosuave on Sun May 03, 2009 at 06:00:45 PM EST
    They wrote sternly written letters that were either classified or filed away in their filing cabinets for whatever use later.  Very few public stern letters during the 00's.

    Thanks for picking this up (5.00 / 1) (#17)
    by randy80302 on Sun May 03, 2009 at 03:37:33 PM EST
    Yay! for citizen journalists and their camcorders.

    "No, dear..." she patronized (5.00 / 1) (#24)
    by oldpro on Sun May 03, 2009 at 04:10:32 PM EST
    the student.

    Yes.  Beyond arrogant and defensive as people often are who know they are dead wrong and undeniably caught in the headlights of reality.

    She can look forward to a lot more of this...and worse, if she insists on remaining a public person.  Just picture her on a panel with some grownups of equal age and experience...

    She'd never do it (none / 0) (#34)
    by gyrfalcon on Sun May 03, 2009 at 06:53:19 PM EST
    Never has, never will.  She'd be eviscerated, and she is just barely aware enough to realize it, one reason why she'd never dare fun for president, as some idiots have tried to suggest she would.

    Perhaps she is "smarter" than I think she is, but for sure she does not have anything resembling a nimble mind.  No surprise the Bush creature adores her.


    Book smart isn't street smart. (5.00 / 1) (#37)
    by oldpro on Sun May 03, 2009 at 07:02:51 PM EST
    She didn't handle the confrontation with the student well at all.

    I agree, she's unlikely to put herself on a panel with a fair balance and/or in front of a crowd that isn't automatically Republican friendly.  Unlike Hillary, she's gutless.


    Not even sure (none / 0) (#39)
    by gyrfalcon on Sun May 03, 2009 at 09:01:10 PM EST
    she's really book smart, frankly.  I have zero respect for either her scholarship or her intellect.  "Mediocre" would be putting it too kindly, IMHO.

    OK. I wouldn't argue the point. (5.00 / 1) (#40)
    by oldpro on Sun May 03, 2009 at 09:41:33 PM EST
    Bruce Fein's interesting (5.00 / 2) (#25)
    by oldpro on Sun May 03, 2009 at 04:25:16 PM EST
    suggestion (as relayed on Bill Moyer's Journal last week):

    "We ratified the convention against torture in the Senate. We passed it and made it a crime - it's not a Republican or Democratic issue... In 2004, we confronted the same problem we had with Nixon - he wasn't going to investigate Watergate... But now the President and Vice President who authorized this are gone, so there's no obstacle. If President Obama didn't want to be President and faithfully enforce the laws, he shouldn't be there... If Obama thinks that these people, as he's said, have committed torture, and he doesn't believe it should go forward for political reasons, he needs to pardon them... Then, at least, we do not have a situation where we have set a precedent that lies around like a weapon, that you can violate the law with impunity."

    Yes.  Investigate and pardon them as President Ford did Nixon.  Of course Ford paid for that in the next election, so Obama would have to wait until his second term to issue the pardons...

    Bruce Fein (5.00 / 1) (#35)
    by gyrfalcon on Sun May 03, 2009 at 06:56:58 PM EST
    is the single, only, solitary conservative I respect.  I think he's absolutely right on this.  If you can't stomach investigating/prosecuting them for purely political reasons, then officially pardon them to put the law-breaking on the record as law-breaking.

    It's an idea I sure hadn't thought of, but I think it's a darn good one given that Obama is never going to go after these people.


    As Brando/Kurtz said: (none / 0) (#26)
    by jondee on Sun May 03, 2009 at 04:42:07 PM EST
    an errand boy(girl) sent by grocery clerks.

    And... (none / 0) (#28)
    by oldpro on Sun May 03, 2009 at 05:15:07 PM EST
    "We must kill them. We must incinerate them. Pig after pig. Cow after cow. Village after village. Army after army."

    Found it hard to tolerate this movie.  Loved every other Brando movie, tho.

    Preferred "The Deer Hunter"...still do.


    I'm Sure (none / 0) (#42)
    by CDN Ctzn on Sun May 03, 2009 at 10:31:03 PM EST
    that process will bring peace to the human beings whose live these Bastards have completely destroyed. Then we can punish them further by giving them appointments to Universities and 5 figures fees on the lecture circuit.
    Is that what we mean by, "American Justice"?

    It's npt what I mean (none / 0) (#43)
    by oldpro on Mon May 04, 2009 at 12:16:56 AM EST
    but I take your point.

    American justice is selective...and always has been.  Imperfect, at best.

    Fear, personal or political, still drives our justice system.


    My Comment (none / 0) (#47)
    by CDN Ctzn on Mon May 04, 2009 at 12:22:12 PM EST
    wasn't meant as a snipe to you. Sorry if it came across that way.
    What you stated is the reality of the situation and likely what will happen. It's just that if it does go that way, we'll wash our hands of it and pat ourselves on the back for being such a moral society.

    Yes. Smug self-satisfaction (none / 0) (#48)
    by oldpro on Mon May 04, 2009 at 12:58:02 PM EST
    is endemic in our culture.

    Irony (5.00 / 2) (#33)
    by ricosuave on Sun May 03, 2009 at 06:04:24 PM EST
    The administration that tried to outlaw French (and their fries) organizes on the principal of "l'etat cest moi."

    They hate the commies and adopt KGB tactics, too.  Is this a pattern?  Can we amuse ourselves for a while by applying some completely unfounded pop psychology here?

    Premature anti-Rice (none / 0) (#7)
    by gyrfalcon on Sun May 03, 2009 at 01:24:26 PM EST
    I like to think I was way ahead of the pack in having no use for Condi Rice since my extreme lack of appreciation for her dates from her first appearances on Koppel as a supposed "Russia expert."  (We were discussing "conventional minds" in another thread.  She'd be Example A.)

    But I think she's getting a bit of a bad rap on this.  She said, "The president instructed us that nothing we would do would be outside of our obligation, legal obligations under the convention against torture... I conveyed the authorization of the administration to the agency. And so by definition, if it was authorized by the president, it did not violate our obligations under the Convention Against Torture."

    She was clearly rattled as this dialogue was going on, and the language is muddy ("would" is an ambiguous word the way she's using it).

    But it seems to me what she was saying was that Bush "instructed" them that he would see to it (via those Bybee opinions, etc.) that they would not go over the line into torture and therefore would not authorize anything that met the legal definition of torture and tell them to do something that was illegal.

    I honestly don't think she was saying that if the prez sez so, it ain't illegal.  She was saying that Bush wouldn't authorize anything he hadn't gotten legal CYA for.

    Condoleezza Rice was a terrible Russia analyst, a disastrously incompetent national security adviser and a mediocre SoS, at best, and clearly absolutely complicit in the Bush admin's torture regime, among many other things.  But she's not quite so stupid, I don't think, as to claim the infamous Nixonian magical power of legal infallibility for Bush, just that he was clever enough to insist on legal cover, however dubious, for whatever he decided he wanted to do.

    After watching the video (5.00 / 3) (#8)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sun May 03, 2009 at 01:27:12 PM EST
    I could not disagree with you more. Her response is simply unaccepable and frankly, depraved.

    Didn't say it wasn't depraved (none / 0) (#10)
    by gyrfalcon on Sun May 03, 2009 at 01:32:17 PM EST
    Having legal CYA of the quality of the Bybee memo as an excuse for torture is by defintion depraved.

    I simply don't think she's stupid enough to claim presidential infallibility.

    Same as Palin, IMHO, there's more than abundant stuff to eviscerate Condi Rice on without it.


    Admit it; you're giving her the (5.00 / 1) (#18)
    by oculus on Sun May 03, 2009 at 03:39:36 PM EST
    benefit of the doubt because she plays classical piano.  <snk>  

    I initially understood her to be (5.00 / 8) (#11)
    by Anne on Sun May 03, 2009 at 01:48:21 PM EST
    saying that because of the assurances of the president, she knew that nothing they did could possibly be illegal.

    But, then I decided that that just boiled down, really, to the same thing Nixon said, "if the president authorized it, it's legal."

    Has Condi Rice EVER taken responsibility for anything?  I can still see her before the 9/11 commission, trying to make us all believe that the August, 2001 memo didn't really mean what everyone with enough brain cells for a quorum thought it did.

    From that point forward, I never believed another word out of her mouth.  


    i disagree. (none / 0) (#38)
    by cpinva on Sun May 03, 2009 at 08:30:02 PM EST
    But she's not quite so stupid, I don't think, as to claim the infamous Nixonian magical power of legal infallibility for Bush, just that he was clever enough to insist on legal cover, however dubious, for whatever he decided he wanted to do.

    she is absolutely that stupid. and the reason she probably appears rattled, is because somewhere, deep, deep in the recesses of her "primitive" brain, there was a spark of recognition, that relying on a president who, himself, is that stupid and venal, for assurances of anything, beyond the coffee being ready, was almost a sure, one-way ticket to extinction.

    unfortunately, that spark was too weak to produce flame, and here we are.


    WSWS: Spanish judge launches new torture probe (none / 0) (#13)
    by Andreas on Sun May 03, 2009 at 02:41:51 PM EST
    The WSWS writes:

    If anything, Condoleezza Rice's defence of her actions is more brazen than that of Bybee. On Thursday, the Huffington Post web site posted an account of a recent exchange between Rice and students during a speaking appearance at Stanford University. When students asked her whether waterboarding was torture, she replied, "[B]y definition, if it was authorized by the president, it did not violate our obligations under the Convention Against Torture."

    Rice's position is that Bush personally sanctioned waterboarding and that presidential authority overrides the rule of law. In seeking to defend herself, she has effectively placed Bush himself directly in the line of fire. ...

    Michael Ratner, president of the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), which represents many of the Guantánamo Bay detainees, said of Garzón's new investigation, "The torture conspirators are in deep trouble. Even if the US fails in its obligation to criminally investigate, Spain will. The conspirators can run, but they can't hide. It is conceivable that arrest warrants have already been issued or will be soon. Indictments will almost surely follow. The torture team's travel options are narrowing."

    The attitude of the American political and media establishment to Garzón's investigation is indicated by the virtual silence with which the media has greeted it. It has barely been reported on the television news channels and been given only the most perfunctory coverage in the print media. An article was published in the electronic edition of the New York Times Wednesday, but not in the next day's print edition.

    Spanish judge launches new torture probe of Bush officials
    By Paul Mitchell and Chris Marsden, 1 May 2009

    This is kind of like (none / 0) (#46)
    by maddog on Mon May 04, 2009 at 10:32:36 AM EST
    Obama over riding bankruptcy law by assigning prioty of repayment to unsecured creditors over secured creditors in the Chrysler bankruptcy.

    Seems that this occurance doesn't get mentioned much.