Rice Hearings To Continue; Nomination Expected

  1. http://www.democracynow.org/print.pl...5/01/19/159255

    Rice Defends Iraq War Plan, No Plan For Withdrawal
    At her confirmation hearing Tuesday, Secretary of State nominee Condolezza Rice defended President Bush's Iraq war plan and refused to lay out a timetable for the withdrawal of US troops. She called for what she described as "transformational diplomacy." California Senator Barbara Boxer chastised Rice for stating Saddam Hussein was close to developing nuclear weapons during the lead-up to the Iraq war. Boxer said, "Your loyalty to the mission ... overwhelmed your respect for the truth."

    Rice: Geneva Conventions Do Not Apply To All
    Senators Boxer, Christopher Dodd and Russell Feingold all questioned Rice on the use of torture at Abu Ghraib. Rice refused to describe what occurred at the Abu Ghraib prison as torture. She also claimed the Geneva Conventions do not apply to individuals associated with Al Qaeda. And she defended her recent letter urging Congress to remove anti-torture language from last year's intelligence reform bill. In response to her comments, Feingold said "It is simply not OK to equivocate on torture."

    Rice Describes Hugo Chavez Rule As "Very Deeply Troubling"
    Rice also singled out Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez charging that his rule was "very deeply troubling." She also described Cuba, Burma, Belarus, Zimbabwe, North Korea and Iran as "outposts of tyranny."
    Sen. Boxer Criticizes Rice Comments on Tsunami

    Meanwhile Senator Boxer accused Rice of being insensitive about last month's tsunami that killed over 175,000 in the Indian Ocean area. Boxer's statement came after Rice said "the tsunami was a wonderful opportunity to show not just the US government, but the heart of the American people, and I think it has paid great dividends for us."

    Rice Hearings To Continue; Nomination Expected
    The hearings, which went on for 9 and a half hours, continue today. Rice is expected to be approved by the Senate as early as today. We'll have more on the hearings in a few minutes.
  2. 39 Comments

  3. by   pickledpepperRN
    Rice Refuses to Describe Detainee Abuse at Abu Ghraib As Torture
    Wednesday, January 19th, 2005

    Condoleezza Rice refused to describe what occurred at the Abu Ghraib prison as torture at her confirmation hearing for Secretary of State. She also claimed the Geneva Conventions does not apply to individuals associated with Al Qaeda. We hear excerpts of the hearing and speak with constitutional lawyer David Cole. [includes rush transcript]

    President Bush's nominee to replace General Colin Powell as Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, faced more than 9 1/2 hours of questioning from the members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. The opening day of her confirmation hearing went well into the night. When it was over, it was just the committee's chair, Indiana Republican Richard Lugar, Condi Rice and Senator John Kerry who was making his first major foray back into his role as a Senator since the November election. It was also Illinois Senator Barack Obama's first major Senate appearance.

    Most of the exchanges between Rice and Senators from both political parties were cordial and without many fireworks. There were some moments where Rice faced tough questions on her views on torture and international law, on the administration's claims about alleged weapons of mass destruction in pre-invasion Iraq and on statements she made about Venezuela and its president Hugo Chavez. The main attack dog for the Democrats was California Senator Barbara Boxer. This was interesting given that California's other Senator Dianne Feinstein introduced Rice before the questioning began. Boxer also was the Democratic Senator who signed onto the challenge of the electoral college's certification of President Bush's victory in the election. In a moment, we are going to hear the first exchange between Boxer and Rice talking about the administration's justification for the invasion of Iraq, but first this is Boxer questioning Rice about torture.

    AMY GOODMAN: In a moment, we will hear the first exchange between Barbara Boxer and Condoleezza Rice talking about the administration's justification for the invasion of Iraq, but first, this is Senator Boxer questioning Dr. Rice about torture.

    SENATOR BARBARA BOXER: You said on July 1, 2004, when you commented on the abuses that took place in Abu Ghraib, and we're just going to put this up here -- you said, what took place at the Abu Ghraib prison does not represent America. Our nation is a compassionate country that believes in freedom. The U.S. Government is deeply sorry for what happened, and so on. You said that about Abu Ghraib. I thought your remarks were very appropriate. Now, last Thursday, we find out that after the Senate unanimously approved an amendment to restrict the use of extreme interrogation measures by American intelligence officers, you wrote a letter along with Mr. Bolten to the members of the Conference Committee asking them to strike that language from the final bill. Unfortunately, that is what they did at your request. Now [Can you bring this over here so I can see it?] I want to read you the operative language that you asked to be struck from the bill that was struck from the bill. "In general" -- and by the way, this is written by Joe Lieberman and John McCain. John McCain, a man who knows what torture is. So he wrote this with Joe Lieberman. "In general, no prisoner shall be subject to torture or cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment that is prohibited by the Constitution, laws or treaties of the United States." Pretty straightforward, pretty elegant, bipartisan, passed the Senate, that amendment unanimously, every single member. A letter comes, and the newspaper writes that at your request, at the urging of the White House, congressional leaders scrapped a legislative measure last month that would have imposed new restrictions on the use of extreme interrogation measures by American intelligence officers. In a letter to members of Congress, sent in October and made available by the White House on Wednesday this was last week, Condoleezza Rice, the National Security Adviser, expressed opposition to the measure on the grounds that it, quote, "provides legal protections to foreign prisoners to which they are not now entitled under applicable law and policy." Now, my understanding of this is that is a restatement of what the law is.

    CONDOLEEZZA RICE: It was our view in the administration, that first of all this is covered in the Defense Authorization Bill, which the President did sign.

    SENATOR BARBARA BOXER: This has to do with the intelligence community, not the military. It's not covered.

    CONDOLEEZZA RICE: Secondly, -- but all government agencies were covered in the Defense Authorization.

    SENATOR BARBARA BOXER: This was just the intelligence officers. Go ahead.

    CONDOLEEZZA RICE: All government agencies were covered in the Defense Authorization, so intelligence was covered.

    SENATOR BARBARA BOXER: No it, was not.

    CONDOLEEZZA RICE: It's our view. Secondly, the -- we did not want to afford to people who did not -- shouldn't enjoy certain protections, those protections. And the Geneva Conventions should not apply to terrorists like Al Qaeda. They can't, or you will stretch the meaning of the Geneva Conventions.

    AMY GOODMAN: Condoleezza Rice being questioned by Senator Barbara Boxer at Rice's confirmation hearings as Secretary Of State. We're joined on the phone by constitutional lawyer, David Cole, professor at Georgetown Law School, author of Enemy Aliens: Double Standards and Constitutional Freedom in the War on Terrorism. Can you explain this letter that Dr. Condoleezza Rice sent, and its significance, David Cole? Welcome.

    DAVID COLE: Sure, Amy. I think what has become clear subpoena that in August of 2002, when the Office of Legal Counsel wrote the memorandum that everybody has focused on, that sort of defined away, as much as possible, torture, to free up C.I.A. interrogators to use coercive tactics like waterboarding and the like against individuals, they also issued classified memoranda that specifically authorized tactics like waterboarding to the C.I.A. Those have not been released, but they have been reported on, and essentially, you have a situation in which we have one public, official policy and another secret, unofficial policy. It sounds like Ms. Rice was objecting to this new law because it sought to impose on everybody the standard that we say is our single, official policy. So, essentially what she's asking is we want to continue with a hypocrisy that says that we're opposed to torture, but, you know, wink, wink, let's authorize C.I.A. officials to use tactics that the world understands to be torture because we have defined them as not torture, but cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and we believe we can do that to people as long as they're not covered by the Geneva Conventions.

    AMY GOODMAN: Well, what about that? She was very straightforward in answering that point. She said that the Geneva Conventions do not apply to members of Al Qaeda.

    DAVID COLE: And there's -- there's actually a decent legal argument that the Geneva Conventions do not apply to members of Al Qaeda, but there's been decent legal arguments that the Geneva Conventions don't apply to many of the forces that we have fought in the past, and we have always nonetheless, insisted that we would treat people as if they are protected by the Geneva Conventions. That is, we would not impose torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment on anybody, regardless of whether they fought in an organized military under a state that had signed the Geneva Conventions. So, in Vietnam, for example, there were irregular forces that we were fighting that were not technically covered by the Geneva Conventions. They had not signed on to the Geneva Conventions. They didn't follow the rules of the Geneva Conventions, but nonetheless, we extended Geneva Convention treatment to them. We have always taken that position until this war, where we have very -- you know, very considerably -- the administration has decided we don't want to extend Geneva Conventions to Al Qaeda people and to Taliban people because we want to use coercive interrogation tactics against them. That is precisely what led to the slippery slope that ultimately, you know, was revealed in the pictures from Abu Ghraib.

    AMY GOODMAN: David Cole, thanks for joining us, Professor at Georgetown Law School, author of the book, Enemy Aliens: Double Standards and Constitutional Freedom in the War on Terrorism.
  4. by   BeachNurse
    No plan for withdrawal? Do we expect them to tell us what the plan is? I didn't know that military plans and strategies were required to made public. ???

    Senate Panel Gives Rice Confirmation Nod

    Jan 19, 11:40 AM (ET)

    WASHINGTON (AP) - The Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted Wednesday to confirm Condoleezza Rice as secretary of state after two days of hearings in which she faced strenuous Democratic assaults on the Bush administration's handling of Iraq.

    Pending approval by the full Senate, Rice would be the first black woman to hold the job. She was confirmed by a 16-2 vote with Democrats John Kerry of Massachusetts and Barbara Boxer of California voting no.

    Other Democrats, including ranking member Joseph Biden of Delaware, had said they were reluctantly voting to elevate Rice to the nation's top diplomatic job. A vote by the full Senate was expected by Thursday.

    As the committee voted, Secretary of State Colin Powell bid farewell to his "family" at the State Department.

    (AP) Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., and Sen. Joseph Biden, D-Del., confer during Secretary of...
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    "You were my troops, you were America's troops," the former Army general said. "You are the carriers of America's values."

    He called Rice "a dear friend" and said she would bring "gifted leadership" to the department.

    Rice surmounted two days of sometimes contentious questioning - mostly by Democrats - on the administration's prosecution of the war.

    At her hearing Wednesday, Rice acknowledged "there were some bad decisions" by the administration on Iraq, as Democrats pressed her on whether the reasons for going to war were misleading.

    Rice insisted that Saddam Hussein was a dictator who refused to account for weapons of mass destruction. And it was impossible to change the nature of a terror threat in the Middle East with him leading Iraq, she testified.

    (AP) Sen. Joseph Biden, D-Del., reacts during the second day of her confirmation hearing before the...
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    But Boxer would not be shaken off, even after Rice acknowledged to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that "there were some bad decisions" taken by the Bush administration on Iraq.

    She accused Rice of "an unwillingness to give Americans the full story because selling the war was so important to Dr. Rice. That was her job."

    And now, Boxer said, the toll of American dead and wounded is the "direct result" of Bush administration "rigidness" and misstatements.

    Biden challenged Rice to acknowledge administration mistakes on Iraq and said he would vote for her confirmation, but only with "some frustration and reservation."

    The Delaware senator, zeroing in on U.S. policy in Iraq as he had during Tuesday's initial hearing, accused the administration of giving shifting reasons to justify the war to oust Saddam.

    (AP) Secretary of State-designate Condoleezza Rice responds to questions during the second day of her...
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    Rice had steadfastly refused Tuesday to say when U.S. forces might be withdrawn from Iraq. And on Wednesday, Biden cited various rationales for the war, saying "you danced around it, stuck to the party line."

    He told Rice that acknowledging mistakes - such as the claim that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction and was poised to use them - should not be considered "a sign of weakness."

    Sen. Lincoln Chafee, R-R.I., meanwhile, urged Rice to consider reconciliation with Iran, which he said was about as repressive as China was when the Nixon administration approached Beijing for better relations.

    But Rice said, "It is really hard to find common ground with a government that thinks Israel should be extinguished," supports terror groups and is undercutting U.S. peace efforts in the Middle East.

    More than 1,365 members of the U.S. military have died since U.S. troops led an invasion of Iraq in March 2003.

    (AP) Sen. Joseph Biden, D-Del., questions Secretary of State-designate Condoleezza Rice during the...
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    But Rice has declined to estimate when even some of the 150,000 U.S. troops may return home.

    "I am really reluctant to try to put a timetable on that, because I think the goal is to get the mission accomplished," she had said Tuesday, "and that means that the Iraqis have to be capable of some things before we lessen our own responsibility," she said.

    The 18 members of the committee were eager to quiz Colin Powell's designated successor, although Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., the panel's chairman, planned a vote following the hearing.

    Committee approval would send the nomination to the Senate where confirmation appears certain - despite unease, especially among Democrats, about reasons Bush, Powell, Rice and others in the administration gave for going to war in March 2003 and how they are dealing with a deadly postwar insurgency.

    At the State Department, Powell planned a farewell speech at midday, while employees were told to gather Friday in the lobby to welcome Rice on what would be her first day in charge of U.S. foreign policy.

    Her positions on the war did not stem blistering criticism from Democratic senators.

    Sen. John Kerry, who made Bush's management of postwar Iraq an issue in his losing presidential campaign, told Rice Tuesday that "the current policy is growing the insurgency and not diminishing it."

    "This was never going to be easy," Rice said in response. "There were going to be ups and downs."

    She said that after the Iraqis have voted on Jan. 30 for a transitional assembly, the Bush administration would conduct a review.

    "We need to be patient," she told Kerry.
  5. by   SmilingBluEyes
    I expect her nomination to proceed and for her to take her post without too much event shortly.
  6. by   Mkue
    No plan for withdrawal? Do we expect them to tell us what the plan is? I didn't know that military plans and strategies were required to made public. ???
    Evidently the current administration is required to make all plans public, even at the risk of further endangering troops on the battlefield.
  7. by   SmilingBluEyes
    as if what they have done is not abuse enough...using the military to secure OIL FIELDS....that is abuse on the highest order...not to mention endangerment indeed.
  8. by   BeachNurse
    Condi was approved with only 2 dissenting votes, Barbara Boxer and John Kerry.
  9. by   URO-RN
    Quote from BeachNurse
    Condi was approved with only 2 dissenting votes, Barbara Boxer and John Kerry.
    No surprise....

    But, it's democracy in action. They are entitled to disagree. If this was some other country, those two would face a firing squad for sure.
  10. by   dphrn
    I see Kerry showed up for that vote! :chuckle
  11. by   pickledpepperRN

    Transcript of remarks between Boxer and Rice
    Federal News Service
    Wednesday, January 19, 2005
  12. by   Mkue
    Quote from dphrn
    I see Kerry showed up for that vote! :chuckle
    Yah, interesting..maybe he will show up in Washington more often.
  13. by   Mkue
    Quote from SmilingBluEyes
    as if what they have done is not abuse enough...using the military to secure OIL FIELDS....that is abuse on the highest order...not to mention endangerment indeed.
    considering that the Oil fields belong to the Iraqi's..which are a huge source of income that Saddam didnt' share much with his people, I was glad to see we had the foresight to guard the oil fields from terrorists who would probably like to see the fields burn.
  14. by   BeachNurse
    Quote from dphrn
    I see Kerry showed up for that vote! :chuckle
    He wouldn't miss it. I am sure he plans another shot in 2008.