Torture Tots: Condoleezza Rice Teaches Torture’s Necessity To Fourth Graders

225px-condoleezza_rice_croppedIn one of the most perverse moments yet in the torture debate, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice took time to explain the need for torture to a fourth grader who was a bit curious why his country tortured people. The question of Misha was considerably more reassuring than Rice’s answers.

Rice was given a lecture at the Sixth & I Historic Synagogue when she ran into Misha Lerner who asked her to explain why the Bush administration tortured people. Rice responded:

“Let me just say that President Bush was very clear that he wanted to do everything he could to protect the country. After September 11, we wanted to protect the country. But he was also very clear that we would do nothing, nothing, that was against the law or against our obligations internationally. So the president was only willing to authorize policies that were legal in order to protect the country. . . .I hope you understand that it was a very difficult time. We were all so terrified of another attack on the country. September 11 was the worst day of my life in government, watching 3,000 Americans die. . . . Even under those most difficult circumstances, the president was not prepared to do something illegal, and I hope people understand that we were trying to protect the country.”

This is close to the Nixonian response that Rice gave Stanford students last week..

I find it interesting that Rice is falling back on the exceptional circumstances of the time — a defense expressly rejected under the Convention Against Torture. Article 2 states: “No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat of war, internal political in stability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture.”

There is also the claim for a type of constitutional Mulligan for officials who are terrified after 911. It is pretty disconcerting to hear about officials living in terror of a group of terrorists. I live in Washington and the plane hit the Pentagon literally in my rear view mirror as I passed the Pentagon. A friend died on that flight. Yet, I was not “terrified” to Al Qaeda. I was angry and vengeful, but I would never have approved torture. We expect adults (let alone high-ranking officials) to act soberly and lawfully and humanely. Rice and the rest make it sound like they participated in a form of organized panic — where their little transgressions can be excused.

According to Misha’s mother, the boy originally wanted to ask “If you would work for Obama’s administration, would you push for torture?” His parents made him change the question. With all due respect to the parents (who clearly have raised a bright child), I liked Misha’s original question a bit more.

The failure of the Obama administration to select a special prosecutor is why officials like Rice can hold these impromptu torture for tots classes. Rice should be meeting with defense counsel, not holding forth on why torture is more excusable when your leaders are “terrified.” By the way, Al Qaeda must be loving the moment: what greater success is there for a terrorist than to know that you terrified the President of the United States and his National Security Adviser.

For the full story, click here and here.

107 thoughts on “Torture Tots: Condoleezza Rice Teaches Torture’s Necessity To Fourth Graders”

  1. Lotta,

    I’d recommend you stick to sweet stouts (also called cream or Milk stouts), Mackesen’s XXX is the most famous.

  2. Gyges: “Stout float. I recommend using Left Hand’s Milk Stout if you can find it. I have friends who swear by Guinness, but that always struck me as excessive.”

    I have actually heard of a stout float but never tried one. The only time I ever drank Guinness I had to find a discrete way to abandon the glass after one drink- after I had to find a way to actually get that one drink out of my mouth and down my throat.

    A stout float would certainly test the limits of my ‘ice cream pretty well makes all booze better’ theory. I’ll keep it in mind but I’ll have to be in a brave mood to try it. The great failure of my root beer floats is that If I get enough ice cream melted in them to get the texture I like the root beer taste is too diminished- the edge is gone. Stout is probably the next logical step in that taste/texture progression. I will keep it in mind. Thanks.

  3. One’s history always catches up with them. Here I was a dissipated Hippie throughout the 60’s and 70’s, with sex, drugs and rock n’ roll my prime motivations, known for obvious reasons as either “The Old Tripper, or “Flash.” Saved in the 80’s by the love of a good woman and wonderful daughters. Now three decades later, while innocently meandering through cyberspace I’ve fallen in with a pack of tipplers, tokers and cholesterol consumers. They’re led by someone preaching freedom of thought, the end of tyranny and who yet can see the comic irony that characterizes life in these United States.
    Every time I try to crawl out of this radical hole I’ve been trapped in, they draw me back in. Oh the ignominy!

  4. The latest craze is ‘Belgian Fries’ cooked in duck fat and served with several choices of clever dipping sauces…

    Our Maine version can be had at a place called ‘Duck Fat’
    in Portland.

    I’ve managed to duck the ‘duck fries’, so far!
    But, like you, Mike, I do think about it!

  5. Mike,

    I always have to chime in when booze comes up. I prefer Ouzo to Absinthe taste wise. There is something vaguely mystic about the ceremony surrounding drinking a glass of absinthe that I could see being appealing. It strikes me as a hold-overs from when fermentation was considered magical.

    While we’re on the subject of mixing booze and ice-cream I have two words: Stout float. I recommend using Left Hand’s Milk Stout if you can find it. I have friends who swear by Guinness, but that always struck me as excessive.

  6. Bron,
    The fried duck I’m talking about is called something like “Wor Shu Opp” in most NYC chinese restaurants. I also like the ubiquitous Peking Duck. While good fried chicken, not fast food, is a taste treat, I find it easily avoidable by my own baked version, which is low in fat. However, in my mind chicken can’t compare to duck in taste. Duck unfortunately is a very fatty fowl and therefore foul for me.

  7. MikeS:

    Fried duck? Does it taste like fried chicken?

    and ditto what Buddha said.

  8. Mike,

    More of us than just Patty care about your health. Just some of us aren’t medical doctors. 😀

  9. lottakatz,
    Thank you for the absinthe info, it doesn’t look promising, because I’m a thujone ingesting kind of guy and therein lay my attraction.

  10. Patty C.,
    Thank you for your concern. I know most physicians are loath to give advice outside of their practice, so your doing so made me feel good. In addition your advice is excellent. I’m already dealing with my Internist re: these issues. My cardiologist checked me out and says my heart, such as it is, isn’t the cause of my heartburn. There will be no doubt some GI work coming up soon, etc. Until I get clarity I’m not about to drink any alcohol, but it is nice too imagine. In truth I much preferred herbal buzzes all through my life, but at my age I’m not about to go through the effort and process of obtaining anything illegal.

    In truth, retired, living in a beautiful clime and happily feeling no pressures other than the petty annoyances of life, getting buzzed is not really of the similar need for it I had when the pressures of career and child rearing consumed me. Still, maintaining the fantasy is nice. Thanks also for the info re: absinthe and heart rhythm. This is part of my cardiac conditions area of concerns. In that respect, following through with your kindness let me pass on a tip from someone who had his first MI at 37 and whose life expectancy was not great due to subsequent incidents.

    Always have a loved one, preferably intelligent, attend all your medical checkups. I’ve found, perhaps it’s that I’m a guy, that my wife always hears much more than I do from the Doctor and asks the pertinent questions. As a patient, the most intelligent of us, because of the internal dialogue that arises on hearing adverse medical news, tends to tune out much of what the Doctor is trying to convey. My sharp earred and sharp witted wife has played a major role in keeping me alive this long. This in addition to the fact that she won’t let me eat my favorite food, fried duck.

    Thank you for caring Patty.


  11. Mike S
    I would not normally inject myself at this point nor in such a way so as to alarm, but I would run the absinthe idea past your doc, as well as the reflux problem – just to be safe.

    You can also ask about trying digestive enzymes. Don’t pop Rolaids or Tums, whatever else.

    I grow artemesias for their pest-repellent properties for use in my organic companionate gardens and because the gray foliage is pretty – even at night. Tarragon, a relative, is one of my herb perennial kitchen-favorites. I adore anise flavor in food as well as in the many popular aperitifs.

    I also grow fennel, though not near my tomatoes, but have never once considered making my own absinthe even though the current concoctions have greatly reduced the amount of wormwood oil added. The alcohol content in absinthe is very high and, in excess, has been linked to unusual heart rhythm disturbance in the young with no previous cardiac history.

    Probably no biggie, but I would ask…

  12. I did a Google and here’s the straight dope for we old hippies:

    “Absinthe in its modern-day incarnation may be hallucination-free because the levels of thujone, the active ingredient derived from dried wormwood, are far lower than they were a hundred years ago.

    The absinthe consumed by Van Gogh and Co. had levels of thujone of about 260 parts per million; today’s version is required by law to have no more than 10 ppm. …

    By Adam Pasick.
    2:00 a.m. ET (0600 GMT)
    May 10, 2000 ”

    I’m afraid it’s not going to make “Dark Star” sparkle as much as we oldsters might hope. Still, if you put Champagne with something (anything) stuff can still get pretty sparkly 😉

    I’ve never had a tummy problem from any booze I’ve mixed with ice cream Mike, and I tend to have tummy problems. Good malts can also be made with Franjelico, Kahula, and Amaretto.

    1 heaping Tablespoon of Malt mix, 1 pint of ice cream, 1/4 cup booze and a blender + success. Tamper w/the ratio as you like. I suspect a real drinker would tamper with the ratio until there was nothing in the glass but a couple of ice cubes and the booze 😉

  13. Wow…if the kid even understood her answer, I would be very impressed with that 4th grader.

  14. GWLSM,
    I’ve got 5 years on you, but you are in the right demographic to understand the changes of the last 50 some odd years.

  15. Lotta & Mike

    In no particular order

    You can get absinthe at any good liquor store. If there is something like Beverages and More where you live they have it there … several brands, in fact,usually behind the locked glass doors with the really expensive stuff. It is made from wormwood and the myth of its addictive qualities was begun and perpetuated by the wine industry who were careful to protect their interests from the growing popularity of cocktails.
    Try not drinking on an empty stomach. Cocktail hour always should include some foodie stuff, but if you don’t want to go to the trouble a half piece of buttered bread should do the trick. I, personally and happily, do not suffer from acid reflux. One of my surfer friends thinks 1/2 a banana is a good preventative.

    Mike, I’m staring at 60. This means I remember a time before highways, when if you wanted a Coke you put a nickel into a machine and a bottle came out and it was not diet, when we began each school day with the lord’s prayer, when there were zero african americans in our neighborhood unless they took at least 3 busses from Watts to our neighborhood to clean houses and the guys who did your landscape were Japanese and not Latino. Airplanes had propellers and you could walk out into the tarmac to greet arriving relatives but most of them took the train from “back East” when they visited.

    Sometimes we get into these conversations with the uneducable or with those who simply are so in love with the opinions that they have collected like bottle caps or bits of colored string that talking to them is like talking to furniture. I’ve tried talking to people whose minds are sealed shut for years and found that it was like talking to my chair and trying to convince it to turn into a table. I don’t care how bigoted people are. Well, I do care, but I know that I don’t have that magic set of words that can overcome their bias and besides I have areas of bias myself. We all do. I do hope that something in their experience leads them to see things differently. Maybe it will come from a conversation with me or you or from having a gay child or a child who falls in love with a Jew or a latino or from someone who shows them a kindness. Maybe not.

    There is a documentary film made by Alexandra Pelosi for HBO about the McCain/Palin campaign. I can’t recall the exact name….America Right: Feelng Wronged, I think…. anyway, there is this guy, this Southern White average guy who sobs because the world he was promised, one that was always supposed to favor his, uh,demographic, failed him. He was forced to attend to the results of diversity, plurality, and he felt betrayed, lost, unsure of his place in the grander scheme of things and cried for the future of the white christian male whose supremacy had been challenged and whose dominance will soon be ended. It’s kind of heart breaking, actually. And so what he has to teach his children and grandchildren is not a message of love, but one of hatred based on his disappointment and what he thinks of as a huge failed social experiment that began with voter’s rights for african americans and school integration.

    I’m on my way for a spiritual retreat of my own…. at the best little surfing beach in the world.
    hang 10

  16. Mike Spindell,

    It is always a pleasure to hear sage advise.

  17. lottakatz,
    Thank you for your reply. One failing I have, as my wife among others keeps telling me, is that I am over wordy in my writing. Then too, when I start to write there is much I want to say and that vies with a need to be clearly understood. As in this case sometimes my ability to get peoples attention with opening and closing sentences, loses the qualifications of the thoughts I put in between. In many instances I guess my ability to stultify people, leads them to skim through my words and that is more my fault than anyone’s error.

    As I just wrote GWLSM, I too have been fascinated with Absinthe for years. My only qualm is that of late I have stopped drinking alcohol of any sort. This is not for health or addictive reasons, but the fact that I’ve found a second drink gives me severe heartburn and one drink doesn’t give me the requisite buzz. Damn though, if its’ legal I’m going to buy a bottle and take an antacid before I drink. I wonder though, per your recipe, if Bailey’s, given its lactic content, might solve my heartburn problem?

  18. “I’ve been posting to message boards for years, well over a decade and stopped a few years ago because I can’t stand the rudeness, the purposeful unkindness that ultimately weakens our points of view and dilutes our ideas and gives the internet the reputation of being inhabited by Muu-muu wearing, Parliament chain-smoking, escapees from The Cukoo’s Nest to paraphrase Aaron Sorkin.”

    I also have had that experience. I personally support Israel’s right to exist, though clearly neither its right wing, nor its’ recent governments. I finally left, because when in trying to provide historical context I talked about the Grand Mufti. Someone replied to me:

    “I couldn’t care less about some “mufti,” the Israeli’s are the same as Nazi’s.”

    At that point I realized that I was spinning my wheels and also stopped posting on message boards. I discovered this site perhaps a year ago and about 8 months ago I ventured to comment. This is a breath of fresh air with intelligent discussions/people representing a wide range on the political spectrum. The debate, in rare instance uncivil, represents a quality of content that one sees rarely on the net. Jonathan, our peerless leader/ringmaster not only distinguishes himself daily in the quest of constitutional justice, but presides here with a mordant humor that infects all our spirits, for the better.

    While you probably aren’t as old as me, or our other resident codgers FFLEO & Mike Appleton, having a child in law
    school does mean you’re of an age that remembers civility in public discourse. While then, people like Malcolm X were not always treated fairly on show like Meet The Press, they were also not subject to vituperative attacks masked as questions.
    My sense is that once the MSM news was taken over by the networks entertainment departments, we have seen a steady degradation of product that has now permeated all media.

    On another topic I didn’t know that Absinthe was now legal in the US. I’ve always wanted to try it from my Hippie days.

  19. GWLawSchoolMom:

    Oooh ! a Cocktail moment!!

    I love the ‘cocktail moment’ segments on the Maddow show. They are so refreshing.

    A ‘Death in the Afternoon’ cocktail sounds interesting. I have wanted to try Absinthe since I was about 12. I had read various books that had mention of it like ‘Of Human Bondage’ so at about the age of 14 I inquired of the neighborhood barkeep if he stocked it. My plan was to have one of my parents buy a bottle so I could see what the fuss was all about. Man, did I get a lecture on it’s illegal status as a poisonous drug etc. Well that plan didn’t go very far. LIL.

    I’ll see if the local spirit/tobacconist shop (the vice-o-matic as it were) stocks absinthe and give it a try. Any cocktail with champagne is a winner.

  20. Lotta

    Oooh ! a Cocktail moment!!

    you wrote: I just e-mail now and buy Bailey’s Irish Cream with the money I would spend on extra minutes. Bailey’s, malt powder and a good Vanilla ice cream makes the best malted milk EVER. Forget the milk and just let the ice cream soften before blending for best results. A dash of chocolate syrup guilds the lily but hey, who says no to chocolate?

    There is this marvelous restaurant with the most fabulous bar in D.C.’s Foggy Bottom neighborhood called “Founding Farmers.” As you might imagine, the food is mainly from area organic growers and everything is good, but the cocktail menu is equally fresh and exciting. They have a drink there called “Death in the Afternoon” and the bartender taught me to prepare it.

    Chill a champagne flute with crushed ice. In a shaker, add a scoop of ice and then a generous jigger of Absinthe. Shake. Dump the ice from the flute and strain the chilled Absinthe into the flute. Top with champagne and garnish with a long thin strip of lemon zest.
    Be careful It’s easy to get really hammered.

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