On Wednesday, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will be visiting our university as part of UB’s Distinguished Speaker Series. I will not be attending Secretary Rice’s speech as an audience member. Instead, I will be protesting her presence on campus as a “Distinguished Speaker” along with fellow members of UB’s chapter of the Young Democratic Socialists of America.
While I welcome a diversity of viewpoints at UB, I do not believe that the university should be honoring Secretary Rice with the title of “Distinguished Speaker.” As National Security Advisor, and eventually Secretary of State to George W. Bush, Condoleezza Rice played an integral role in the lead-up to and perpetration of the Iraq War, an illegal war of aggression under international law.
The Iraq War began on the basis of intelligence reports that the Bush Administration, especially Condoleezza Rice, claimed showed evidence that Saddam Hussein’s Ba’athist Government had weapons of mass destruction. In reality, there was little to no evidence of this claim, yet Condoleezza Rice and the Bush Administration used this tenuous intelligence to justify military action in a foreign country that had not attacked the United States without the requisite permission from the United Nations Security Council, which, according to the International Commission of Jurists in Geneva, constitutes a war of aggression.
In addition to her prosecution of an illegal war, Condoleezza Rice repeatedly authorized the use of “enhanced interrogation techniques” (torture) including waterboarding, forced nudity and weeklong sleep deprivation at CIA black sites throughout her time as National Security Advisor and Secretary of State. Secretary Rice has regularly defended the CIA’s use of torture, even though it has repeatedly been shown to be an unreliable source of intelligence and is illegal under international law.
Today, the death toll of the Iraq War is estimated at half a million and there are still an unknown number of black sites operated by the CIA around the world with no congressional oversight on their activities. Five hundred thousand people dying as the result of an illegal war sure sounds like a war crime to me. So does torture. Does the university really believe that we should be celebrating a war criminal like Secretary Rice?
Undergraduate Political Science Student