Senator Barabara Boxer, California Democrat, was one of the leading lawmakers on Capitol Hill to attack then Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice over the events that led to the war in Iraq. Senator Boxer wrote in the Huffington Post last week that GOP lawmakers who are critical of President Obama’s UN Ambassador Susan Rice are being “unfair” and “untruthful.”
As I have listened to leading Republicans denigrate Ambassador Susan Rice, I am struck by how unfair this attack is, how untruthful it is, and how at odds it is with their past actions.
The truth is, when Ambassador Rice was asked on Face the Nation about the tragic deaths of four Americans in Benghazi, she shared exactly what she and the Congress had been directly told at the time by the intelligence community.
But she also said that this information was preliminary, stressing that an investigation had begun, and warning that “we’ll want to see the results of that investigation to draw any definitive conclusions.”
She was not spinning. She was not twisting the truth. She was simply being forthcoming with the best information available at the time. And for that, she is now being viciously attacked by Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham.
This treatment stands in stark contrast with their vocal support of Condoleezza Rice who — unlike Susan Rice — deliberately misrepresented intelligence.
The outrage looks increasingly phony as it is not difficult to remember how Democrats treated Condoleeza Rice when she was on the hot seat. While Susan Rice’s critics are accused of racism and sexism, Sen. Boxer conveniently leaves out the most notable insult she made toward Secretary Rice during a January 2007 hearing on the Iraq War.
Fox News reported:
Boxer made it personal.
“I’m not going to pay a personal price,” she said. “My kids are too old and my grandchild is too young. You’re not going to pay a particular price, as I understand it, with an immediate family.” Boxer talked about families losing loved ones and soldiers in hospital burn units. “These are the people who pay the price.”
Rice said evenly that she understands the sacrifice of service members and families. “I visit them. I know what they’re going through. I talk to their families. I see it. I could never and I can never do anything to replace any of those lost men and women in uniform, or the diplomats, some of whom. …”
Boxer cut her off.
“Madam Secretary, please,” she said. “I know you feel terrible about it. That’s not the point. I was making the case as to who pays the price for your decisions.”
Sec. Rice later responded to reporters on Boxer’s comments saying:
“I guess that means I don’t have kids. Was that the purpose of that?” Rice said. “Well, at the time I just found it a bit confusing frankly. But in retrospect, gee, I thought single women had come further than that. That the only question is are you making good decisions because you have kids?”
Boxer wasn’t the only one who attacked Sec. Rice. Then-Congressman Bob Wexler, Florida Democrat, accused Sec. Rice of lying about her statements regarding the war in Iraq: (bolding is mine)
WEXLER: Madame Secretary, over the past month, startling revelations have come forward that specifically relate to your conduct prior to 9/11 and in the run-up to the war in Iraq. A recently released study by the nonpartisan Center for Public Integrity revealed that you, along with President Bush, top administration officials, made a total of 935 false public statements in an orchestrated attempt to take this nation to war.
Here’s a stack of these false statements right here, all 935 of them.
This study has found that you, Madame Secretary, made 56 false statements to the American people where you repeatedly pump up the case that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction and exaggerate the so- called relationship between Iraq and al Qaeda.
Madame Secretary, can you please tell us that isn’t it true that you had intelligence that cast doubt on your repeated claims that Iraq did not (sic) have weapons of mass destruction?
SEC. RICE: No, it’s not true, Congressman. With all due respect, I think if you look back at the key judgments of the intelligence estimate about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction, you will see that those judgments supported the views of many intelligence agencies worldwide, the views of the United Nations inspectors that Iraq must have been hiding something.
Our own intelligence estimate said that Iraq had reconstituted its biological weapons program, its chemical weapons program. And the only disagreement was whether or not they had reconstituted their nuclear weapons program, although there were certainly elements, including the CIA, that believed that they were in the process of doing so.
Now, Congressman, I take my integrity very seriously. And I did not at any time make a statement that I knew to be false or that I thought to be false in order to pump up anything.
Nobody wants to go to war. Saddam Hussein was a threat to this country. We had gone to war against him in 1991. President Clinton had gone to war against him in 1998. We were in a state of war with him. This was a cessation of hostilities, not an armistice, because let us remember that our pilots were actually flying missions, Southern Watch and Northern Watch, and being shot at by his — by his air defenses.
And so —
SEC. RICE: I’m sorry, Congressman; because you’ve questioned my integrity, I ask you to let me respond.
Now, we have learned that many of the intelligence assessments were wrong. There have been many, many investigations of that, including Senate Select Intelligence and a number of others. And we have gone to extraordinary lengths to reform our intelligence agencies so that they can make better assessments of situations in which you have non-transparent governments that will not answer the just demands of an international community that had sanctioned and had resolutions against Saddam Hussein several times.
The accusations of deceit and incompetence were not isolated to members of Congress either. Protesters repeatedly harassed Sec. Rice. As recently as the RNC Convention in Tampa, protesters from Code Pink continue to stalk the former Secretary of State. In October of 2007, screaming members of Code Pink came within inches of Rice at a hearing on Capitol Hill.
Once again, Democrats prove that the protective cloak of racism and sexism only applies if the individual has a D by their name.