- The Washington Times - Friday, March 31, 2006

BLACKBURN, England — Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said yesterday that the Bush administration has made thousands of mistakes in Iraq and predicted that she would supervise doctoral dissertations on those errors when she returns to teaching at Stanford University.

“But when you look back in history, what will be judged is did you make the right strategic decisions,” she said during a visit to England’s industrial Northwest. “I believe strongly that it was the right strategic decision, that Saddam Hussein had been a threat to the international community long enough.”

Speaking before local officials, business leaders and journalists in Blackburn, a former cotton town that elected British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw to Parliament, Miss Rice acknowledged that the Bush administration had made errors that would probably come back to haunt her when she returns to academics.

“I know we’ve made tactical errors, thousands of them, I’m sure,” she said. “I’m quite certain that there are going to be dissertations written about the mistakes of the Bush administration, and I will probably even oversee some of them when I go back to Stanford,” Miss Rice said.

Mr. Straw invited Miss Rice to his constituency after he visited her hometown of Birmingham, Ala., in October. The Iraq war was a hotly debated topic during Mr. Straw’s election campaign here last year.

Her presence in Blackburn, where 20 percent of the population is Muslim, and in nearby Liverpool was marked by divisiveness that spilled into the streets.

Many residents here praised her intellect and abilities, and some of those who met her described her as “very nice.” At the same time, they held her close relationship with President Bush and her role in the Iraq war against her.

While she was warmly welcomed by her hosts at several venues in both cities, hundreds of vocal protesters followed her throughout the day, defying tight security measures.

Armed with slogans “Hey, hey Condi Rice, how many kids have you killed today?” and “How many lives per gallon?” they stood outside the Pleckgate High School and Ewood Park, home to the Blackburn Rovers soccer team, and later at the Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts (LIPA) and the Liverpool Philharmonic.

“We should be proud to have such a high-profile visitor to our school,” said Pleckgate student Jabbar Khan, 16.

Jon Netton, a 22-year-old student at LIPA, which was founded by ex-Beatle Paul McCartney, complained that his concert rehearsal was disrupted by the security for Miss Rice’s visit.

“Why should we be seen to endorse the policies of this woman?” he said.

A mosque Miss Rice was scheduled to visit withdrew its invitation, citing security concerns after anti-war protesters and others opposed to her visit threatened to “invade” the building.

“It’s OK, people have a right to protest and a right to make their views known,” the secretary told students at Pleckgate. “Each individual all over the world has the God-given right to express themselves. I’m not just going to visit places where people agree with me. That would be really unfortunate.”

At a plant for BAE Systems, which is working on the U.S.-led Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) combat jet, Miss Rice said that differences with Britain over the sensitive issue of defense technology transfers were being dealt with.

The head of British military procurement told Congress last month that Britain would have to cancel plans to buy the Lockheed Martin Corp.’s next-generation F-35 JSF unless it could do its own upgrades, including software, once the jets enter service.

“We are working on any problems about technology sharing,” Miss Rice said. “It’s a complicated matter. Everyone wants to protect technology … but these issues are being worked out as they should, among friends.”

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