Former Sec. of State Condi Rice recently took questions from a few dozen students at the Jewish Primary Day Schools. A 4th grader asked Rice what she thought about what the Obama administration was saying about the Bush administration’s use of enhanced interrogation techniques. A 4th grader asked a question about torture. For people who think that morality doesn’t matter, think about that for a moment.
According to the Washington Post, Misha Lerner asked, “What did Rice think about the things President Obama’s administration was saying about the methods the Bush administration had used to get information from detainees?” Rice said that she was reluctant to criticize Obama, but she also used the 9/11 excuse to defend torture.
She answered, “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,” she said. “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.”
She added that the Bush was terrified after 9/11, “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.”
The real mind bender is that this was the child’s original question, “If you would work for Obama’s administration, would you push for torture?” His mom said that he was asked to soften it, and remove the word torture. Interestingly, the kids’ questions were unscreened, which meant that those children had better access to the Bush administration than the media did for 8 years.
For people who argue that the moral issue doesn’t matter, I think this exchange is proof that it does. Children are more aware of events than adults give them credit for, and setting a good example does matter. Before someone suggests that the young man’s question was a plant, or written by his parents, the students worked on their questions at school, and it was his school that requested that young Mr. Lerner soften his question.
Morality matters, and when administrations enact policies with questionable morals, it has an impact. Rice essentially admitted that al-Qaeda won on 9/11. The goal of terrorism is to inflict fear, and that is what Bin Laden was successful in doing to the Bush administration. Her answer demonstrated what a bunch of weak kneed cowards, they were. America needed a president that would stand up to terrorists, not cower in fear, or a VP that hid in an undisclosed location.