About 150 protest veterans, who led the fight 40 years ago to dislodge Stanford University from the War in Vietnam, on Sunday called on Stanford to sever relations with former Provost Condoleezza Rice, arguing that she committed war crimes while on leave as Secretary of State.
They understand it’s a long shot: Stanford relishes having a former Secretary of State on the faculty and is unlikely to conclude, as a Faculty Advisory Board would have to, that while on leave, Rice engaged in false statements, misrepresentation of sources and a pattern of egregious intellectual dishonesty. Unless, of course, Rice is actually prosecuted for overseeing and approving of torture – which would require the Obama administration and/or Congress to hold Bush administration officials responsible for breaking the law.
Whether this happens or not, the anti-war left wants Rice to go. As longtime campus peace activist Rachelle Marshall put it at a panel discussion on Saturday: “Stanford is harboring a war criminal.”
The former students, faculty and outside agitators who gathered at Stanford this weekend were celebrating the 40th anniversary of the April 3rd Movement, in which a nine-day take-over of the Applied Electronics Laboratory and ensuing street protests brought an end to secret military research at Stanford.
That movement began in October 1968, when many of those now attending the reunion had nailed a document on the door of the trustees’ office demanding that Stanford “halt all military and economic projects and operations concerned with Southeast Asia.”
Recalling that moment, the veterans on Sunday delivered a petition from “Stanford Say No to War” that stated: “Our former Provost, current Political Science Professor, and Hoover Institution Senior Fellow, Condoleezza Rice, should be held accountable for any serious violations of the law (including ratified treaties, statutes and/or the U.S. Constitution) through investigation and, if the facts warrant, prosecution by appropriate legal authorities.”
A3M leader Marjorie Cohn, now president of the National Lawyers’ Guild, said, “By nailing this petition to the door of the president’s office, we are telling Stanford that the university should not have war criminals on its faculty. There is prima facie evidence that Rice approved torture and misled the country into the Iraq war. Stanford has an obligation to investigate those charges.”
Rice didn’t help herself when she was asked, at an earlier meeting with students, whether waterboarding is torture:
“The president instructed us that nothing we would do would be outside of our obligations, legal obligations, under the Convention Against Torture,” she replied. “So that’s — and by the way, I didn’t authorize anything. I conveyed the authorization of the administration to the agency . . .By definition, if it was authorized by the president, it did not violate our obligations under the Conventions Against Torture.”
As widely noted, her statement echoed Richard Nixon’s circular, self-referential Watergate logic: “When the president does it, that means that it is not illegal.” You can see the whole Rice exchange here.
Note: Calbuzzer Phil Trounstine was a member of A3M and participant in the 2009 reunion.