PEEK

Is Condoleezza Rice Smarter Than a 4th Grader?

Misha Lerner, a Washington-area fourth-grader, asks Rice about torture.

Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice ran into a little trouble in April during a discussion with students at Stanford University, during which she denied waterboarding is torture and was necessarily legal because the president authorized the abusive techniques.

Yesterday, Rice was pressed on the same issue by another student, though this one was quite a bit younger.

...Misha Lerner, a student from Bethesda, 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? [...]

"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: "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."

Misha Lerner, a Washington-area fourth-grader, apparently intended to ask a more pointed question about torture, but his mother said "they" asked the student to "soften" his question.

Steve Benen is "blogger in chief" of the popular Washington Monthly online blog, Political Animal. His background includes publishing The Carpetbagger Report, and writing for a variety of publications, including Talking Points Memo, The American Prospect, the Huffington Post, and The Guardian. He has also appeared on NPR's "Talk of the Nation," MSNBC's "Rachel Maddow Show," Air America Radio's "Sam Seder Show," and XM Radio's "POTUS '08."
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