Confirmed victory

As a member of the Rutgers College Class of 1991 (That's me as a RU student in the photo.), I was shocked to learn that my alma mater plans to honor Condoleezza Rice with a "Doctor of Laws" degree.  This member of the George W. Bush Administration used lies to rush our nation into an unjust, costly war that killed hundreds of thousands people.  She also used twisted legal arguments to justify torture and other “cruel and unusual punishment" banned by the U.S. Constitution.  How can Rutgers honor this individual who flaunted the highest law of the land with an honorary law degree?  Please urge Rutgers President Barchi, the Rutgers Board of Trustees, and the Rutgers Board of Governors to withdraw this shameful offer.

I love Rutgers and do not want to see it make this awful mistake!  During my four years as a Political Science major at RU, I learned about the U.S. Constitution, human rights, and international law.  My education there formed the foundation for my further academic and professional success, and I went on to earn a Ph.D. at CUNY Graduate Center by writing a dissertation on human rights advocacy in El Salvador.

Condoleezza Rice's tenure as National Security Adviser and Secretary of State demonstrated contempt for these values and damaged our nation’s image around the world.  Sadly, Rutgers now endangers its own reputation by celebrating Ms. Rice’s lies and her support of torture.  Please tell the President Barchi, the Rutgers University Board of Governors, and the Rutgers University Board of Trustees that it is not too late to correct this terrible mistake!

If Rutgers goes through with the plans to honor Ms. Rice, it will tell other government officials that they can feel free to follow her example.  They can make up any excuse they want to start a war and send our soldiers into danger.  They can support this excuse with false information obtained through torture.  And they can feel comfortably safe—above the law.  It will also dishonor Rutgers University's mission as an institution promoting the search for truth and knowledge.

Please sign this petition before the next Board of Trustees meeting on March 13, 2014 and the next Board of Governors meeting on April 1, 2014.  It would be very helpful if you would identify any affiliation you have with Rutgers (student, faculty, alumni, parent, etc.)


Letter to
Care of Leslie A. Fehrenbach, Secretary of the University Rutgers University Board of Trustees
Care of Leslie A. Fehrenbach, Secretary of the University Rutgers University Board of Governors
President of Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey Rutgers University President Robert Barchi
We, the undersigned, are deeply disturbed by the news that Rutgers University plans to award an honorary “Doctor of Laws” degree to Condoleezza Rice, who served as National Security Adviser and Secretary of State during the George W. Bush Administration.

Many of the undersigned are Rutgers students, faculty, or alumni. All of us care about human rights and do not want to see a respected university lend its good name and credibility to someone who played a pivotal role in launching an unjust war and promoting torture. In doing so, Rutgers University not only helps Ms. Rice. It also damages its own image and credibility. We urge you to rescind this offer because Rice’s actions in office demonstrate a lack of honor and contempt for the highest law of the nation, the United States Constitution.

Condoleeza Rice played a major role in the Bush Administration’s efforts to deceive Congress and the public into going to war against Iraq in a “preemptive strike” on the grounds that Saddam Hussein was close to acquiring nuclear weapons. On September 8, 2002, for example, Rice told CNN that Iraq had acquired aluminum tubes that were “only really suited for nuclear weapons programs” and drew the alarmist conclusion, “we don't want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud." Yet on August 17, 2001, she had already received a memo from the Department of Energy (DoE) that discredited this argument. Details of the DoE’s evidence against this theory are available from the Union of Concerned Scientists at

Truth may be the first casualty of war, but the lies told by Ms. Rice and other members of the Bush Administration led to many, many more human casulaties. This rush to war resulted in the deaths of thousands of U.S. soldiers and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis—many of them civilians—or, as Ms. Rice prefers to call them, “collateral damage.” Countless other soldiers returned home to the United States with severe physical and emotional trauma. The resulting destabilization in the region allowed terrorists to move into Iraq and to recruit new members from around the world.

Another important lie that the Bush Administration used to justify the invasion of Iraq was that Saddam Hussein was behind the terrorist attacks against the United States on September 11, 2001. Much of the so-called “evidence” of Hussein’s guilt came from statements made by 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed—statements he made while be subjected to waterboarding. This technique and other forms of torture have a long history of use by totalitarian regimes such the Soviet Union, China, and North Korea regimes to extract false confessions and other untrue statements for propaganda purposes.

Unfortunately, Ms. Rice supported the Administration’s use of these so-called “enhanced interrogations.” In 2005 Amnesty International reported, “Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice refused, for example, to describe practices such as submerging detainees underwater to the point of making them believe they will drown – "waterboarding" – as torture.” In 2009, the Washington Post reported, that Rice justified waterboarding because “if it was authorized by the president, it did not violate our obligations under the Conventions Against Torture." Clearly, someone who puts forward such a twisted argument—in direct opposition to the Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment—does not deserve to be honored as a “Doctor of Laws.” Rather, Ms. Rice is someone who has engaged in “doctoring” the law to make it suit her own ends.

Ms. Rice and other members of the Bush Administration also showed a complete lack of honor by attempting to blame low-level members of the U.S. Armed Forces for the abuses that did become public, such as the torture at Abu Ghraib. Clearly, anyone who obeyed illegal orders to torture prisoners violated the law. That does not mean, however, that the political leaders who created the arguments for these crimes are any less responsible for giving those orders and for creating a climate in which torture was considered appropriate.

The torture that took place Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo Bay, and so-called “black sites” generated hatred against the United States and served as recruiting tools for Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups.

We therefore demand that President Barchi, the Rutgers University Board of Trustees, and the Rutgers University Board of Governors immediately rescind the offer of an honorary doctorate and the accompanying $35,000 speaking fee to Condoleezza Rice.