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There isn't much more to California than palm trees and sun — or so it seems to a European. Sure, the state is the most populous in the US and is known for the diversity of its population. But you don't find much proof of a rich cultural history that has grown over centuries. Some see this as the state's peculiar appeal — you have the freedom to be whoever you want at any given moment. Others view this as potential peril — people seem to live removed from traditional values. In California, it seems, opinions are formed as a result of "anything goes". 

How does a state like this react to a bit of controversy? Condoleezza Rice's return to Stanford University, where she last served as Provost (1993-2000), is a case in point. 

The former Secretary of State had quietly returned to Stanford as a professor of political science and a Senior Fellow at the university's Hoover Institution during the winter term. In mid-April, however, the peace and quiet disappeared when the media reported Rice's approval, in a 2002 memo to the then CIA chief George Tenet, of the use of waterboarding, before eventually crossing it off the list of interrogation techniques in 2005. According to the reports, Rice defended waterboarding, saying it did not constitute torture under the United Nations Convention, signed by the US in 1988. At first, the report seemed like old news and did not get much attention at Stanford, despite some pressure from within the Democratic Party to have an official investigation. The situation heated up when undergraduates questioned Rice, a former key player in an administration unpopular with students, about its interrogation techniques. The ensuing controversy, however, turned out not to be a political issue, but rather a tale about the intellectual life of a generation of students who wholeheartedly embrace the idea of change associated with the Obama administration.

The tale begins in an unassuming student hall of residence. Rice had agreed to dine with some of its residents. At the after-dinner discussion, Rice defended her stance on interrogation techniques. A student secretly recorded this and uploaded it to YouTube. The next day, the student newspaper ran a story about the event, under the headline "Rice defends waterboarding". The outrage was echoed in the national media, which followed up the story. On his blog, ABC's George Stephanopoulos wrote that it was the first time since the release of Justice Department memos that anyone had got "Condie" Rice on the record about the Bush administration's interrogation tactics. The Atlantic magazine blogger Andrew Sullivan labelled the video Rice's "Nixon moment", because of her declaration that waterboarding did not violate domestic or international law by definition because it had been cleared by the President. This was Nixon's defence of Watergate in his interview with David Frost. 

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December 4th, 2012
1:12 AM
A Leftist "intellectual" is a contradiction in terms! Academia should be burnt to the ground. Amerikkka sucks, but they'll never leave. Closed-minded, dogmatic, judgmental, affluent hypocrites, the lot of them.

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