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Transcript: Day Two of Rice Testimony

I'm prepared, as I said last night, to work with Dr. Rice and all the colleagues on this committee to find the kind of bipartisanship that has always made America stronger. Historically, politics stopped at the water's edge. It ought to. But we haven't seen that kind of strength in these last years.

So I will work, I'll work with the administration, I'll reach out, and I'm confident that colleagues on both sides of the aisle will do the same.

_____Rice Hearings_____
Transcript: Day Two Testimony
Excerpts: Day 1 Testimony
Transcript: Post's Kessler on Rice

But while I recognized at the beginning of this hearing that Condoleezza Rice will be confirmed overwhelmingly by the United States Senate, it will have to be without my vote, for the reasons that I've stated.

KERRY: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

LUGAR: Thank you, Senator Kerry.

Let me just make a personal comment.

Part of Dr. Rice's responsibilities, which we all recognized, are to be a strong administrator of the Department of State. She has spent quality time to try to make certain that confidence could be built in the department. Secretary Powell certainly was remarkable in the leadership he gave in that respect.

And so I mention that part of the issue because it's one that we all have to be cognizant on this committee. We've talked about the support that she will need, the budgetary support, things that need to happen in our embassies abroad and our consulates, the security of our people. We touched upon these issues, which are not really a difference of the policy but really ones of emphasis.

And this committee should be an advocate for a strong budget. We've talked about the need for a strong authorization bill, the refashioning of various institutions sometimes that don't get looked at.

I see in Dr. Rice someone who is fully capable of making changes as required, of working and listening carefully to those who are a part of that department and in our embassies. And I admire that.

I appreciate the points made by members on both sides of the aisle with regard to the debate we've had for many years on American foreign policy. Certainly that has been found in this committee in abundance. And we have the responsibility to try to bring forward bipartisan support so there is one face for America.

And I think the committee has discharged that very well under the chairmanship of my friend, Joe Biden, and hopefully during the past two years.

I think this hearing was designed, really, for not only a ventilation of all of our views but a public opportunity for Dr. Rice and for the American people to understand the gravity of our concerns.

And as many of us have done throughout the hearing, we've underlined the concerns of each other so that there were, in fact, I think, times of recognition on the part of Dr. Rice that we have work to do, that there will be more conversations, more hearings, and there will need to be.

At the end of the day, she does have very strong confidence of the president of the United States. And it's a unique relationship.

I'm not certain that I saw the very beginning of it, but I think I saw a part of that in visits to Stanford University to see my friend, and our former secretary of state, George Shultz at a time that Dr. Rice was serving as chancellor of the university.

For a variety of reasons, George Shultz came to the conclusion that, at least on the Republican Party side, that George Bush was the best bet.

LUGAR: And so, as a result, he gave very strong support to the candidacy of the governor of Texas. And, perhaps through his intercession, involved Dr. Rice in having a role at least as an adviser, sometimes suggested as a tutor, mentor, but someone who proceeded really through the primary campaigns and the election of that time. And that trust has been built over many years.

She does have the ear of the president.

Now, each one of you have raised questions as to what she will tell the president. She affirmed today that she tells the president what's on her mind, and sometimes he agrees and sometimes he disagrees. Each one of us less frequently has had that opportunity, and most of us have availed ourselves in very candid ways, advising to the best of our ability our president what we believe is the thing to do.

But I see at least in Dr. Rice and the conversations that I've enjoyed with her, sometimes with Senator Biden, sometimes with other members of the committee, a degree of openness to listen, a loyalty to the president so there is not immediate acquiescence or commitment, but at least an opportunity to, sort of, move the policy along.

And I saw in her discussion today of the nation-building issue, now called reconstruction or whatever, a very large change.

President Bush, in his first few speeches on foreign policy, indicated we were not involved in nation building and that was the generally held view of many people, some on both sides of the aisle, simply because that degree of commitment was not involved.

And when Chairman Biden held hearings before the war on Iraq, we heard from many witnesses. When we asked how long will we be there, the witnesses said, some in the administration, some previous administration, "Not very long, because we'll be embraced by the Iraqi people; they'll proceed on to democracy and we'll be out of there. Our role is not one of building and hand-holding and so forth."

We've had a 180 change in this world, and we all understand, having seen Afghanistan and elsewhere, how profound that change has been.

LUGAR: And Dr. Rice did acknowledge that, enthusiastically trying to build something that we're going to have to help with to make sure it has the right personnel cadre that are there for whatever the contingencies may be.

So I look forward to supporting her nomination today, and when we have vote of the full Senate. And even more importantly to working with her, to expressing to her as candidly as we did today things that we think are important and trying to make available for members of the committee those opportunities so that we have a sharing as constantly and as consistently as possible.

And so let me just conclude by saying that I'm hopeful that members will give her strong support with their votes today. But even if not then, with their support and their good advice in months to come.

Senator Dodd?

DODD: Well, thank you, Mr. Chairman.

And let me -- because I presume others may want to, not make public statements here today, want to have some remarks included in the record. So I'd ask unanimous consent that any and all members be allowed to express their views here. And I'd ask unanimous consent that comments I have be included in the record. I'll leave it there.

First of all, let me begin by saying if I had my druthers this morning, the chair to my right would be vacant and I would have listened to someone else before this committee at some date seeking the job of secretary of state.

And possibly even the chair to my left might have been vacant as well in some circumstance.

I began my membership on this committee 24 years ago. I'm watching this new freshman from Illinois -- and by the way, you handled yourself brilliantly, I thought, during the last day and a half. Very proud to have you as a member of the committee, along with Senator Martinez and Senator Murkowski.

But I sat in that chair, Al Haig was the nominee under the Reagan administration.

DODD: Senator Sarbanes, Senator Biden, Senator -- the chairman of the committee were present at that time. And so I've been through a number of these hearings over the last 24 years. I think I've counted, I think seven secretaries of state in that period of 24 years, that have been before this committee.

I always begin with the presumption that elected presidents ought to have their official families, their Cabinets. It should begin with that presumption. I don't do the same in judicial nominations, but I certainly do when it comes to having the people around you who are going to express and carry out the policies as you described, as they've articulated them.

And I do that here in this case as well. And I intend, on that basis, to vote for this nominee.

Having said that, I want to thank Senator Boxer and Senator Kerry.

Others may take the same view they have of this nomination, but I think the chairman has said it well and the ranking member has said it well. This is a very important service we provide to the American public through a confirmation hearing.

However the votes are cast, those who've watched the hearings and as they've been reported, it's one of the unique opportunities we get to really examine as thoroughly as we would like a broad array of issues that affect the interest of this nation.

And whatever you may feel about the votes we cast here, I think the senators who have raised the criticisms and the expressions made by my colleagues from California and Massachusetts have provided invaluable service. Because they've raised serious questions about past policies of this administration and where they will take this nation over the next four years.

I was deeply troubled by the unwillingness of Dr. Rice just very candidly and simply to answer the question about torture. It's troubling to me. Because as others said, it's not just the president of the United States that's the face of American foreign policy, but the secretary of state, as well. And simple statements that they make can say so much about who we are as a people, what direction we want to go in as a nation as we begin this 21st century.

Troubled, as well, about a lack of interest that I suspect did exist when it comes to Latin America. And again, I thank my colleague from Florida, my colleague from Rhode Island for spending the last week -- more than a week -- traveling in the region to try and understand better the needs of this part of the world and how we can, in a cooperative and constructive way, make a difference, begin to turn a new page, look for new ways to establish new relationships that'll advance the interests of our own nation.

So, Mr. Chairman, I thank you for your patience. As Senator Kerry and Senator Boxer have pointed out, you've conducted a wonderful hearing. It's been a pleasure to serve with you over these last 24 years in this committee.

And I hope that Dr. Rice -- that she listened carefully to what Senator Boxer was saying and Senator Kerry and Senator Biden and Senator Obama, members on this side. We need to get back to building this bipartisanship in foreign policy. It is critical.

The problems we face are international in scope. They require cooperation. We've done it in the 20th century. We need to do it in the 21st century.

And so I'm going to take the side of supporting this nominee with all the reservations that have expressed, because I want to begin with a sense of optimism, that maybe we can go in a bit of a different direction on these pressing issues before us.

DODD: And I look forward to working with her. I hope she does reach out to the minority, work with the majority and this committee to try and help forge a more constructive and thoughtful foreign policy for the 21st century.

LUGAR: Thank you, Senator.

Senator Biden?

BIDEN: Mr. Chairman, thank you very much.

Thank you, and I thank, Dr. Rice, in absentia for being willing to be here as long as it would take.

I don't second-guess the motives of any senator and how they vote. I respect the senator from California and Massachusetts, and I could easily see how I could go that way.

But I want to make one clerical point. We did have extensive hearings prior to the war in the brief period when I was chairman. Then you followed through with even better hearings on whether or not to go to war. And it is true that former administration witnesses came forward from Weinberger on saying this would be a slam dunk -- didn't use the word "slam dunk," but we'd be greeted with open arms, this would be fairly quick, we didn't have to worry about nation building.

And you raised extensively questions about duration. But the vast majority of the witnesses we had said, "This is going to take years upon years." That's why the title of the report -- I believe it's the title of the report that was issued after our series of hearings when I was chairman, was not the day after, but the decade after -- the decade after.

You and I and Senator Hagel and others on this side talked about this was going to be a gigantic commitment and we should get ready for it.

Which leads me to this point: I think we're going to rue the day when we -- the administration acknowledges that they failed to level with the American people about what was required of the American people in order to make this policy work.

BIDEN: I know I've said it a thousand times, and I'm going to say it a thousand more times: No foreign policy can be sustained without the informed consent of the American people. And that means the whole deal.

I thought Senator Boxer was really articulate in making the point about half-truths.

I'm a practicing Catholic, which I guess, as a Democrat, is getting harder to be, but I'm a practicing Catholic. I went through Catholic grade school. And I remember when we were learning to receive the sacrament of penance, where we go -- that's when Catholics go in confessionals, as some of my Catholic friends know, and confess our sins, which I still do because I still have many to confess.

(LAUGHTER)

And I'll never forget the pastor in St. Helena's (ph) School, where I was a student, taught by the Sisters of St. Joseph, trying to explain when you go to confession, to explain this to a grade school kid, you got to tell the whole truth. And he gave the following example.

He said, "Johnny went to confession and said, 'Bless me, Father, for I have sinned. This is my first confession, and I want to tell you the sins I've committed.'" And he said, "Then Johnny proceeded to say, 'I did something very bad. I stole something.'"

And Father said, "What did you steal, Johnny?"

He said, "I stole a gold chain."

He said, "Well, Johnny, are you sorry for that?"

And he said, "I am heartily sorry, Father, I'm heartily sorry for it, but I lost the chain, and I can't give it back."

So the priest admonished him, and then said, "Say three 'Our Fathers' and three 'Hail Marys' and be a good boy." And Johnny left.

And then Father learned that there was a gold watch attached to that chain. Johnny told the truth -- he stole a chain -- but there was a gold watch on the end of the chain.

BIDEN: Johnny didn't tell Father that part; and he still had the watch.

So Father went on to say, "When you go to confession, tell the whole deal. 'I not only stole the chain, there was a gold watch hooked to the chain.'"

And this administration, first of all, it doesn't go to confession, nor should it have to, but it hasn't told the whole story about what we face.

And I hope I'm wrong -- I've been here -- I hate to admit it, I've been here 32 years. I go back a long way in secretaries of state. Kissinger was national security adviser when I got here; wasn't even secretary of state yet.

And I am very concerned that the American people, when the going gets even rougher, which it will, may say, "Hey, guys, you don't know what you're talking about. We want to get out of there. Get out."

And I'll make you all a bet -- I doubt whether anybody would disagree with me -- we leave before the job is done, we will have a generational problem -- a generational problem in the Middle East. It will be chaos. The likelihood of the Saudi kingdom remaining I think is problematic. The Jordanians will be under incredible stress. The Turks and the Kurds may very well go to war over time. It will be a disaster.

Hope I'm wrong. Hope everybody gets to say, "Biden, you said if we lose this before the American people leave prematurely that all these things are going to happen and they didn't happen." Hope I'm wrong.

You're all politicians. You all know what your folks are saying at home. How many folks are saying at home what you know is the truth, "We've got to send more forces?"

BIDEN: How many folks are home saying, "Let's really stay the course here?" Some are. But the ones who are doing it, I think, because they believe the president's told them the whole deal.

"We got 120,000 trained troops. We don't really need to have any more significant expenditure there. We, in fact, don't even have to include Iraq in the budget; it's going to take care of itself. And by the way, things are getting better all through from June through December. Everything's fine in Iraq. It's getting better."

(inaudible) American people because they like him, as I like him.

"I guess the president's leveled with us, man. What's the matter with you, Joe? You go over there to Iraq and you come back and say, 'Geez, it's not that good.' The president says it's fine."

And with regard to advancing freedom, if I can -- forgive me, my colleagues, although the future secretary of state likes football, so she wouldn't mind the analogy. Senator Allen, whose father is one of the greatest pro coaches in my lifetime, so I suspect he knows a lot more about it than I do, Senator Allen -- this George Allen.

If I can continue the football analogy, he said, "We want to advance freedom." If I can make a football analogy, we want to score when we're on the team. But if the offense you're running isn't working, you've only gained a total of 74 yards in the first three quarters and there's been four interceptions and the defense is riddled with holes because you're running a nickel defense that's not working against this quarterback, what you want to ask, at least at half time is, "Hey, it ain't working. We're losing. What's the plan, Stan? What's the game plan? Are you going out with that nickel defense? Are you going to stop trying to run the ball up the middle? Are you going to move in the outside and run counter plays? What's the deal? What are you going to do? How are you going to score?"

So everybody here wants freedom. We want to advance freedom. But a lot of us think advancing freedom by wishing that if we just make it available to you and you see it you will rise up and embrace it.

BIDEN: I don't think it works that way.

So what we need is a Coach George Allen. We need a game plan.

And all we're looking for here, to continue this silly analogy, is for a game plan on training. What's the game plan? Just tell me the plan. What is the game plan? What you have now, everybody acknowledges, is not working. What's the game plan?

What's the game plan on Iran? What's the game plan on Iraq? You want us to support you, Mr. President, and I want to support you. We want to have a bipartisan foreign policy. As my friends can tell you, I often get beat up in our caucus because I'm not more critical of the president in the caucus. I want to help. But we need a game plan. Iran. Russia.

And how are we going to do what everyone, including Dr. Rice, says need to be done. What's Dr. Rice saying by implication or directly? We have to repair our relations around the world.

Diplomacy will be the watchword. Did any of you hear any plan on diplomacy?

I've submitted to the president, and others have, I think it's about a 15-, 16-page game plan on public diplomacy he seemed to like a lot. Other people submitted other plans. The president has his own. What's the plan? What are we going to do? I didn't hear a thing, other than the hortatory assertions that, "We want to do this."

But I don't want to dwell on my disappointments as a result of Dr. Rice's testimony.

I must tell you, the thing that stunned me most is either her lack of willingness to talk about it or her lack of understanding of the impact of the economy on foreign policy. I was literally stunned when asked the question, "Do you want the dollar to be a currency reserve for the rest of the world or the euro?" and she said she didn't have an opinion on that.

BIDEN: I'm paraphrasing. Whoa! That's the secretary of Treasury's job.

Well, but, I'll conclude, Mr. Chairman, by saying optimism is an occupational requirement in this business. And my job is the same as every other senator here, no more, but it's slightly different. My job is, as the Democratic rep on this committee, is to hopefully to continue to have a relationship with whoever the secretary of state is. I think it's harder when you vote no.

I like her. I've been disappointed, but I think the obligation that I have -- every other senator can judge it for themselves. For me, in my particular role, is to be able to work with her where we can because I do think she has the president's ear.

And I hope she gains some of -- I hope she's willing to take on some of the neoconservative notions in this administration. And maybe this is -- you know, the wish is the father of the thought.

Maybe she is a neoconservative; I don't know. But if she's not, I hope she confronts some of the premises upon which this is based.

And that's the reason I asked her yesterday, Mr. Chairman, about the stories in The New Yorker by Hersh, who's a pretty solid guy, saying that we already have teams in there trying to figure out how to take down the nuclear reactors.

I, coincidentally, had George Tenet in Delaware last night for four hours, rode up on the train with him. He made the obvious point, without him declaring anything that I didn't already know or you don't already know. They've gotten smart. It's diverse. It's all over the country. There ain't no one rocket shot we can take out like the Israelis did before. That does not exist as a possibility.

The reason I asked her the question was not about her confirming whether they're in there or not. I wanted to ask her the underlying point. The premise that neocons have, if this is being done -- some of our neoconservative friends -- is not that you'll destroy all the nuclear capacity, but that that will cause the freedom-loving people of Iran to rise up and throw out the clerical oppression. That's the basic fundamental premise.

I hope to God she doesn't believe that and I hope to God if she doesn't believe it, she'll be -- if anyone presents such a plan to the president, she says, "Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, wait a minute. Let's get real here. Let's get real here."

That's the reason I asked the question.

And you know, Mr. President, we who do foreign policy every day, we sometimes -- especially the people we deal with, we sometimes think that -- we have a whole different vocabulary, you know?

We talk in terms and phrases that makes what we do sound really important. We talked about the first tranche of the agreement and the second tranche and we talk about have a bilat with so and so.

BIDEN: We ought to start to speak simple English.

All foreign policy is a logical extension of human relationships with a whole hell of a less information to go on. So let's start talking to the American people that way.

And the president is extremely good at that if he chooses to do it.

Now, I'll end, Mr. President, with this point: I thought that Senator Kerry was eloquent when he said how he chooses to view this question. And it reminded me, and I hope I'm quoting it correctly, because I try to quote everybody -- that is that he said, "I choose to believe."

Well, I remember a quote from Samuel Johnson, who was talking about second marriages. And Samuel Johnson said, "Anyone who marries a second time is choosing the triumph of hope over experience." That was Samuel Johnson's comment.

Well, this is a second administration. And I acknowledge I am choosing the triumph of hope over experience.

My experience that the first four years of this administration has not been real good in terms of what I think their policies are. And my experience with Dr. Rice in this hearing has been a disappointment.

But I choose hope over experience. Because at the end of the day, the Constitution says, as my friend from Connecticut says, the president gets to propose and we dispose. And we all are required, as responsible senators from both sides of the aisle, to choose the standard by which we'll make that judgment.

And my standard has always been, with regard to a Cabinet, the president's entitled to his family, even if they're substantively wrong. The only time we vote against Cabinet appointees is when they're appointed to dismantle that Cabinet they're being appointed to.

That's why I voted against Reagan nominees for Department of Education because Reagan said, as the former secretary would say, he choose to eliminate the Department of Education. So I wasn't going to be complicitious in voting for someone whose job was to dismantle the Department of Education.

And I also voted against people who I thought were incompetent in their mastery of the subject that they had to deal with, or people whose reputation and character was not worthy of a vote.

BIDEN: On all that score, in no sense does Dr. Rice rise to any of those prohibitions, in my view, how I'd do it. So I'm going to vote for Dr. Rice.

But I pray to the Lord that she's at least telling the president, "Hey, Boss, it's not going that well. Hey, Boss, we don't have that many people trained. Hey, Boss, the Iranians aren't going to rise up if some of our special forces guys take out a nuclear facility. Hey, Boss, you ought to read a little bit of history."

It's really that basic. I'm not trying to be a wise guy. It's that basic.

And so, Mr. Chairman, I thank you for your patience. But as you would acknowledge, this is -- other than voting for the Supreme Court, or a -- the third branch of the government, I think this and the secretary of defense jobs are the two most important jobs we vote on.

And I thank you and I look forward to working with you and Dr. Rice.

She's always been available when I have asked her for her view. But I was disappointed in this hearing.

LUGAR: Well, thank you, Senator Biden.

This is an important vote, and I hope we're prepared for the vote. And if so, I'll ask the clerk to call the roll.

CLERK: Mr. Hagel?

HAGEL: Aye.

CLERK: Mr. Chafee?

CHAFEE: Aye.

CLERK: Mr. Allen?

ALLEN: Aye.

CLERK: Mr. Coleman?

COLEMAN: Aye.

CLERK: Mr. Voinovich?

LUGAR: Votes aye by proxy.

CLERK: Mr. Alexander?

ALEXANDER: Aye.

CLERK: Mr. Sununu?

SUNUNU: Aye.

CLERK: Ms. Murkowski?

MURKOWSKI: Aye.

CLERK: Mr. Martinez?

MARTINEZ: Aye.

CLERK: Mr. Biden?

BIDEN: Aye.

CLERK: Mr. Sarbanes?

BIDEN: Aye by proxy.

CLERK: Mr. Dodd?

DODD: Aye.

CLERK: Mr. Kerry?

KERRY: No.

CLERK: Mr. Feingold?

FEINGOLD: Aye.

CLERK: Ms. Boxer?

BOXER: No.

CLERK: Mr. Nelson?

NELSON: Aye.

CLERK: Mr. Obama?

OBAMA: Aye.

CLERK: Mr. Chairman?

LUGAR: Aye.

Will the clerk please tally the count?

CLERK: Sixteen yeas, two nays.

LUGAR: Sixteen yeas, two nays. The committee votes to report the nomination to the Senate floor.

I thank all senators.

END


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