Condoleezza Rice speaks amid a crowd of torture protesters

Protesters asked the former secretary of state and national security adviser about torture policy.

Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice speaks at Beth El Synagogue in St. Louis Park Sunday as a part of a National Speaker Series.

Chelsey Rosetter

Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice speaks at Beth El Synagogue in St. Louis Park Sunday as a part of a National Speaker Series.

by Frank

Condoleezza Rice spoke at a synagogue in St. Louis Park Sunday, addressing issues related to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, terrorism and the spread of democracy in the Middle East. RiceâÄôs visit is part of Beth El SynagogueâÄôs national speaker series, which has included the likes of Dan Rather, Colin Powell and former President Bill Clinton, and acts as an important fundraiser for the community. âÄúThe only reason that we are able to fight for our freedoms is because there are those on the frontlines of freedom âĦâÄù Rice said in her speech. âÄúEspecially those men and women in uniform on the frontlines of freedom in places like Bosnia and Baghdad âĦâÄù Roughly 100 protestors demonstrated outside the synagogue behind a police barricade, chanting âÄúTorture isnâÄôt kosher,âÄù among other criticisms. They held banners and signs denouncing the use of torture and RiceâÄôs alleged involvement. However, former Sen. Norm Coleman attended the speech and was supportive of RiceâÄôs position. âÄúCondoleezza Rice is a brilliant woman with experience. I certainly like to hear her perspective and I hope that we can find peace in the Middle East,âÄù Coleman said. Rice served as the Secretary of State and National Security Adviser for the Bush administration. She now is a professor of political science and a senior fellow at Stanford University. In her speech, Rice said Israel is an important ally for the United States in the Middle East. She also focused on eliminating terrorism in the region and spreading democracy. âÄúEvery day, terrorists plotted and they planned,âÄù Rice said. âÄúWe had to recognize that they had to be right only once, and we had to be right 100 percent of the time and that was an unfair fight.âÄù During the question and answer segment that followed RiceâÄôs speech, she answered queries relating to the United StatesâÄô stance on the Iranian nuclear weapons program, Chinese-U.S. relations and the importance of education, among other topics. Kaitlyn Steffenhagen, a St. Louis Park High School senior, said Rice did not address questions about her involvement in authorizing torture during her role under the Bush administration, which angered some of the attendees. Rice has recently been asked by many to explain the Bush administrationâÄôs definition of torture and if waterboarding is considered torture. RiceâÄôs invitation divided the synagogue along traditional political lines. âÄúWhenever thereâÄôs a political speaker itâÄôs more divisive than if they perhaps pick a columnist or an author,âÄù congregation member Anne Devitt said. âÄúI think no matter which way you go politically, itâÄôs going to be a controversy.âÄù Larry Johnson, a member of Veterans for Peace, believes the Bush administrationâÄôs treatment of prisoners of war is hurt the United StatesâÄô reputation and gives the opposition the warrant to reciprocate. âÄúIâÄôm glad weâÄôre in a democracy where [people] can protest, and IâÄôm very glad that the people of Iraq and Kabul can too,âÄù Rice said as she was leaving the speech in response to the protesters.