Condoleezza Rice, under pressure from Rutgers University faculty and students, has stepped down as commencement speaker at this year's ceremony.
As TruthRevolt previously reported, a resolution was drafted in March by the Faculty Council blaming Rice for her part in the Bush administration's "lies" surrounding the second Iraq war, weapons of mass destruction and the use of waterboarding as an interrogation technique. The resolution called for Rice to be barred from speaking. However, Rutgers officials remained firm in their choice saying Rice is a "highly accomplished and respected diplomat."
But on Saturday morning, Rice relented to pressure from faculty and students and announced her withdrawal saying she did not want to be a "distraction." A report from National Review states that earlier this week, students held signs reading, "No honors for war criminals" and "War criminals out" inside the university president's office.
Here is Rice's full statement:
Commencement should be a time of joyous celebration for the graduates and their families. Rutgers’ invitation to me to speak has become a distraction for the university community at this very special time.
I am honored to have served my country. I have defended America’s belief in free speech and the exchange of ideas. These values are essential to the health of our democracy. But that is not what is at issue here. As a Professor for thirty years at Stanford University and as it’s former Provost and Chief academic officer, I understand and embrace the purpose of the commencement ceremony and I am simply unwilling to detract from it in any way.
Good luck to the graduates and congratulations to the families, friends and loved ones who will gather to honor them.