Town Square

Hoover director defends Rumsfeld appointment

Original post made on Nov 8, 2007

John Raisian, director of the Hoover Institution at Stanford, met with the university's Faculty Senate Thursday afternoon to answer questions about his controversial appointment of former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to a one-year post as a "distinguished visiting fellow."

Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, November 8, 2007, 6:46 PM


Posted by Graham Anderson, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 8, 2007 at 7:48 pm

The problem here is twofold--that Rumsfeld's career is being considered independently of his most recent crimes and immoral leadership, and that the Hoover Institution is allowed to make decisions that affect the Stanford community without first consulting the Stanford community.

It is usually not the policy of any academic institution to harbor people who have led organizations that comitted torture. However, the US military, under Rumsfeld's leadership as Secretary of Defense, did commit torture at Abu Ghraib, and potentially at Guantanamo Bay.

A more trivial point is this: Whether or not you agree with the conclusion that Rumsfeld led an organization that comitted torture, Rummsfeld's appointment is very upsetting to the Stanford community. Perhaps it is just the war crimes that upset most people. Perhaps in addition, some are upset that a university that stands for learning, knowledge, and insight should support a man who has very publicly stood for unjustified preemptive war, violence, and profiteering. Some would argue that violence and war and incompatible with learning and knowledge.

Regardless of the cause of the university community's reaction, the Hoover Institute should not be able to affect public life at Stanford to such a degree without the university having any oversight of the Insitute's actions and appointments. Appointments to the Hoover Institution should be subject to the same standards of scrutiny and review that are applied to academic appointments at the university. This does not mean and end to the Hoover Institution's autonomy. Academic departments at Stanford virtually make their own hiring decisions, with only nominal approval by the university. Rather, putting Hoover under the same standards as the rest of the university would make Hoover accountable. In the future, surprising and shocking appointments such as Rumsfeld's could be avoided.

Governance aside, and, for now, politics aside, Rumsfeld failed at his job of defending the nation. He left his post in disgrace. He has no place at Stanford.

Posted by Gary, a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 8, 2007 at 8:05 pm

Rumsfeld is a very disnguished appointment. Hoover will be embellished, and the Stanford profs who opposed him will be dealt a diminished reputation going forward.

Rumsfeld helped, in a major way, to liberate Iraq. He is a big mind, and he thinks big, unlike his critics.

Posted by Joe Jezz, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 8, 2007 at 8:43 pm

Stanford University should pride itself in being an institution that values and encourages FREE SPEECH. Attempting to censor speech through a protest about Rumsfeld's appointment is small minded to say the least and underminds any pretense of a university that rspects differing views. If those faculty who signed the protest want to debate Rumsfeld in an open forum, be gracious and ask Mr. Rumsfeld to debate whatever question they would propose. Perhaps they are fearful that this very intelligent man would say something that maked sense but is antithetical to the liberal leaning and somewhat sheltered faculty at Stanford. Many faculty at Stanford are suffering from "educated incapacity"...a condition that prevent these over educated folks from understanding simple concepts. Stanford faculty need to take a step back, relax and try to figure out why they oppose free speech.

Posted by dead subject., a resident of Midtown
on Nov 8, 2007 at 8:45 pm

Agreed, Gary, but do you really want to go through all this AGAIN? I plan to just let the echo chamber effect take hold, and save my work for a new topic.

What percent of the Stanford "community" ( it having gone out to all the staff, professors, students, alumni and all their families) signed that petition? If I remember right, the percent was quite small...which does just the opposite of the intent, validating that in the Stanford "community's" eyes, many more times the people find value in the appointment than those who don't.

So, it is a dead subject.

Posted by Julia, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 8, 2007 at 9:38 pm

"Like it or not, he has had a distinguished career," Raisian said.

Distinguished for what? For criminality? (Yes.) For boundless hubris? (Oh, yes.) For destruction of U.S. moral authority? (You betcha.) But distinguished in any positive sense that one typically associates with admirable accomplishment and contribution to humankind? (Don't make me laugh.)

No, Mr. Raisian, Donald Rumsfeld's career is not "distinguished" in any way that reflects well upon your institution, or upon Stanford. You have welcomed an individual who has thumbed his nose at core American values, the Constitution, and the rule of law. He has disgraced our country and our democracy. Consequently, by your bringing him into your fold, you have brought disgrace to your institution.

Posted by Michelle, a resident of Greenmeadow
on Nov 8, 2007 at 11:59 pm

Someone should sell "Get out of Palo Alto, Donald Rumsfeld" tee-shirts. They would be a hot item.

Posted by Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of Midtown
on Nov 9, 2007 at 12:12 am

"It is usually not the policy of any academic institution to harbor people who have led organizations that comitted torture..." Unless it is communist or otherwise an enemy of the United States, like the Fair Play for Cuba and the rest of the anti groups that thrive on campuses. Abu Graib "torture" was well on the way to punishment before it became an issue, and the treatment of Gitmo prisoners is far more benevolent that the treatment of Folsom or San Quentin prisoners.
I grieve for the students exposed to this claptrap.

Posted by Punish These Bastards, a resident of Stanford
on Nov 9, 2007 at 1:20 am

It just occurred to be that the crime network which controls Rumsfeld likely staged this whole circus for a number of reasons, including identifying influential persons in the Stanford community who are opposed to the War on Muslims.

Posted by Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of Midtown
on Nov 9, 2007 at 5:08 am

Someone needs to replenish the aluminum foil in his hat.
If there is a war against Muslims why do we keep protecting Muslims from being slaughtered by other Muslims?

Posted by Insult for Insult, a resident of Stanford
on Nov 9, 2007 at 7:42 am

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.l]

Posted by D, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 9, 2007 at 12:25 pm

Show me an organization that is "communist or otherwise an enemy of the United States" that thrives at Stanford. There's no local Fair Play for Cuba chapter -- good example though, of a group that hasn't been in existence since 1963.
When it comes to the detentions, you've missed the boat, I'm sad to say.
To begin with, the detainees at Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib were not convicted of anything [America has always stood for innocent-until-proven-guilty]. Furthermore, they were tortured, plain and simple. Forcing someone to face off naked against an angry dog, forcing them to sit in a stress position for hours on end, depriving them of oxygen so that they feel like they are drowning, hooking their genitals up to car batteries -- these are not family activities for a lazy Sunday afternoon. They are torture, and they were inflicted upon detainees at Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib.
Torture is indefensible. It's degrading and dehumanizing to all parties involved. It's ineffective as an interrogation technique.

In fact, George Bush denounced some of these same atrocious acts in his 2003 State of the Union when describing the torture chambers of Saddam Hussein. He said of these methods of torture: "If this is not evil, then evil has no meaning."

Posted by sue, a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 9, 2007 at 12:55 pm

Why is there no ROTC at Stanford? They get federal money they should support our defense or give back the money.

Also I trust they are fully supporting military recruitment on campus.

Rumsfeld is an American hero who served in the military and has devoted his life to the protection of this country.

Posted by Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of Midtown
on Nov 9, 2007 at 3:38 pm

Why bother to take prisoners, then? I can attest from personal experience, Nov 26 1950, that prisoners are a bother. Making war against the United States is not a crime, it is war. Anyone who lacks the ability to comprehend the difference is beyond argument. If, as is the usual case, we could have killed the combatants in accordance with the rules of war, to suggest we can not, out of compassion, imprison them instead is absurd. Sorry, D., you get an F from me.

Posted by sue, a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 9, 2007 at 3:44 pm

Waterboarding is not torture as it does not kill or cripple.

it is part of the escape and evasion training for our troops.

Consider the fate of many inmates in state prison-- they are raped and

beaten by other prisoners all the time-- we know this, we do not call it torture and there is no huge protest about it.

Maybe we should just place terrorists among state prisoners for a

while until they tell us what we need to know?

and threaten others with this option.

Posted by D, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 9, 2007 at 5:35 pm

Walter, did you really just ask, "Why bother to take prisoners if you can't torture them?"
And sue, because inmates in the state pen brutalize each other, our soldiers should be able to do so? In U.S. prisons, every inmate has been convicted of a crime. In Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib, they have not. Furthermore, do you think it should be the policy of the U.S. government to inflict extreme amounts of pain on anyone it wants? I'll tell you now, if it were you in that cell, I'd still say no.

I commend to your attention and article in the July 10-17, 2006, edition of the New Yorker called "The Agent". It profiles Ali Soufan, a Lebanese-American FBI agent as he investigated the U.S.S. Cole bombing. He got immense amounts of information by engaging a suspect in conversation and gaining his trust.

Posted by su, a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 9, 2007 at 5:37 pm

Look- - In WW2 we killed 100s of thousands of innocent German and

Japanese civilians through fire bombing cities to win the war and you

are worried about a trivial interrogation technique like water

boarding----simulated drowning ----that the terrorist can stop at any

time by telling us what we need to know to save American lives,

innocent AMERICAN lives

Who's side are you on in this war?

Posted by Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of Midtown
on Nov 9, 2007 at 7:04 pm

Sorry, D-, but the question was why take prisoners? I took my prisoners because prisoners are a valuable source of intelligence. If you cannot intrrogate prisoners they are more trouble than they are worth. In Gitmo and Abu, most of the prisoners were taken in combat with our troops. It is a violation of the Geneva Convention to tret prisoners as criminals unless they have committeed war crimes.
When you come up with a methodology to incarcerate people without coercion patent it, it would be worth billions.
You have to be real stupid to believe that enhanced interrogation measures are ineffective.

Posted by D, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 9, 2007 at 7:51 pm

What happens if the person you've got in custody isn't a terrorist after all? You pick up a guy whose name is the same as a guy on your watch list. Do you ask him if he's the guy you're looking for, just to make sure? Won't the terrorist tell you "No, there must be some mistake"?
OK, ask him where the bomb is. He tells you he doesn't know. Is that because he knows and doesn't want to tell you, or because he genuinely doesn't know? Waterboard him, pull out his fingernails, hook him up to a car battery -- he still says he doesn't know. How far do you go to get this information out of him -- information he doesn't have?

Now let's say that in the middle of the third week of beating the crap out of this guy, the police catch the real guy -- absolutely no doubt about it. What do you do with the guy you've got in custody? "Gee, I'm real sorry. No hard feelings?" Do you let him go? You beat the crap out of him for not telling you something he didn't know -- he can't be happy about that. If you let him out, he might start a militant group against you. Of course, he might dedicate his life to fighting injustice, but he might not.

Your cavalier attitude toward innocent civilians is deeply disturbing.How many innocent lives would you be willing to sacrifice to end the current conflict? Please, put a number on it.

Posted by The Retrogressive Spirit, a resident of Stanford
on Nov 9, 2007 at 8:19 pm


I daresay we value independence of thought, free expression, and representative government. Yet while you and I look to building nobler cities and creating more perfect forms of life, there are those among us who long for the days of tyrant and slave, of luxury and misery, of suppression of western culture.

Posted by Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of Midtown
on Nov 10, 2007 at 1:57 am

D- and Retro, there are also those who wish us dead irrespective of anything we say. If we apply criminal justice standards to fighting a war we lose, and the morality of a slave is worthless.

Posted by perspective, a resident of Midtown
on Nov 10, 2007 at 5:59 am

The hilarious part is that those who want to control America and force us all into one religion don't really care what political stripe you are! The ones who will object the most to the new order will be the leftists, because they will lose the most of what they value, the ability to do anything they want. Conservatives as a group are already living a bit more..well, ..conservatively.

Those who want to control us also laugh at our left wing calling humiliation, fear, and physical discomfort "torture". I would rather be "tortured" by Americans any day over any of the are fighting us. At least I would survive it, and there would be no violation of my body.

And I would get my religous accoutrements, and good food and drink.

Posted by Maimonides, a resident of Stanford
on Nov 10, 2007 at 10:51 am

Alan Dershowitz urges us to learn from the Nazis' success using torture:

Web Link

"There are some who claim that torture is a nonissue because it never works--it only produces false information. This is simply not true, as evidenced by the many decent members of the French Resistance who, under Nazi torture, disclosed the locations of their closest friends and relatives."

Posted by D, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 10, 2007 at 11:19 am

You see in sue's comments what happens when one compromises one's principles for victory at any cost -- it's alright to kill millions of INNOCENT Japanese and German civilians (but really, why limit yourself to the Japanese and Germans?). And yet sue tries to justify killing and torturing anyone who kills innocent Americans?
Shouldn't anyone who kills INNOCENT CIVILIANS be treated equally?

Posted by Gary, a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 10, 2007 at 12:30 pm

I would recommend a full read of Dershowitz's article as a WSJ opinion piece (posted by Marinodides). Here it is again, for convenience:

Web Link

Posted by D, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 10, 2007 at 1:59 pm

Walter, Gary, sue, and company,
I'm still looking for an answer from any of you to my scenario above. Dershowitz's article doesn't apply to that scenario because you don't get false information. Rather you get the truth, but it's not what you wanted to hear.

Posted by Victory, a resident of Stanford
on Nov 10, 2007 at 2:28 pm

We are at war to save American lives.We dropped the A bomb on Hiroshima in WW 2 to save American lives and we did.

We owe no apologies to anyone for that.

WW 2 was total war, the war in the pacific was particularly violent.

American troops were attacked by suicide bombers--Kamikazi pilots.

We took very few prisoners in that war we killed a lot of innocent people and we won.

We honor the veterans of that any other wars this Sunday.

The current war against Islamofascists is a total war like the pacific war except the enemy does not wear uniforms therefore the Geneva convention does not apply.

Captured terrorists should consider themselves already dead.

We should use water boarding and drugs like curare to break terrorist

when the is a credible threat to American lives.

The Islamofascists show not mercy-- we will show no mercy-- that is war.

The sooner we win and end it the better.

Posted by Gary, a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 10, 2007 at 2:32 pm



If I try to guess at your meaning, then I can only say that we are at war. To win a war, we need to attrit our enemies.

Posted by sue, a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 10, 2007 at 2:42 pm

The greatest crime we could commit would be to lose the war against Islamofascists.

Posted by Stanford's Shame, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 10, 2007 at 2:45 pm

The greater crime would be to win against the Isalmofacists, and destroy the core moral values that America was founded on.

Mssrs. Bush, Rumsfeld, Gonzalez, Cheney, Rove and others have put us on that slippery road, with gusto.

Posted by Gary, a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 10, 2007 at 3:01 pm


No need to worry, we can win and remain free, using moral methods, that fit the situation.

Sleep well. I do.

Posted by sue, a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 10, 2007 at 3:30 pm

Happy birthday to the MARINES


Posted by Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of Midtown
on Nov 10, 2007 at 4:01 pm

Don't worry your pretty little head, D-. Rough men stand between you and slavery. No need for you to lecture them, and us, on the manner to accomplish the dirty work of holding off the beast. Deny the knife to the surgeon, disdain if you will the men who carry out the garbage of civilization, but were it not for us you would be up to your ears in ofal. It is NOT moral to allow civilization to fail. It is not moral to lay down your arms and accept chains. It is immoral to accept the chaining of others.

Posted by D, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 10, 2007 at 10:51 pm

Way to not address the scenario I laid out on Nov 9, 2007 at 7:51 pm. What do you do with an innocent man? What if your identity is stolen and bought by a terrorist organization?

Posted by Chabad Lubavitch, a resident of Stanford
on Nov 10, 2007 at 11:30 pm

We've messed up Iraq, the dollar is in meltdown, and oil is $100 per barrel because Judeofascists are using USA as their personal attack dog.

Posted by Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of Midtown
on Nov 11, 2007 at 2:34 am

If you refrain from any action until you can guarantee 100%, you will do nothing. Good enough for government work has real meaning. We hope we have mechanisms to redress errors, but some things have to be done.

Posted by well said, Gary, a resident of Midtown
on Nov 11, 2007 at 7:22 am

Walter: That was perfectly said. Thank you. Innocent, kind, sweet people don't understand that the reason they are alive in order to be innocent, kind and sweet is because of the "rough men" of whom you speak.

We are a moral nation in war, doing all we can to avoid hurting and killing innocent people. Better an occasional, tragic as it is, error against an innocent person, than doing nothing against anyone and thousands more innocents suffer. That is all we can do.

The alternative is to jail nobody for fear of jailing an innocent person....which results in immoral, unnecessary pain to many more innocent humans.

Posted by Stick with the facts, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 11, 2007 at 1:47 pm

Sorry Walter:
The vast majority (about 95%)of Gitmo prisoners from Afghanistan were not picked up by US troops. Given the rewards offered by the US for Al-Queda and Taliban, there is a great deal of uncertainty as to whether or not those detainees did anything wrong. Of course, torture can always be used to extract a false confession.


Web Link

Web Link

Posted by Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of Midtown
on Nov 12, 2007 at 3:44 am

A statistically significant number of detainees released from Gitmo have subsequently been taken or killed in attacks on US troops. While it might satisfy some unwaranted sense of superiority to assume our troops are mindless robots, such an opinion is not supported by real world observations. There is no military value in keeping someone prisoner just to keep prisoners.

Posted by ., a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 12, 2007 at 8:59 am

Statistically significant?
Please, Walter_E_Wallis, let us have some NUMBERS!