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Sorting out the truth in politics

PolitiFact: Sen. Boxer revises history, comments in attack on Condoleezza Rice

The statement

"I asked (then-Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice) how many people had died and she did not know the answer to that question."

Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., in an Aug. 31 interview

The ruling

During an Aug. 31 meeting with the San Francisco Chronicle's editorial board, California Sen. Barbara Boxer was asked about a controversial comment she made in 2007 to then-Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice about Rice not paying a "personal price" in the Iraq war because she did not have any immediate family members serving in the military.

"The issue is, 'Who pays the price?' I'm not going to pay a personal price. My kids are too old. My grandchild is too young. You're not going to pay the price, as I understand it, with immediate family. So who pays the price? The American military and their families," Boxer said during the 2007 Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing.

Rice and a number of pundits later claimed Boxer's comment was an unfair jab because Rice didn't have children.

Fast-forward to the editorial board meeting, where Boxer said her words were twisted: "I asked her how many people had died and she (Rice) did not know the answer to that question. And since we had lost a lot of Californians, I was concerned."

We reviewed the video ourselves, and Boxer actually hadn't asked Rice any questions prior to her "personal price" comments. Nor did such a question arise at any point in the exchange. In other words, Rice wasn't ignorant of the number of troop casualties; she was never asked.

Boxer did ask Rice about troop deaths after her "personal price" remarks, but the question was about future casualties resulting from the upcoming surge of troops into Iraq:

Boxer: "Do you have an estimate of the number of casualties we expect from this surge?"

Rice: "No Senator, I don't think there's any way to give you such an estimate."

Boxer: "Has the president, because he said, 'Expect more sacrifice.' He must know."

Rice: "Senator, I don't think any of us have a number of expected casualties."

So Boxer asked Rice for a projection on how many American troops might be lost in the surge, and Rice essentially answered that the answer was unknowable.

We find the senator's revisionist account to be far from the truth and disparaging of Rice. Pants on Fire!

Robert Farley, Times staff writer Edited for print. For more, go to

PolitiFact: Sen. Boxer revises history, comments in attack on Condoleezza Rice 09/07/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, September 7, 2010 10:59pm]
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