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Rice speaks on eve of commencement

On the eve of her controversial speaking engagement at Boston College's commencement, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice celebrated her critics' right to object to her presence.

But she defended the Bush administration's actions in Iraq and challenged her critics' assertions that the Iraq war clashes with Catholic morals.

"Christians are of course on both sides of the argument about the use of force -- when it is indeed just to use force and when it is not," she said at a news conference today. "We have overthrown a dictator who brutalized his population….Sometimes you have to get rid of really, really bad regimes"

Boston College's announcement that Rice would speak and receive an honorary law degree has divided the Jesuit colleges. Two leading theologians penned a letter, which more than 200 members of the roughly 1,000-person faculty signed, objecting to the college's invitation.

"On the level of both moral principle and practical moral judgment, Secretary Rice's approach to international affairs is in fundamental conflict with Boston College’s commitment to the Catholic and Jesuit traditions," the letter said.

Some students and faculty are planning silent actions of protest for tomorrow’s ceremony, while Boston peace activists are planning to rally outside the event.

"People have the right to say whatever they wish," Rice said.

"That's the great blessing of living in a free country," she said, adding that she is glad that "the people of Baghdad and people of Kabul are going to enjoy, finally, the same liberty to say what they think that the people of Boston do."

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