Karl Rove, former senior advisor and deputy chief of staff to President George W. Bush, is scheduled to give a guest lecture in Campbell Hall at UCSB, at 8 p.m. on Thursday, February 25. The student governing body regards Rove as an educational asset because of his extensive knowledge of the inner workings of the Bush administration, and because of his opinions, which break from the UCSB student body’s traditionally liberal views. Some students and groups strongly disagree, including UCSB Anti-War.
I had the opportunity to interview some of the members of UCSB Anti-War — who wished to remain individually anonymous — regarding the controversial speaker and why they are staging a protest on campus when Rove is scheduled to speak. The protest is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. on the day of Rove’s arrival, and is expected to exceed more than a hundred activists against the UCSB sanctioned speaker.
What does your group expect to accomplish by protesting Rove’s appearance?
Karl Rove was one of the chief war criminals in the Bush administration. As Bush’s top advisor who helped Bush rise to power, he has been called “Bush’s Brain.” He should be prosecuted for crimes against humanity. Mass public repudiation of former Bush officials wherever they speak is an essential strategy for holding them accountable politically for the grievous damage they have done to this country and to people around the globe. It is also a key way to shine the light on many of the same policies that the Obama administration has been continuing for over a year now.
In addition, we want to send a message to our student government that war criminals belong behind bars, not behind podiums. We speak for a large plurality of students who are angry that Rove is being paid a sizeable amount of student money. We are pursuing political action to redirect, toward Haiti relief, the funds allocated to Rove.
Have you ever planned a similar presentation in the past?
The current members of our group are newer than those who were around about two years ago. That former group of students did great work, like a student strike against the Iraq War that ended up taking over the 217 freeway, and a successful disruption of CIA recruiters and a military technology conference.
This year, we’ve established a new presence by organizing two protests against Obama’s “surge” of the war in Afghanistan, but Rove’s appearance hands us an opportunity to do some much higher-profile resistance, and we’re excited about that.
What, specifically, has Karl Rove done that has had a negative effect on Americans?
Karl Rove has a long history using dirty politics to subvert popular will, and using state power to protect corrupt corporations. For example, [during the buildup to the invasion of Iraq] when former U.S. ambassador Joseph Wilson admitted that Iraq didn’t pose a significant threat to the U.S., Rove waged a well-orchestrated smear campaign to conceal the truth and discredit Wilson.
Rove worked with the tobacco giant Philip Morris in the ‘90s to pressure certain politicians against suing the company.
But today Rove is most notable for his role, with other neo-conservatives, in deliberately exaggerating the threat of WMDs in Iraq. This royal fabrication, with the help of the corporate media, was meant to dupe the American people into supporting an unjust and immoral invasion of Iraq in 2003. The Lancet, one of the oldest scientific medical journals in the world, estimates that over one million Iraqis have died violent deaths as a result of the American invasion.
Rove has dodged nearly a dozen Congressional subpoenas and escaped several [citizens’] arrest attempts, and continues to travel the country and get paid to spread political propaganda on college campuses. He lies that the U.S. government never relied on torture, even though it has been admitted through government memos and official testimony that the CIA relied on techniques such as raping people with broken bottles, boiling people alive, and even torturing children with insects, as exposed by former British ambassador Craig Murray. (This is aside from well-known torture techniques such as waterboarding and sleep deprivation.)
How much money is he being paid for his appearance?
As far as we know, Karl Rove’s standard speaking fee is $25,000. The majority of this has been fundraised by the College Republicans from local conservative sympathizers, amounting to $17,567 in donations. The additional $7,433 is provided by a mix of student funds allocated by UCSB Associated Students Finance Board and Legislative Council. These are funds appropriated from the collective student body through registration and program fees, intended specifically for allocation to campus events and activities that incorporate and are to the benefit of the entire UCSB student body. An additional $5,500 has been allocated by the Associated Students to help the College Republicans pay for venue and security fees.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
People who see the need for serious anti-war action and discussion are welcome at our meetings, every Friday at 5 p.m. at the Biko House on Sueno Road. You can find SB Anti-War on Facebook, and on our blog. The future is unwritten—what we get is up to us. Get to know us, contribute to the Karl Rove protest any way you can, and dare to struggle for a better world.