Rice: Verdict on Iraq war will come with history

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, twice shouted down by anti-war protesters who called her a killer, told critics Thursday the verdict on the U.S.-led war in Iraq should be left to history.

"I'm quite aware that there are those who disagree about the decision that we would overthrow Saddam Hussein," Rice said in response to a university student who cited opinion polls showing more than 60 percent of Australians have a negative view of the U.S. and its foreign policy.

"I'm quite aware that there are those who believe that he should have been given more time, who believe that we could have contained him," Rice said.

U.S. President George W. Bush and his advisers thought that because of Saddam's behavior and failure of international sanctions to thwart him, "it was time to deal with that situation," she said.

She counted herself among those who made the decision. During Bush's first term, Rice was White House national security adviser and an architect of the 2003 invasion that toppled Saddam.

Rice was twice shouted down by protesters as she spoke to students from several Australian universities gathered at Sydney University's music school.

"Condoleezza Rice, you're a war criminal," a young man shouted minutes after she began her address. "Iraqi blood is on your hands and you can't wash that blood away," he repeated until guards led him away.

Rice drew applause with her response: "I'm glad to see that democracy is well and alive at the university," she said, adding that democracy is now also alive at universities in Kabul, Afghanistan and Baghdad, Iraq.

A second protester stood later and yelled that Rice is a murderer.

She said the administration could have confined its response to the Sept. 11 terror attacks to an assault on the al-Qaida terror network, but she suggested history shows that would have been shortsighted.

"I think the outcome, the judgment, of all of this needs to await history," Rice said, reports AP.

O.Ch.

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