State Department resisted bill lifting Mandela’s travel restrictions.

Last week, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice made headlines when she condemned the “embarrassing” U.S. travel restrictions on former South African President Nelson Mandela. “I really do hope we can remove these restrictions” on the African National Congress, said Rice. But as Vanity Fair reports, the State Department has repeatedly fought a bill that would remove the restrictions on Mandela:

condoleezza-rice.jpg To redress this injustice, Rep. Howard L. Berman (D—CA) introduced a bill last week that would lift all such travel restrictions on A.N.C. officials. […]

But a conversation VF Daily had with a Capitol Hill staffer familiar with the subject makes Rice’s statement seem either disingenuous or out of step with recent State Department policy. According to this source, the bill was drafted more than five years ago but was adamantly opposed by State and the Republican-controlled Congress. Lawyers at the State Department “fought it tooth and nail,” arguing that if the A.N.C. was removed from the list then other groups would want to be removed, too, the staffer said.

A State Department spokesman “said she was not aware of any past resistance to the bill and reinforced Rice’s recent statement.”