By Jim Kouri
The United States ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice, on Friday aggressively defended herself and denounced criticism of her role in explaining what caused the Sept. 11, 2012, attack on the U.S. consulate in Libya, when she appeared the following Sunday on five morning news shows representing the Obama administration. Amb. Rice continues to claim she had relied on talking points given to her by the intelligence community.
In her defense against criticism from U.S. Senator John McCain and other Republican lawmakers, as well as counterterrorism experts, over the issue, Rice claimed that she relied on intelligence reports when she appeared on the Sunday news programs on Sept. 16, 2012, to discuss the death of the U.S. ambassador to Libya, Chris Stevens, and three other Americans.
“When discussing the attacks against our facilities in Benghazi, I relied solely and squarely on the information provided to me by the intelligence community,” she informed reporters outside of the U.N. Security Council chamber.
“As a senior U.S. diplomat, I agreed to a White House request to appear on the Sunday shows to talk about the full range of national security issues of the day which at that time were primarily, particularly, the protests that were threatening many American diplomatic facilities,” Rice stated.
Rice had said on the shows that the attack, which occurred on the anniversary of 9/11 terror attacks, was a result of an anti-U.S. protest in Benghazi, Libya, over a movie trailer posted on the Internet that was anti-Muslim. On that same day there was a violent protest in Cairo, Egypt, outside of the U.S. embassy there, but there were no casualties among the American diplomatic staff.
However, more and more information was leaked that suggested the Libyan attack had nothing to do with a YouTube.com video and eventually the Obama administration changed their “line” and said it was a terrorist attack, according to political strategist Michael Baker.
Rice’s emphatic statements on the TV news shows stirred up an uproar among Republicans and some Democrats who said the administration was misleading the Americans over the issue and blamed Rice, who is a leading candidate to succeed Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. McCain and other Republic senators went as far as threatening that they would block her nomination as Secretary of State.
“Everyone, particularly the intelligence community, has worked in good faith to provide the best assessment based on the information available,” Rice claimed.
“You know the FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation) and the State Department’s accountability review board are conducting investigations as we speak and they will look into all aspects of this heinous terrorist attack to provide what will become the definitive accounting of what occurred,” said Amb. Rice.
Last week during a rare press conference, President Obama defended Rice saying that if McCain and others “want to go after someone they should go after me.”
Obama added, “When they go after the U.N. Ambassador apparently because they think she’s an easy target then they’ve got a problem with me.”
Obama went on to say that Amb. Rice knew nothing about the Benghazi attack and was not involved in the gathering and analysis of intelligence regarding the attack, the killings of Americans and the terrorist group that perpetrated the shocking incident.
“If Susan Rice didn’t know anything about Benghazi, why the heck was she touring the news shows as if she was apprised of all the facts as they were known five days after the U.S. consulate attack? Why didn’t Obama send out his usual mouthpieces from both the White House and his reelection campaign?” asked former intelligence officer and police detective Thomas McAlary.
Just before the Thanksgiving holiday, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper claimed it was his office that provided Amb. Rice with the talking points and she was simply repeating what she was told. However, during his testimony before a congressional panel, Clapper acknowledged that within 24-hours he was aware that there was no protest gone violent, but that the attack on the U.S. consulate was pre-planned by a group of Islamic terrorists.