Returning for the first time since Sept. 16, 2012 on NBC’s “Meet The Press” with David Gregory, 49-year-old former U.N. Amb. Susan Rice defended her past statements on Benghazi when she told a national TVaudience that the attack was due to “spontaneous” rioting. Less than two months from the 2012 presidential election, it’s unclear why President Barack Obama tapped Rice to explain the al-Qaida-linked terrorist attack that claimed the lives of 52-year-old Chris Stevens and three other Americans. “What I said to you that morning, and what I did every day since, was to share the best information that we had at the time,” said Rice, repeating a factually incorrect statement that the Benghazi attack was a due to in inflammatory YouTube video defaming the Prophet Mohammed. Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said they knew Benghazi was a terror attack.
Rice’s statements the Sunday morning after Benghazi infuriated conservatives in Congress, especially Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), declaring Rice’s remarks incredulous. “The information I provided which I explained to you, was what we had at the moment. It could change. I commented that this was based on what we know on that morning, was provided to me and my colleagues and indeed to Congress by the intelligence community, and that been well validated in many different ways since,” said Rice, failing to acknowledge that five days after the Sept. 11, 2012 Benghazi attack, the White House knew its was a carefully planned terrorist plot. Rice’s public comments were so off-the-wall that it prevented her from succeeding Hillary as Secretary of State. Her continued denials show a stubborn streak and make matters worse for Democrats.
Rice can’t admit she blew smoke to the media on national TV talk shows to protect Obama’s reelection bid. Despite getting Osama bin Laden May 1, 2011, there would have been hell to pay in the polls had the public blamed Obama for the Benghazi terror attack. Rice insists that no one knew any more than she reported Sunday, Sept. 16, yet Obama and Hillary have openly admitted the administration knew from Day 1 that Benghazi was carefully planned terror attack. “That information turned out in some respects no to be 100 percent correct,” Rice told Gregory, not admitting that she was used the White House to protect Obama. What she hasn’t acknowledged is the way the White House threw her under the bus. Rice didn’t become Secretary of State because key member on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee would not have voted to approve her nomination.
Rice insists that the “intelligence community” prepared her briefing or talking points on Benghazi. That’s not the way it works. White House officials digest intelligence then write the talking points, whether or not they make any sense. In the case of Benghazi, Rice’s talking points made no sense, certainly not to anyone with any knowledge of Benghazi. “But the notion that somehow I or anybody else in the administration is patently false, and that’s been amply demonstrated,” said Rice in a classic Orwellian reversal. Withdrawing her name for Secretary of State, Rice admitted that she misled the public about the events in Benghazi. If she did nothing wrong, why would she withdraw her name? Handing Secretary of State to former Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass), wasn’t easy for the ambitious Stanford and Oxford graduate, tragic career mistake at the hands of the White House.
Rice’s excuse that she simply read the intelligence community’s talking points about Benghazi doesn’t pass the smell test. As U.N. ambassador, Rice was required to apply her own common sense to public statements. When she blamed the Benghazi debacle on “spontaneous rioting,” she knew it didn’t match with the facts a good five days after the incident. McCain and Graham scoffed at Rice’s denials of what prompted her to deceive on Sunday morning talk shows. While Obama wasn’t really challenged in the waning days of the 2012 campaign, his handlers didn’t want to get upended by Benghazi. Should Hillary decide to run in 2016, Rice’s public testimony will come back to bite her. While she can’t denounce Rice without backfiring, Hillary walks a tightrope on Benghazi. Her best defense is that it’s impossible to stop all terrorist attacks, especially in lawless regions like Libya.
Rice’s continued denials about her remarks on Sunday morning talk pose problems for Democrats down the road, especially Hillary. Instead of blaming the matter on the CIA or FBI, Rice should have accepted responsibility for misstatements that she knew were false within hours after Benghazi. Insisting she didn’t know the facts makes her look naïve and inexperienced, all the more reason to withdraw her name from consideration for secretary of state. McCain and Graham have hammered the White House on Benghazi because Rice’s so-called talking points did more to protect the Obama campaign than get the real word out about Benghazi. While there’s plenty of criticism for Rice, Hillary can’t be held accountable for lax Benghazi security. Ultimately that lies with former Defense Secretary Bob Gates who should have ordered better military security.
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