Nov 27, 2012 No Comments ›› Infidel
Excerpted from The Ticket: The White House sharply escalated its attacks on Tuesday on Republicans opposed to U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice becoming the next secretary of state, describing them as in the grips of a politically fueled “obsession” with incorrect “talking points” she used regarding the deadly Sept. 11 attack in Benghazi, Libya. Press secretary Jay Carney also said the United States still does not know who carried out the assault, which claimed the lives of Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans.
“There are no unanswered questions about Ambassador Rice’s appearance on Sunday shows” of Sept. 16, when she linked the strike to demonstrations fueled by Muslim anger at an Internet video ridiculing Islam, Carney told reporters.
“The questions that remain to be answered—and that the president insists be answered—have to do with what happened in Benghazi, who was responsible for the deaths of four Americans, including our ambassador, and what steps we need to take to ensure that something like that doesn’t happen again,” Carney said at his daily briefing.
His remarks came shortly after Rice acknowledged for the first time, in a written statement issued by her office, that her public comments that day were wrong because there was no protest outside the compound in Benghazi. In appearance after appearance, Rice had said that American intelligence had pinned the blame on the assault on extremists who took advantage of a demonstration outside the facility.
“Neither I nor anyone else in the administration intended to mislead the American people at any stage in this process, and the administration updated Congress and the American people as our assessments evolved,” Rice said. Her comments came after she met on Capitol Hill with Republican Senators fiercely opposed to seeing her become secretary of state, perhaps the clearest sign yet that President Barack Obama wants her to succeed Hillary Clinton as America’s top diplomat.
The ambassador, accompanied by Acting CIA Director Michael Morell, met with Republican Sens. John McCain, Lindsey Graham and Kelly Ayotte, who have accused Rice (and the Obama administration in general) of misleading the public by tying the assault to the video. Republicans have suggested that the administration hoped to blunt the potential political impact of the attack—the first to claim the life of an American ambassador in 30 years—shortly before the election.
“Bottom line: I’m more disturbed now than I was before,” Graham told reporters after the meeting. “We are significantly troubled by many of the answers that we got and some that we didn’t get,” McCain said.
“The focus on—some might say obsession on—comments made on Sunday shows seems to me and to many to be misplaced,” Carney shot back. “I know that Sunday shows have vaunted status in Washington, but they have almost nothing to do—in fact zero to do—with what happened in Benghazi,” he added.
And neither, to hear Carney tell it, did Rice.
“Ambassador Rice has no responsibility for collecting, analyzing and providing intelligence, nor does she have responsibility as the United States ambassador to the United Nations for diplomatic security around the globe,” he said.
So why, then, did the White House anoint Rice the administration point person to answer questions about a possible intelligence failure and consular security? Why not Secretary of State Hillary Clinton? Director of National Intelligence James Clapper? Defense Secretary Leon Panetta? National Security Adviser Tom Donilon?
“She is a principal on the president’s foreign policy team,” Carney said. “It was entirely appropriate for Ambassador Rice to appear on the air to take questions about the president’s approach to, and policy toward, the unrest that was occurring largely as a result of the video.