November 14th, 2012
07:22 PM ET
1 year ago

Sen. Rand Paul: Heads should roll over Benghazi, but Rice is not the issue

(CNN) – Someone should lose their job in the wake of the September attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Libya, Sen. Rand Paul said Wednesday on CNN's "Erin Burnett OutFront."

But that someone isn't Ambassador Susan Rice, the U.S. delegate to the United Nations who two top Republicans said Wednesday should be denied a promotion, if offered, as much of the GOP furor about the U.S. government’s response focuses on her.

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"The person who decided to have no Marines guarding the ambassador should be fired, just plain and simple," he said, referring to Ambassador Chris Stevens, the U.S. delegate to Libya who died in the September 11 attack. "I don't think that's Susan Rice. I think we get involved with Ambassador Rice and we're getting off subject."

Sens. Lindsey Graham and John McCain said earlier in the day
they would use parliamentary means to hold up her nomination for the top State Department post, should President Barack Obama nominate her. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has said she does not want to serve through Obama's second term but would stay in office until a replacement is confirmed.

Rice is at the center of the storm because she appeared on television shows several days after Benghazi attack and said it involved a "spontaneous" demonstration related to an anti-Muslim video.

Senior administration officials later said Rice was speaking from talking points prepared for official use and the word "spontaneous" was a poor choice to describe what is now understood to have been a terrorist attack.

But Republicans contend the administration was slow to acknowledge the attack was terrorism.

"The reason I don't trust her is that I think she knew better, and if she didn't' know better, she shouldn't be the voice of America," said Graham.

Obama stood by his ambassador at a White House news conference a few hours later.

"If Senator McCain and Senator Graham and others want to go after someone they should go after me," Obama said. "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."

On CNN, Paul said fault lies at the hands of someone who made a decision likely long before the attack took place on the 11th anniversary of 9/11.

"I think really the more important question isn't really about whether it was caused by terrorism or whether it was caused by a movie," he said. "Obviously it was terrorism, but I think the more important question is why were there no Marines guarding our ambassador. Who made the decision - not an immediate... decision, but a month-long desk decision to send an ambassador into a war-torn country without any uniformed Marines."

Had a different decision been made, Stevens and the three others who died - including two Marines working as contractors for the CIA - may have survived had more robust security been in place.

"If there had been two Marines with automatic weapons the ambassador might have gotten out alive," he said. "If there had been ten Marines, I'd say they'd have had a really fighting chance to get out alive and I think someone made a bad decision. It doesn't make them a bad person, it just makes them someone who shouldn't be in charge of making that decision for any other ambassador."

Paul said he does not want to "pre-judge" any nomination for the secretary of state post Obama might make, because "President Obama does get to choose who he'd wish" for the job.

"I have supported a lot of President Obama's nominees, but I am concerned about the movie with Senator Graham," he said, "so I think there have to be some questions answered before any of us make decision on this."

Sen. Kelly Ayotte, a New Hampshire Republican who with Graham and Lindsey has argued a special congressional committee is necessary to investigate Libya, appeared to side closer with Paul on the matter of Rice and a potential Senate confirmation.

"I have serious concerns about where we are right now and trusting what she has to say, but I'm willing to listen to what she has to say," Ayotte said.

– CNN's Dana Davidsen contributed to this report


Filed under: Libya • Rand Paul • Susan Rice
soundoff (49 Responses)
  1. rs

    Mr. Paul- please come back to talk to us after heads roll over the Iraq war.

    November 14, 2012 07:36 pm at 7:36 pm |
  2. Randpaulclown

    Marines don't guard ambassadors. They guard embassies. The attack did not take place at an embassy. Again, to repeat- Marines are not some sort of mini secret service for ambassadors. Rep. Paul clearly needs to read up on who does what overseas.

    November 14, 2012 07:43 pm at 7:43 pm |
  3. plain&simple

    For the first time ever ,I agree with what Rand Paul has said!!! Wow there is hope.

    November 14, 2012 07:48 pm at 7:48 pm |
  4. California Gary

    Excuse me Rand.......but your ignorance is showing. Marines guard the embassy, not the embassador. They are not trained as body guards........and they don't accompany the ambassador outside of the embassy. And there is no embassy in Benghazi. You should learn a little more about it before spouting off.

    November 14, 2012 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  5. Marie

    You mean like heads should role for the wars Bush, Rove and Cheney engineered and profiteered from but skipped off into the sunset without a scratch? You mean that intelligence faux pas that might have averted 9/11 or the other embassy attacks prior to that? Just making sure the head rolling analogy is used in a fair and balanced manner since that is what being a GOP member is all about...fair and balanced upstanding principles.

    November 14, 2012 07:53 pm at 7:53 pm |
  6. Thomas

    I can't stand the Aqua Buddha .

    Where were these morons after 911 and Bush was in office , who was fired , who was national security adviser ?

    Conolisa Rice !

    November 14, 2012 07:56 pm at 7:56 pm |
  7. Russ

    Where are the heads rolling over the 4000 americans killed in Iraq from Bushes lies to go to war? Hell of a lot worse case than Benghazi you morons. Once again your loving God that you all lean on gave Obama another term as President now get the hell out of the way and let him get things done. Next time I guess you GOPers need to pray harder.

    November 14, 2012 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  8. David Chupinsky

    Maybe someone needs to look at congress for cutting funding for security to embassies. Nobody fired Colin Powell when he took false information to the UN about WMDs in Iraq that cost thousands of American and Iraqi lives. Maybe someone should arrest and charge Dick Cheney for starting all of this in the first place!!

    November 14, 2012 08:03 pm at 8:03 pm |
  9. JG-Texas

    Benghazi I've heard enough already can we please move on to something now folks???

    November 14, 2012 08:14 pm at 8:14 pm |
  10. Anthony76

    Still waiting for all the heads to roll from the Bush administration....

    November 14, 2012 08:15 pm at 8:15 pm |
  11. nick

    Where were these people (McCain,Graham) during 911.Did'nt hear a peep from them when 3000 died. Now these losers trying to make a case on Benghazzi and 4 dead.
    Keep making noise about nothng and I hope S.Carlina and Arizona remember you next go around.

    November 14, 2012 08:20 pm at 8:20 pm |
  12. marty

    It's only a matter of time before Rand Paul puts his foot in his mouth. As for Senators McCain and Lindsay, they're showing their true colors with their attacks on Susan Rice. For heaven's sake, they should know better unless beatin' up on a young woman puffs up what's left of their masculinity.

    c

    November 14, 2012 08:26 pm at 8:26 pm |
  13. ApostasyUSA

    Really Republicans? This is all you can come up with? The exploitation of the deaths of honorable men; men of country? Are you people plain evil? Have you no shame?

    This was a terrible violent act by terrorist. They are to blame.

    What are you saying Republicans? That we should invade Iraq? 4000 dead American soldiers among countless others!!?? Oppps! Wrong enemy!!

    Are you saying that Republicans and GW Bush are responsible for letting 9/11 happen? What about the 12 attacks on US embassies that happened under GW? Opps!

    Republicans of today are just hacks with no hearts and puny minds.

    I’m afraid this is just another example of the fossilized right-wing status quo: Create a grotesquely distorted caricature, broadcast the delusion at the top of your lungs, and hope that you manage to reinforce just enough cynicism and hopelessness to ensure the election of someone who truly cares only for funneling all of the country's wealth and power into the hands of a tiny, corrupt elite.

    Republicans are garbage leaders.

    November 14, 2012 08:33 pm at 8:33 pm |
  14. joe

    graham and mc caine are two real jerks trying to stay relevent. Rand Paul makes sense and has resonable requests. The other two old farts are more interested in making political points than finding out what happened. Going after Rice is just an excuse to hold up a nomination. One that has not been decided yet. Forward

    November 14, 2012 08:38 pm at 8:38 pm |
  15. jinx88

    Are heads gonna roll for the WMD false claims? Or how about when Pat Tillman was killed by friendly fire? Reougs love to forget their screw ups that killed several thousand military men and women. Repugs are pathetic!! I cant wait till 2014 when more of these sorry excuse for representatives are voted out.

    November 14, 2012 08:39 pm at 8:39 pm |
  16. 82ndairborne1968

    "IF there had been two marines..."; "IF there had been ten marines...". IF there had been a full infantry division there, Stevens would still be alive. But it wasn't, he isn't, and Republican armchair commandos keep rollin' along...

    November 14, 2012 08:41 pm at 8:41 pm |
  17. D.Tree

    So let me get this straight: Rand Paul complains that if only Ambassador Stevens had two marines guarding him, all this would never have happened. Yet, two marines (working secretly for the CIA) were THERE, and also died during the attack.

    Rand Paul, and every Republican talking in circles around this issue... just looks like they're trying to amplify this tragedy into a personal political vendetta.

    The election is over, guys! Let the investigation proceed, before you open your mouths and muddy the waters even more.

    November 14, 2012 08:44 pm at 8:44 pm |
  18. john oh

    Who let the chickenhawks in the henhouse again?

    November 14, 2012 08:46 pm at 8:46 pm |
  19. J'Cincinnati'Redd

    Right now my fellow GOP party wants blood,and so do I. 4americans died with no help from our great nation. But we need to our time and keep digging the truth is going to come out.and i have a feeling that the guilty ranks above Rice.

    November 14, 2012 08:53 pm at 8:53 pm |
  20. Larry L

    Republicans need to stop working towards a scandal designed to help win the election. That boat has sailed. They now need to start actually solving America's problems.

    November 14, 2012 09:02 pm at 9:02 pm |
  21. nothing new here

    Senator Paul is right on this one.
    Heads should roll on this matter....
    But our government leaders are too busy sticking their noses into everyone's bedrooms and e-mails, than to worry about such trivial matters as national security.

    November 14, 2012 09:05 pm at 9:05 pm |
  22. Romney Hood's a FRAUD

    Will someone in the GOP tell that mental giant that a consulate is not protected the same way as an embassy ANYWHERE in the world and that if the Ambassador chose to leave his security detachment at the embassy, it was probably because he thought about it and made the decision himself. Also, inform the mental giant that his GOP colleagues are the ones who voted to reduce spending on embassy security. And, finally, please inform the mental giant that the guy who should probably lose his job over this just resigned as a result of marital infidelity. In other words, tell him to shut up and sit down!

    November 14, 2012 09:08 pm at 9:08 pm |
  23. Bigereads

    Coming from a privileged twit who has never lifted a finger in defense of this country, or knows what the heck he is talking about, he ought to just shut up and wait for the Pentagon and State to sort it out. Rand has never an uncomfortable moment in his life and has no business going after people who have made his cushy life possible. If he had been in Washington when President Reagan oversaw the slaughter of hundreds of sleeping Marines in Lebanon, I wonder what his preppy outrage would be saying about that. These self-serving Republicans truly don't give a dang about the four people who were killed, this is just red meat for them to exploit since they have nothing else to do. What have they done for four years except disgrace themselves and their positions, make our nation a laughing stock with thir racist attitudes toward our President and spend most of their time campaigning for money on our dollar. Aun Rand is what is wrong with the Republican party and the reason it is dying and will continue top die. Derservedly so.

    November 14, 2012 09:27 pm at 9:27 pm |
  24. Ancient Texan

    Rice is a loyal Obama worshiper, but isn't qualified to be the UN ambassador, forget about Secretary of State.

    November 14, 2012 09:32 pm at 9:32 pm |
  25. mark

    How about him he looks like a likely one

    November 14, 2012 09:39 pm at 9:39 pm |
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