November 14th, 2012
07:22 PM ET
10 years 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.

- Follow the Ticker on Twitter: @PoliticalTicker

"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. Common sense grandma

    McCain says Susan Rice is not qualified and used the term "not too bright." This from the man that foisted Sarah Palin on us????

    November 14, 2012 09:40 pm at 9:40 pm |
  2. Rita

    The repubicans are still sore losers, so this will be a continuation of digging up loads of mud to sling....I'd rather have Rice represent the US than Rand Paul (or Ron Paul) as they are so anti-government that one wonders why they chose this career path? Ron Paul has been the government for over fifty years, and have their combined pension, health care and benefits been sacrifiiced? You betcha NO....please no more hypocritical talk from anymore republican legislatures.

    November 14, 2012 09:42 pm at 9:42 pm |
  3. Woman In California

    Guess what Rand–it's not up to you and the president doesn't need your consent or approval. Neither you or your old man will ever get the honor to serve this country as POTUS and the world is better for it. Although we know you're trying real hard, to gain independents and democrats, you can forget about it PERMANENTLY. Should you run in 2016, Rachel Maddow would be right there to greet you. Remember she has that interview you had with her on civil rights and would play it over and over again, and just like your old man, you'll gain lots of supporters, suck them for millions of dollars, convince them they'll have less government and then LOSE.

    November 14, 2012 09:49 pm at 9:49 pm |
  4. MarieMD

    These people are like roaches. Does he think he is going to go further than he has? His goons beating up on women? His beliefs that the civil rights bill was a mistake and that if you have a business you have the right not to serve those "not like you/me"?
    Where were you clowns when Americans were dying in Iraq. A war that is/was and will forever be a lie?
    Even the vctims families are telling that pow fool to stop using their family members as bait for this insulting witch hunting!

    November 14, 2012 09:59 pm at 9:59 pm |
  5. Anthony

    Heads should roll among the Republican leadership for losing the 2012 election. As for Benghazi, Obama called it an act of terror the next day. Rice was reading talking points prepared by the CIA. If heads should roll, what about the people who cut funding for embassy security (Hint: who writes the actual budget)?

    November 14, 2012 10:12 pm at 10:12 pm |
  6. Iowa Mary

    This from someone who doesnt want to spend ANYmoney on our embasissers and prior to 9/11/12 probably couldnt have picked either Lybia or Benghazi out of a map. Someday the suth will rise but now with these nut cases.

    November 14, 2012 10:13 pm at 10:13 pm |
  7. Donkey Party

    And Bush, Cheney, Rice and Rumsfeld's heads should roll for 911, but the GOP won't take any responsibility for that. What a hypocritical, horrible bunch of sub-humans that inhabit the GOP.

    November 14, 2012 10:22 pm at 10:22 pm |
  8. Squigman

    Someone needs to muzzle this mutt. Getting tired of hearing him bark too. The idiots that elected him should be real proud,

    November 14, 2012 10:45 pm at 10:45 pm |
  9. GlueckAuf

    It's a sad, sad statement on this administration when the only one likely to shed some credible light on this colossal mess is a resigned-in-disgrace adulterer.

    November 14, 2012 10:51 pm at 10:51 pm |
  10. BT

    You gotta love all of the Republican hyperventilating about lower embassy security as they slashed the budget for - embassy security. Unbelievable hypocricy. And the irony is that Republicans are drawing another line in the sand about no new taxes for millionaires to pay for any of it. Stunning.

    November 14, 2012 11:02 pm at 11:02 pm |
  11. Get over it

    When you take a step back and look at it. This is pretty much what happened. Obama gave most people what they wanted and the Republicans failed again. We'll see how that worked out for everyone in years to come. A lot of people in America feel entitled and thus, he won the election. If there was ever an election that could have been knocked out of the park by the GOP, this was it. The 'rich' people had better watch out. 'Rich' is considered ANYONE that is ahead. Even anyone like me who has very modestly done the right thing, consistently saved for 30 years, chosen to go without and not go into debt . That is not fair and Obama has me in his sights to redistribute my 'wealth'. With this mentality, there is very little incentive to try to get ahead. Big brother will take their cut and make us all equal.

    November 14, 2012 11:02 pm at 11:02 pm |
  12. me

    Several people should be fired for that farce, starting with obama

    November 14, 2012 11:14 pm at 11:14 pm |
  13. Anon2012

    Never thought I'd agree with Rand Paul but he has it right. There should an investigation to determine what happened but stop scapegoating Susan Rice.

    November 14, 2012 11:36 pm at 11:36 pm |
  14. kac

    Thousands of Americans perished in the Iraq war after Condy, Powell, Rumsfeld etc went infront of the Americans, UN and rest of the world falsely testifying that Iraq had WMDs, bu these repubs didnt raise any issues with that. Infact McCain came out stronlgy defending condy and supporting her confirmation for secretary of state. Now he has issues with susan. Not to undermine the lives of the 4 brave men who died, but there is double standard here.

    November 14, 2012 11:43 pm at 11:43 pm |
  15. 1nsite

    While this should be investigated, I am truly appalled at the political play of some Republicans. Remember 9/11/01 that was related to this attack? Yeah lots more Americans died then with warnings about Bin Laden possibly using planes. Over a decade later and no heads rolled from anyone with that administration.

    November 15, 2012 12:08 am at 12:08 am |
  16. nigel6

    Rand should know full well that Marines don't guard consulates.

    The very existence of diplomatic relationships depends on trust of the host country. The host country provides security. What part of that does Paul not get? The host country provides security. Do I need to repeat that again? The host country provides security.

    Obviously security by the host country failed in this instance. But the ambassador died of smoke inhalation. Marines are not very good at preventing smoke inhalation. Maybe I need to repeat that again, for Paul's benefit. Marines are not very good at preventing smoke inhalation.

    Please, please, please stop trying to make this a political issue. Libya was liberated with minimal loss of US lives. We are not still trying to extract troops. End of story.

    November 15, 2012 02:00 am at 2:00 am |
  17. Synthetically Thought...

    Why were Rand and other GOP heretics not calling for Bush to resign after his tragic failure to prevent 9/11?

    November 15, 2012 02:07 am at 2:07 am |
  18. Matt Blatter

    Chris Stevens, Sean Smith, Tyrone S. Woods, and Glen A. Doherty
    Their blood cries from the dust for justice and peace for their families.
    These men are modern patriots who should be honored by telling their story to our children that they may know patriotism lives today as it did when our nations founders wrote the Constitution and spilled the British tea. When Francis Scott Key wrote the National Anthem on a napkin aboard a British ship where he was made to watch war waged on Baltimore.

    Please do not let men die unknown and uncelebrated. We should be proud of our brothers who fought and died in Benghazi so others could live. And what of those Hurt? All a unplanned riot?

    November 15, 2012 02:49 am at 2:49 am |
  19. rosalinda

    what exactly is the role of military presence at embassies, and whose responsibility is it to protect a particular embassy-the host country, or the visiting country? do most countries have small armies in foreign countries protecting their embassy personnel? i don't recall seeing large military presence surrounding embassies i've seen.

    November 15, 2012 03:04 am at 3:04 am |
  20. Errol Ba Zan

    John McCain Sounds like a Bad Loser going after Ambassador Rice

    November 15, 2012 04:05 am at 4:05 am |
  21. Marry

    "...performed eye surgery for 17 years."
    Sen. Paul is so blind...! No help for him in sight!

    November 15, 2012 05:35 am at 5:35 am |
  22. Name

    Blaming Ambassador Rice for quoting CIA briefing is like attacking the messanger; why didn't MacCain and Graham impeach Bush for ignoring same CIA's brief of pending 9/11 terrorist attack in New York??

    November 15, 2012 05:42 am at 5:42 am |
  23. Don

    Has anyone officially started the impeachment talk clock yet? It's only a matter of time till these sore losers begin it.

    November 15, 2012 06:11 am at 6:11 am |

    That would be the tea potty House of Representatives who cut the money who need to be fired. Small government means no protection for Libya.

    November 15, 2012 06:37 am at 6:37 am |
1 2