November 21st, 2012
10:44 PM ET
8 years ago

U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice defends Benghazi remarks

(CNN) – Susan Rice, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, defended her initial comments about the September 11, 2012 attack that resulted in four Americans dead in Benghazi, Libya.

“When discussing the attacks on our facilities in Benghazi, I relied solely and squarely on the information provided to me by the intelligence community. I made clear that the information was preliminary,” Rice, who has come under fire for her early account of the attack, told reporters outside the United Nations on Wednesday.

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While appearing on Sunday talk shows to discuss the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Rice said preliminary information suggested the attack was spawned from protests over an anti-Muslim film. Rice's comments came under harsh scrutiny as further information suggested the attack was a premeditated assault.

Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, spearheaded the criticism, along with Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire and many Republicans who have said they would block Rice’s nomination if chosen to replace Hillary Clinton as secretary of state. Elevating Rice to a Cabinet position within the administration would require a Senate confirmation.

Republicans put pressure on Obama over Rice

Rice called some of McCain’s comments “unfounded,” though she said she has “great respect for Sen. McCain and his service to our country. I always have and I always will. I look forward to having the opportunity at the appropriate time to discuss all of this with him.”

President Barack Obama defended Rice and criticized McCain’s attacks in a news conference last week calling Republican criticism of Rice “outrageous" and the White House has said Rice was using the best information she had at the time.

Rice said, “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 and particularly the protests that were enveloping and threatening many diplomatic facilities, American diplomatic facilities around the world, and Iran’s nuclear program."

Rice also said she knew Ambassador Chris Stevens, who was killed in the attack, and had the privilege of working closely with him.

“He was a valued colleague, and his loss and that of three colleagues is a massive tragedy for all of us who serve in the U.S. government and for all the American people,” she said, adding “none of us will rest, none of us will be satisfied until we have the answers and the terrorists responsible for this are brought to justice.”

CNN’s Gregory Wallace contributed to this report.

Filed under: 2012 • John McCain • Libya • President Obama • Susan Rice
soundoff (50 Responses)
  1. ddtrey

    Funny how all liberals throw Bush under the bus for Iraq, where the intelligence community "provided him with the details" that Iraq had chemical weapons. Now, when it is a democrat who was juked by the intelligence community, they were simply doing the right thing by going to the U.N. and telling the world that it was a silly video that killed 4 Americans. You cannot have it both ways!!! This simply shows the hopelessness of our political system when two identical situations occur but each side sees themselves as just. And spare me that Iraq was worse because thousands of Americans dies versus 4. One life is too many, and at least in Iraq, we killed thousands of extremist who came there to fight us instead of to America to fight us.

    November 22, 2012 04:42 am at 4:42 am |
  2. GEdwards

    "to talk about the full range of national security issues of the day, which at that time were primarily and particularly the protests that were enveloping and threatening many diplomatic facilities, American diplomatic facilities around the world, and Iran’s nuclear program."

    "Which AT THE TIME (the anniversary of 911) were primarily and particularly the protests...."

    She STILL can't bring herself to admit that the protests had NOTHING to do with a youtube film, released months earlier than hardly anyone saw until AFTER the protests began.

    November 22, 2012 04:45 am at 4:45 am |
  3. BD70

    McCain...the one who chose Sarah Palin as his VP critical of Susan Rice?

    November 22, 2012 04:54 am at 4:54 am |
  4. carlsousa

    I've got no problem with Miss Rice getting the wrong information. The problem I have is that President Obama said that Miss Rice had nothing to do with Benghazi, so why was she on national tv defending it? That should have been left to the people that did have something to do with Benghazi, ie; The President, The Secretary of State, the The CIA, etc..

    November 22, 2012 05:18 am at 5:18 am |
  5. snowdogg

    Her explanation sounds plausible to me. So, why can't the "conspiracy" critics let it go. They are undermining the USA's credibility with their dogged pursuit of pinning something bad on the Obama administration.

    November 22, 2012 05:24 am at 5:24 am |
  6. Poleski

    This one is simple. Rice is lying, period. What she did was help advertise a video no one had heard of including the Muslims in Libya until talked about by Obama, Clinton, Carney and Rice. This was a planned 9/11 attack and she knew it. If she didn’t she’s incompetent. I knew it and I’m not Ambassador to the UN.
    “Rice said preliminary information suggested the attack was spawned from protests over an anti-Muslim film.”
    “I relied solely and squarely on the information provided to me by the intelligence community.”
    That’s a lie too. She would have us believe that she spoke to no one at the White House about what to say on those news shows, RIGHT. We are not as stupid as you are lady. Most of us, even the ones supporting her know she is lying.
    Democrats have to lie. If they tell the truth they can’t get elected. Obama, Clinton, Carney and Rice lied.

    November 22, 2012 05:51 am at 5:51 am |
  7. Clarke

    When will they just stop the witch hunt. Let's start making our nation a better place for all the people. I always respected John McCain, but lately I don't understand what he is about. He needs to let the past go and move on.

    November 22, 2012 06:22 am at 6:22 am |
  8. Rick Douglas

    Do we really want a liar as Sec. of State?

    November 22, 2012 06:27 am at 6:27 am |
  9. mcalleyboy

    She made a very large error with the story released and don't forget this attack was on 9/11 anniversary so another huge blunder without thinking before releasing information, she's not the right person for the job, John Kerry is not a good alternative either.

    November 22, 2012 06:33 am at 6:33 am |
  10. MarineWill

    The Republican politization of this is shameful. Once the party of big ideas, they have truly lost their direction. McCain and Graham should be ashamed of themselves...Ayote is simply "following the learder" on this one. She should break off while she still has a chance.

    November 22, 2012 06:36 am at 6:36 am |
  11. elboparsons

    In Libya, the attack on the mission was on 9/11. The attack on the CIA annex was on 9/12. I think that saying they were both on 9/11 is misleading and confusing.

    November 22, 2012 06:51 am at 6:51 am |
  12. Rod Bashir

    Senator McCain: Is Sarah Palin qualified to be President of the United States? If so, you lack judgement. If not, you should not speak of other's qualifications in public.

    November 22, 2012 07:03 am at 7:03 am |
  13. redleg56

    When Colin Powell was used to pump out lies from the WHite House and the CIA it was "the same inteliegence everyone saw". I guess race, gender and party determine when officers like McCain and Graham believe in not lying, stealing or cheating.

    November 22, 2012 07:05 am at 7:05 am |
  14. Yonni

    It is a payback time for McCain for Rice comments during the 2008 presidential campaign, Rice, then serving as Obama's foreign policy advisor, portrayed McCain's policies in Iraq as "reckless" and ridiculed McCain and Graham for "strolling around the market in a flak jacket" during a visit to Iraq to show how Iraq was a peaceful place while he was guarded by military personals to protect him. McCain is a vengeful man who never got over losing for Obama.

    November 22, 2012 07:05 am at 7:05 am |
  15. jnpa

    I used to have respect for McCain, but not anymore. He is using this as a political tool, as are most of the GOP in Congress.

    November 22, 2012 07:09 am at 7:09 am |
  16. seanster77

    SO everyone on the planet except this moron knew that had nothing to do with some stupid YouTube video. That alone should be grounds fro being fired. She should have shut her mouth if she didn't know what was going on. So still at total incompetence or a liar

    November 22, 2012 07:12 am at 7:12 am |
  17. Bill C

    Obama lied. People died. Wake up folks.

    November 22, 2012 07:16 am at 7:16 am |
  18. newsrell

    No more GOP attack ? Hiding in shame or busy eating crow ?

    November 22, 2012 07:26 am at 7:26 am |
  19. GonetopotObama

    More spin coming from the Obama administration. They won't admit anything that goes against their agenda. Our country doesn't need Ms. Rice as Seceraty of State.

    November 22, 2012 07:29 am at 7:29 am |
  20. Dave

    What an embarrassment! Our own Intel doesn't trust the Obama administration.

    November 22, 2012 07:35 am at 7:35 am |
  21. Bubba

    Remember the three monkeys see no evil..speak no evil...hear no evil....If Rice had three hands, the could be all three at once.

    November 22, 2012 07:42 am at 7:42 am |
  22. mer

    bless her heart........she either doesn't know how to do research on a subject she knows nothing about before 5 tv appearances and is incompetent, or she is lying through her teeth. either way, she is unfit for continued public office

    November 22, 2012 07:42 am at 7:42 am |
  23. stephen

    " I relied solely and squarely on the information provided to me by the intelligence community".

    REALLY? But Petraus testified that he stated a strong possibility on the Friday BEFORE Rice appeared on the five news shows that it was terrorist activity. Why did not Rice IMPLY that terrorism was a possibility? Clearly, when watching her shows again that Rice was ATTEMPTING to dissuade any thoughts of a TERRORIST ATTACK hoping that the talking points would prevail....and unfortunately they did.

    November 22, 2012 07:47 am at 7:47 am |
  24. Rick McDaniel

    That is simply indefensible.

    Anyone with any ability to read, knew her comments were entirely a lie, when she made them.

    This person has no business being in the government at all. She is nothing but a puppet.

    November 22, 2012 07:47 am at 7:47 am |
  25. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    The problem is that she could only state what was known and declassified. There might have been more known but was still classified. That couldn't be disclosed to the general public. In most cases, the CIA director doesn't go on national tv to discss things. She was likely the highest ranking member of the cabinet that was willing to do it.

    November 22, 2012 07:54 am at 7:54 am |
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