November 21st, 2012
10:44 PM ET
9 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. Darrelll

    We got your back, Mrs. Rice. We are ready to fight for your nomination.

    November 21, 2012 10:50 pm at 10:50 pm |
  2. Jon

    Then I think she needs to tell everyone who told her to tell those lies.

    November 21, 2012 10:55 pm at 10:55 pm |
  3. Name. Leo Antony

    The senile old McCain doesnt require respect of a war veteran if he is so foolish as to politice and impute motives for blocking Rice as Sec of State. This old make makes no spence at all

    November 21, 2012 11:05 pm at 11:05 pm |
  4. Darla (Edmonton, Canada)

    Frankly, I think she needs to walk up to John McCain (while he's postulating for the cameras) and say, "I understand you have something you want to say to me" and then just wait .... I suspect McCain would "hem and haw" and stumble over his own two feet to get away from Ambassador Rice if she confronted him face to face.

    November 21, 2012 11:12 pm at 11:12 pm |
  5. Bran

    Rice is a lier, period

    November 21, 2012 11:29 pm at 11:29 pm |
  6. john

    Dr. Rice deserves to be the next US secretary of states first because she is very well qualified and second she has done a very good job at the UN the last 4 years promoting democracy around the world (Lybia,Egypt,Tunisia, Ivory Coast,...), helping the US blocked the palestininan bid for statehood at the UN and also bringing China and Russia to vote for tough sanctions against Iran and so on. The republicans contempt for her is not because she is not qualified for the job but because they have deep-seated hatry for any competent persons of color that Obama has nominated to high positions. Look at how they treat the current AG Eric Holder, how they got Van Jones fired and how they described judge Sotomayor as bully and incompetent before her confirmation.

    November 21, 2012 11:37 pm at 11:37 pm |
  7. Thomas

    Susan Rice, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations has done a great job,. Those republicans who are making such descreadidting allegations are not worthy of the jobs they hold. They dislike the United Nations ,and have done anything and everything to show contempt . Dose anybody remember John R. Bolton ,25th United States Ambassador to the United Nations and what a jurk he was ? Look at Rice's accusers , " John McCain . The only reason John McCain was accepted into the US Naveal Acadamy was because of his Father being an admiral . If he wasn't in politics he would be a greater at Wallmart. Lindsey Graham should have been held accountable for all his pro WMD Iraq war rederick ! And Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire , She thought she might be Romney's VP pic , a real angry lady who supported Mitt's illusions of truth till he lost the election . Then she dropped him like a lead bowling ball .

    It's funny seeing Rice's accusers acting like prosecuting attorneys , they couldn't even be excepted as jurors on a petty theft trial ! The Best and the Brightest , " NOT "

    November 22, 2012 12:01 am at 12:01 am |
  8. Jess

    She said what she did FIVE DAYS after the attack when NO intelligence reports said the attack was the result of a demonstration, let alone a demonstration over the video. For her to even suggest that, or even mention it, was pure deceit and a lie. The whole world knew she was lying when the Libyan official came on right after her and said the attack was a coordinated attack by terrorists. And yet for over a week, Obama also pointed to the video as the cause, even when he spoke at the UN. Lies, lies and more lies. What the Obama administration cannot cover up with the help of the LSM, they lie about and use Executive Privilege to hide. Most transparent administration??? Yet another lie....

    November 22, 2012 12:04 am at 12:04 am |
  9. Kate

    What amazes me is how demeaning and infantilizing it is o Susan Rice and everyone else in the White House to suggest or think that a people or religious organization , would be so immature and reactive to commit such horrific acts over a short movie made by an idiot. Its a real put down of the Muslim people – and that is worse they kept on saying the same thing over and over driving home to the world that they must be that shallow and stupid and barbaric to do this over something so ridiculous. Now the truth comes it – doesn't it make more sense? why propogate something that does nothing more than shames a community both there and here-?? Shortsighted, is an understatement –

    November 22, 2012 12:08 am at 12:08 am |
  10. Gregory M. Newbold

    Only Republican politicians, willing to appeal to the faux white superiority synapse in some people`s heads, could attempt to label Susan Rice as unqualified and/or incompetent to be Secretary of State.

    As with most minority high achievers, Ms. Rice`s experience and credentials are stellar: PhD, Rhoades scholar, foreign affairs expert advisor, UN Ambassador. It is intellectually insulting [and yet elucidating] to ALL women, Latinos, Asians, African Americans and THINKING white men that the Republican Party [through John McCain, Linsey Graham, Kelly Ayotte] thought they could or should attack this woman of color.

    Apologize NOW GOP`ers! It is the 1st step in your journey of 1,000 miles to restore your party`s credibility.

    November 22, 2012 12:09 am at 12:09 am |

    Of course, she waits unitl a national holiday to finally speak up – shameful. And the intlligence community have all testified that it was a terrorist attack – so her statement is contradictory. Anyway, she will be called to testify, so it doesn't matter what she's saying to the press right now.

    November 22, 2012 12:18 am at 12:18 am |
  12. just askin

    why did obama give this woman bad info and throw her under the bus? why weren't any of the intel community out there answering questions. this whole affair stinks from start to finish. 4 americans dead that should not be dead. total incompetence and gross negligence by the obama administration.

    November 22, 2012 12:23 am at 12:23 am |
  13. FubarObama

    Susan Rice is a puppet.. Sort of like Pinnachio

    November 22, 2012 12:32 am at 12:32 am |
  14. NameNC_Right

    Can we say cover up?

    November 22, 2012 12:53 am at 12:53 am |
  15. Jeff Brown in Jersey

    Stay strong Ms. Rice, don't let these jackals beat you!

    November 22, 2012 01:22 am at 1:22 am |
  16. ThinkAgain: All of the GOP's policies are PROVEN FAILURES

    The GOP is desperately flailing about looking for something to criticize the Obama Administration about.

    Lord knows they don't have any policies that actually work, care more about scoring political points than governing, and just can't seem to accept that THEY LOST.

    Grow up, grow a pair, and start working FOR our country, you numbskulls!

    November 22, 2012 01:57 am at 1:57 am |
  17. Jose

    McCain is not a patriot, far from. He should apologize to Rice and resign with the indignity he deserves immediately. He is a disgrace and a traitor, painfully revealed even through a superficial investigation of his life's story. His recent behaviour, from nominating Palin as his VP canadidate to his incindiary prosecution of Rice, makes it abundantly evident that he is not a hero at all. Never was, never will be. His status as a Vietnam POW hero is just an illusion and people need to stop patronizing him for what he is not deserving of. "Songbird" McCain, it all makes sense now. His fellow POWs were right all along. History will not be kind to this man. Rightfully so.

    November 22, 2012 02:03 am at 2:03 am |
  18. Wise1Speak


    It is pathetic and sad that millions can easily see the bitterness John McCain harbors against President Obama. The 'cranky old McCain' despises the 'smart, young, good looking Obama' because Obama beat him in the 2008 Presidential election.

    Get over it John, your bitterness is turning your soul into something very dark & wicked. Evil enough for you to make an attempt at destroying an innocent woman's character just so you can get back at President Obama. Sad, sad, sad!

    November 22, 2012 02:03 am at 2:03 am |
  19. fernace

    Thank you Susan Rice for your concise & informative comments! Of course, it won't be enough for the GOT-Party element, who won't let this matter rest! We have heard from many "insiders" including Senator Snow, that there's an ongoing effort to thwart any forward movement, solutions or compromise by the extremist right, at the expense of the nation & its people! Is this not treasonous!? Impeach Obama?? I think it would be more appropriate to impeach every single politician, who by Our Grace have voted him/her into office & a job, who stands in the way of recovery & progress w/ shenanigans even toddlers know is wrong! How dare these people hold us "hostage" in this manner when We & our Tax $$ is what allows them to have the cushy lives they lead! The arrogance is astounding! The current incarnation of the GOP has been usurped by extremists posing as patriots! I can only guess at their agenda, but can already tell it bodes no good for our nations future! Get ballots ready & vote them out in'14!!

    November 22, 2012 03:27 am at 3:27 am |
  20. joe mauro

    what a joke,blood is on her hands

    November 22, 2012 03:57 am at 3:57 am |
  21. krehator

    I'd really like to know what the Republican standard is? After watching the Bush Administration and their numerous failures, and constant lying, I'm not really sure how Republicans can criticize anyone.

    November 22, 2012 04:03 am at 4:03 am |
  22. Words

    She did say it was a preliminary assessment. But she also said it was based on intelligence. What intelligence could possibly lead to a conclusion that it was spontaneous and not planned as she stated? Obama claimed he called it a terror act on Sept 12. Why was his spokesman, Clinton and Ambassador Rice saying it was a protest over a video for a week after that? I think Obama knew it was a planned terror attack and told his people to lie to us.

    November 22, 2012 04:16 am at 4:16 am |
  23. Casey Collins

    Here we go again – there is no way McCain et al will confirm Ms. Rice for Secretary of State. The President may as well look elsewhere for a new Secretary of State. We cannot waste time on confirmations and hearings etc. This is one fight that is for another day. FORWARD, please.

    November 22, 2012 04:17 am at 4:17 am |
  24. mmi16

    McCain trying to create something out of less than nothing.

    November 22, 2012 04:18 am at 4:18 am |
  25. Wake up People!

    Maybe everyone should have waited until there was enough info to make a statement. Also what difference does it make WHAT the attack was called? People died and that's the bottom line. The problem is the do nothing chicken hawk rethuglicans trying to use this tragedy to score political points. Mittens and his BIG MOUTH making statements before anyone knew the entire story. Fox News had him thinking HE was the POTUS, when he was nothing but a private citizen.

    Let's put this to rest and get our country moving forward.

    Memo to the rethuglicans: YOU LOST! Got it? Stop trying to tell the POTUS what to do. HE IS THE PRESIDENT, NOT MITTENS NOR BOEHNER!
    If he wants Susan Rice he can appoint her, and the ACA is here to stay.

    November 22, 2012 04:34 am at 4:34 am |
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