UN Ambassador Susan Rice Defends Herself on Benghazi
(UNITED NATIONS) -- At a press briefing at the United Nations Wednesday, Ambassador Susan Rice gave a spirited defense of her actions following the Benghazi consulate attack, telling reporters that her talking points in interviews on the Sunday political shows following the attack were based solely on the information the intelligence community provided to her.
“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. The attack on Benghazi—on our facilities in Benghazi—was obviously a significant piece of this,” said Rice.
“When discussing the attacks against 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 and that our investigations would give us the definitive answers,” she said. “Everyone, particularly the intelligence community, has worked in good faith to provide the best assessment based on the information available.”
Rice said the on-going FBI investigation and the State Department’s internal investigation will become “the definitive accounting of what occurred.”
She talked about her personal feelings towards Ambassador Chris Stevens, a man she said she had the privilege of working closely with following the fall of Gadhafi.
“He was a valued colleague, and his loss and that of his three colleagues is a massive tragedy for all of us who serve in the U.S. government and for all the American people,” said Rice. “None of us will rest, none of us will be satisfied until we have the answers and the terrorists responsible for this attack are brought to justice.”
Her words for Senator John McCain were not so warm, calling his attacks against her “unwarranted.”
“Let me be very clear. I have great respect for Senator McCain and his service to our country. I always have, and I always will,” said Rice. “I do think that some of the statements he’s made about me have been unfounded, but I look forward to having the opportunity at the appropriate time to discuss all of this with him.”
Rice’s comments came from questions following her prepared remarks about the Israel-Hamas cease-fire, where she said the United States welcomed the announcement.
“We are deeply grateful to those who showed such leadership and determination to bring it about,” she said. “In the days ahead, the United States will work with partners across the region to consolidate the progress made today, to improve conditions for the people of Gaza through the urgent provision of humanitarian assistance, and to provide lasting security for Israelis and Palestinians.”
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