Susan Rice’s Hill Visit Fails to Assuage Critics
By Matt Vasilogambros
U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice’s harshest critics in the Senate said they are more troubled now about her response to the attack in Benghazi than they were before their meeting with her on Tuesday morning.
“Bottom line, I’m more disturbed now than I was before,” Lindsey Graham said.
“The 16 September explanation about how four Americans died in Benghazi, Libya, by Ambassador Rice, I think, does not do justice to the reality at the time and in hindsight clearly was completely wrong,” he said.
Rice asked to meet with Sens. John McCain, Graham, and Kelly Ayotte to discuss the statements she made about Benghazi in the days after the attack on the American consulate there. At the time, Rice did not cite any al-Qaida involvement, instead calling the incident a spontaneous spinoff from previous protests over an anti-Islamic online video.
Later, intelligence officials said the talking points she was using were changed for security reasons.
“We are significantly troubled by many of the answers that we got and some that we didn’t get concerning evidence that was overwhelming leading up to the attack on our consulate,” McCain said after the morning meeting with Rice. “It is clear that the information that she gave the American people was incorrect.”
Acting CIA Director Michael Morell, who took over following the resignation of David Petraeus, sat next to Rice during the meeting.
The senators have called for a special, select committee to investigate the attack.
While Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has said he would not allow the special panel, the Republicans’ criticism of Rice could hurt her chances to win Senate confirmation if nominated to succeed Hillary Clinton as secretary of State.
Ayotte said she still has “many more questions that need to be answered” before supporting a Rice nomination to that position.