- South Africa to prosecute after giraffe killed during truck transport
- Edge in Democrat-leaning Americans not enough to make up for GOP turnout: poll
- London mayor flies Palestinian flag at town hall to support Gaza
- U.N. condemns Israel, U.S. for not sharing Iron Dome with Hamas
- Eric Cantor says he’ll resign on Aug. 18
- Ted Nugent slams ‘lying freaks’ at liberal media: I’m ‘doing God’s work’
- Joe Biden’s secret love: Skinny-dipping, Secret Service agents say
- Just-forged Israel-Hamas cease-fire ends in rocket fire
- Obama military downsizing leaves U.S. too weak to counter global threats, panel finds
- Sen. Tom Coburn vows to slow down budget-busting bills ahead of recess
Republicans attack Rice, not race
Democrats try to make investigation of Libya recounts a matter of bias
Question of the Day
Republicans shot down Democratic charges that ongoing criticism of U.N. Ambassador Susan E. Rice is couched in racism or sexism, and pressed President Obama for more answers on the Sept. 11 attack in Benghazi, Libya, as partisan battle lines hardened Wednesday over the incident and its aftermath.
“The only color I’m worried about when it comes to Benghazi is red — blood red — the death of four Americans,” the South Carolina Republican said on “Fox and Friends.” “When you can’t answer the question, you attack the questioner.”
Mrs. Rice, who has emerged as a prime focus of the Benghazi investigation on Capitol Hill, spoke out herself Wednesday for the first time on the topic since appearing on a string of Sunday talk shows immediately after the attack.
On those shows, saying she was speaking on the basis of the best intelligence at the time, she downplayed suggestions that the strike on the U.S. Consulate in Libya was a premeditated terrorist attack by elements linked to al Qaeda. She also tied the attack, which killed Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans, to an anti-Islam video.
Republicans’ full-blown leap into the fray indicates that questions about Mrs. Rice and her potential nomination as secretary of state will not dissipate soon. Mr. Graham and Sen. John McCain, Arizona Republican, have pledged to try to block any nomination, saying her misleading characterization in the days after the incident points to questions about her competence and trustworthiness, not of her race or gender.
“[She] told a story, based on a video, that led to the death of the Americans, and that story was not based on any intelligence that we possess,” Mr. Graham said Wednesday on Fox News Radio’s “Kilmeade and Friends.” “So somebody made this story up, and if she had access to the true intelligence and didn’t check it, I think that is incompetence on her part. I don’t think any senior official of any administration should go on national television and assure the American people that the deaths of four Americans can be explained by the following if they don’t know what they’re talking about.”
Speaking to reporters Wednesday outside the U.N. Security Council, Mrs. Rice did not blame race or sex for the furor. But she did say that while she respects Mr. McCain, “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.”
Mr. Graham’s office released a letter Wednesday that he wrote to President Obama, dated Nov. 20, with about a dozen specific questions about the attack. Among those questions are why Mrs. Rice, who was not involved in Benghazi, was chosen to explain it to the public instead of someone with firsthand knowledge of the consulate or the administration’s response when it was under attack.
“The American people deserve answers to what actions you and members of your Administration took before, during, and after the Benghazi attack,” Mr. Graham wrote. “I am committed to finding out the truth and working to ensure a debacle like Benghazi does not happen again.”
The White House did not respond to a request for comment on the letter Wednesday, but the president defended Mrs. Rice at a news conference last week, inviting critics, such as Mr. McCain and Mr. Graham, to “go after me.”
He also revealed that it was the White House that sent Mrs. Rice to the talk shows and said she relayed the best available intelligence at the time. It was later revealed that the office of Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper deleted information about al Qaeda and terrorism from the talking points given to other administration officials shortly after the attack, deciding that the information was too tenuous to cite publicly. Since then, the administration has acknowledged that the two-pronged assault was in fact a terrorist attack.
Mrs. Rice repeated that claim Wednesday, saying she had “relied solely and squarely on the information provided to me by the intelligence community” and had “made clear that the information was preliminary, and that our investigations would give us the definitive answers.”
Rep. James P. Moran of Virginia joined the Democratic chorus of defense Wednesday, calling the attacks on Mrs. Rice “misguided and wholly inappropriate” and labeling them a distraction from important international security concerns.
“Regarding her statements following the Benghazi attack, Ambassador Rice simply relayed the assessments given to her by the intelligence community at that time,” Mr. Moran said. “She did nothing less than her duty, as has been made clear in the intervening weeks by the testimony of former director of the CIA David Petraeus.”
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
David Sherfinski covers politics for The Washington Times. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Williams: Maureen McDonnell's high-dollar requests seemed excessive
- Trips, loans for McDonnell family detailed at trial
- Star witness in Bob McDonnell corruption trial refutes 'crush' defense
- Defense lawyer: McDonnell's wife had 'crush' on CEO
- Wilder, Cuccinelli may be called as witnesses in McDonnell trial
Latest Blog Entries
- Dick Cheney: Hillary Clinton 'clearly bears responsibility' on Benghazi
- Holder vows to press ahead on gun control fight
- Seven of 10 prefer that Obama work with Congress, not go around it: Poll
- Schumer: Tea party hasn't let Obama put his policies into effect
- GOP official: Black not running for Wolf's House seat
TWT Video Picks
Both parties recognize the Democrats' scam
- Inside the Ring: Israel surprised by Hamas tunnel network
- Obama military strategy too weak for future security, panel reports
- Israel surprised by Hamas tunnel network
- PRUDEN: Cooling the manufactured impeachment panic
- Chicken pox outbreak puts illegal immigrant facility on lockdown
- 'Big Bang' star Mayim Bialik helps send bulletproof vests to IDF
- Congress leaves Obama holding the burden of border children
- Just-forged Israel-Hamas 3-day cease-fire ends in rocket fire
- Islamic militants seize Benghazi as U.S. evacuates Libya
- 3 African leaders cancel trip to U.S. over Ebola outbreak; Obama still plans summit
Obama's biggest White House 'fails'
Celebrities turned politicians
Athletes turned actors
20 gadgets that changed the world