GOP’s Collins has questions after Rice meeting on Benghazi

  • U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice leaves after meeting with Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn) in the Senate Visitors Center on Capitol Hill, Washington, D.C., Wednesday, November 28, 2012. (Andrew Harnik/The Washington Times)U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice leaves after meeting with Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn) in the Senate Visitors Center on Capitol Hill, Washington, D.C., Wednesday, November 28, 2012. (Andrew Harnik/The Washington Times)
  • Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn), center, leaves after meeting with U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice in the Senate Visitors Center on Capitol Hill, Washington, D.C., Wednesday, November 28, 2012. (Andrew Harnik/The Washington Times)Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn), center, leaves after meeting with U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice in the Senate Visitors Center on Capitol Hill, Washington, D.C., Wednesday, November 28, 2012. (Andrew Harnik/The Washington Times)
  • U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice leaves after meeting with Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn) in the Senate Visitors Center on Capitol Hill, Washington, D.C., Wednesday, November 28, 2012. (Andrew Harnik/The Washington Times)U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice leaves after meeting with Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn) in the Senate Visitors Center on Capitol Hill, Washington, D.C., Wednesday, November 28, 2012. (Andrew Harnik/The Washington Times)
  • Sen. Susan M. Collins, Maine Republican (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)Sen. Susan M. Collins, Maine Republican (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
  • U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice leaves after meeting with Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn) in the Senate Visitors Center on Capitol Hill, Washington, D.C., Wednesday, November 28, 2012. (Andrew Harnik/The Washington Times)U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice leaves after meeting with Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn) in the Senate Visitors Center on Capitol Hill, Washington, D.C., Wednesday, November 28, 2012. (Andrew Harnik/The Washington Times)
  • ** FILE ** Sen. Bob Corker, Tennessee Republican (Andrew Harnik/The Washington Times)** FILE ** Sen. Bob Corker, Tennessee Republican (Andrew Harnik/The Washington Times)
  • U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice leaves after meeting with Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn) in the Senate Visitors Center on Capitol Hill, Washington, D.C., Wednesday, November 28, 2012. (Andrew Harnik/The Washington Times)U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice leaves after meeting with Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn) in the Senate Visitors Center on Capitol Hill, Washington, D.C., Wednesday, November 28, 2012. (Andrew Harnik/The Washington Times)
  • Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Sen. Joseph Lieberman, I-Conn. speaks with reporters on Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Nov. 27, 2012, following a closed meeting with UN Ambassador Susan Rice, and acting CIA Director Michael Morell. Rice is considered a likely choice to succeed Hillary Rodham Clinton as secretary of state, but she has been sharply criticized by GOP lawmakers about comments she made following the deadly Sept. 11 attack on a U.S. consulate in Libya.  (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Sen. Joseph Lieberman, I-Conn. speaks with reporters on Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Nov. 27, 2012, following a closed meeting with UN Ambassador Susan Rice, and acting CIA Director Michael Morell. Rice is considered a likely choice to succeed Hillary Rodham Clinton as secretary of state, but she has been sharply criticized by GOP lawmakers about comments she made following the deadly Sept. 11 attack on a U.S. consulate in Libya. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
  • Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee and the Senate Homeland Security Committee, center, accompanied by fellow Senate Armed Services Committee member, Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H.,, right, gestures while speaking to reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Nov. 27, 2012, after a closed-door meeting with UN Ambassador Susan Rice.  (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee and the Senate Homeland Security Committee, center, accompanied by fellow Senate Armed Services Committee member, Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H.,, right, gestures while speaking to reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Nov. 27, 2012, after a closed-door meeting with UN Ambassador Susan Rice. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
  • Senate Armed Services Committee member, Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., right, accompanied by fellow committee member, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., center, speaks to reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Nov. 27, 2012, following a meeting with UN Ambassador Susan Rice . Rice met with lawmakers to discuss statements she made about the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Libya that left the ambassador and three other Americans dead. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)Senate Armed Services Committee member, Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., right, accompanied by fellow committee member, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., center, speaks to reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Nov. 27, 2012, following a meeting with UN Ambassador Susan Rice . Rice met with lawmakers to discuss statements she made about the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Libya that left the ambassador and three other Americans dead. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
  • Acting CIA Director Michael Morell, center, arrives on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Nov. 27, 2012,  for a closed-door meeting with UN Ambassador Susan Rice who could find her name in contention as early as this week to succeed Hillary Rodham Clinton as secretary of state. Rice has been criticized by some GOP senators for her comments following the deadly Sept. 11 attack on a U.S. consulate in Libya. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)Acting CIA Director Michael Morell, center, arrives on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Nov. 27, 2012, for a closed-door meeting with UN Ambassador Susan Rice who could find her name in contention as early as this week to succeed Hillary Rodham Clinton as secretary of state. Rice has been criticized by some GOP senators for her comments following the deadly Sept. 11 attack on a U.S. consulate in Libya. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
  • UN Ambassador Susan Rice arrives for a meeting on Capitol Hill in Washington Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2012, with Sen. Susan Collins, R- Maine and Sen. Corker, R-Tenn., to discuss the Benghazi terrorist attack. Rice continued her fight Wednesday to win over skeptics in the Senate who could block her chances at becoming the next U.S. secretary of state, while Republican lawmakers said they were even more troubled after face-to-face meetings with her over the handling of the Sept. 11 deadly attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya.  (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)UN Ambassador Susan Rice arrives for a meeting on Capitol Hill in Washington Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2012, with Sen. Susan Collins, R- Maine and Sen. Corker, R-Tenn., to discuss the Benghazi terrorist attack. Rice continued her fight Wednesday to win over skeptics in the Senate who could block her chances at becoming the next U.S. secretary of state, while Republican lawmakers said they were even more troubled after face-to-face meetings with her over the handling of the Sept. 11 deadly attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)
  • Sen. John McCain (center), ranking Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, flanked by Sen. Kelly Ayotte (left) and Sen. Lindsey Graham, who are fellow committee members, speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington on Tuesday, Nov. 27, 2012, following a meeting with U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice. Ms. Rice met with the lawmakers to discuss statements she made about the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Libya that left the ambassador and three other Americans dead. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)Sen. John McCain (center), ranking Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, flanked by Sen. Kelly Ayotte (left) and Sen. Lindsey Graham, who are fellow committee members, speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington on Tuesday, Nov. 27, 2012, following a meeting with U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice. Ms. Rice met with the lawmakers to discuss statements she made about the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Libya that left the ambassador and three other Americans dead. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
  • **FILE** Carry teams move flag-draped transfer cases of the remains of the four Americans killed in Benghazi, Libya, from a transport plane during the Transfer of Remains ceremony on Sept. 14, 2012, at Andrews Air Force Base in suburban Washington. (Associated Press)**FILE** Carry teams move flag-draped transfer cases of the remains of the four Americans killed in Benghazi, Libya, from a transport plane during the Transfer of Remains ceremony on Sept. 14, 2012, at Andrews Air Force Base in suburban Washington. (Associated Press)
  • Susan Rice, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, leans near Syria's desk space as she takes a call before voting on a draft resolution backing an Arab League call for Syrian President Bashar Assad to step down, which was vetoed by Russia and China, during a meeting of the U.N. Security Council at the world body's headquarters on Saturday, Feb. 4, 2012. The unusual weekend session came as Syrian forces pummeled the city of Homs with mortars and artillery in what activists are calling one of the bloodiest episodes of the uprising. (AP Photo/Jason DeCrow)Susan Rice, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, leans near Syria's desk space as she takes a call before voting on a draft resolution backing an Arab League call for Syrian President Bashar Assad to step down, which was vetoed by Russia and China, during a meeting of the U.N. Security Council at the world body's headquarters on Saturday, Feb. 4, 2012. The unusual weekend session came as Syrian forces pummeled the city of Homs with mortars and artillery in what activists are calling one of the bloodiest episodes of the uprising. (AP Photo/Jason DeCrow)
  • Libyan civilians celebrate the raiding of the Ansar al-Shariah Brigades compound by hundreds of Libyans, the military and police in Benghazi, Libya, on Friday, Sept. 21, 2012. The recent attack in Benghazi that killed the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans has sparked a backlash among frustrated Libyans against the heavily armed gunmen, including Islamic extremists, who run rampant in their cities. More than 10,000 people poured into a main boulevard of Benghazi, demanding that the militias disband as the public tries to do what Libya's weak central government has been unable to. (AP Photo/Mohammad Hannon)Libyan civilians celebrate the raiding of the Ansar al-Shariah Brigades compound by hundreds of Libyans, the military and police in Benghazi, Libya, on Friday, Sept. 21, 2012. The recent attack in Benghazi that killed the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans has sparked a backlash among frustrated Libyans against the heavily armed gunmen, including Islamic extremists, who run rampant in their cities. More than 10,000 people poured into a main boulevard of Benghazi, demanding that the militias disband as the public tries to do what Libya's weak central government has been unable to. (AP Photo/Mohammad Hannon)
  • U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton (left) and Susan Rice, U.S. ambassador to United Nations, listen as President Obama addresses the 67th session of the U.N. General Assembly at the world body's headquarters on Tuesday, Sept. 25, 2012. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton (left) and Susan Rice, U.S. ambassador to United Nations, listen as President Obama addresses the 67th session of the U.N. General Assembly at the world body's headquarters on Tuesday, Sept. 25, 2012. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan E. Rice met Wednesday with key Republican senators, but her effort to allay questions about how the Obama administration initially described the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, was no more successful than it had been Tuesday.

“I still have many questions that remain unanswered,” Sen. Susan M. Collins of Maine told reporters after she and fellow Republican Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee met Mrs. Rice, who is widely tipped as a possible nominee to be the next secretary of state.

Mr. Corker is in line to be the ranking Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee next year. If President Obama taps Mrs. Rice to head the State Department, the committee would hold confirmation hearings on her nomination.

Republicans have criticized Mrs. Rice for insisting five days after the military-style assault that it had grown out of a spontaneous protest against an anti-Muslim video. U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans were killed in the attack.

Mrs. Rice has said that her comments to several Sunday TV talk shows on Sept. 16 were based on unclassified talking points prepared by the U.S. intelligence community.

Tuesday, she acknowledged that the talking points and the initial intelligence assessments on which they were based were wrong.

But that acknowledgment failed to assuage the concerns of her fiercest Republican critics — Sens. John McCain of Arizona, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, all members of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Mrs. Collins, widely regarded as a moderate Republican, said she would need more information before she would agree to consider supporting a possible Rice nomination to replace Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, who has said she wants to step down.

“I continue to be troubled by the fact that the U.N. ambassador chose to play what was essentially a political role” at the height of the election campaign by appearing as the administration’s spokeswoman about Benghazi, Mrs. Collins said.

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About the Author
Shaun Waterman

Shaun Waterman

Shaun Waterman is an award-winning reporter for The Washington Times, covering foreign affairs, defense and cybersecurity. He was a senior editor and correspondent for United Press International for nearly a decade, and has covered the Department of Homeland Security since 2003. His reporting on the Sept. 11 Commission and the tortuous process by which some of its recommendations finally became ...

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