Susan Rice tells diplomats she still ‘mourns’ Benghazi deaths

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White House national security adviser Susan E. Rice told U.S. diplomats Tuesday that she still mourns the deaths of four Americans who were killed in a terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya, in September 2012.

At a State Department conference in Washington, Ms. Rice said she has “experienced directly some of this department’s greatest tragedies,” including bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998.

“Like all of you, [I] continue to mourn the death of Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other brave Americans in Benghazi just 18 months ago,” Ms. Rice said.

The four died during an assault by forces linked to Al Qaeda in Libya, during the height of President Obama’s reelection campaign. Ms. Rice was roundly criticized by Republicans for initially explaining on TV talk shows that the attack was a result of anti-American protests over a video that was offensive to Muslims.

Late last month, Ms. Rice admitted that her information wasn’t “100 percent correct” but said she had been providing the best information she had available at the time from various government sources. The episode contributed to her failing to be nominated by President Obama to become secretary of state.

At the conference, Ms. Rice said U.S. diplomats face risks daily around the globe.

“The threat of terrorist attacks and extremist violence is often present,” she said. “And, we here back home have a solemn obligation to keep you safe.”

She said the administration is doing its best to protect diplomatic facilities abroad even during tight budget times.

“Please know that President Obama and all of us at the White House and the State Department are most concerned both that you stay safe and that the critical work you all do is not the casualty of another horrific attack,” Ms. Rice said. “We are committed — even in this difficult budget environment — to making sure you have the resources and the support you need to carry out your mission as safely as possible.”

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