White House National Security Adviser Susan E. Rice has developed a reputation among those who work with her for harshly criticizing people by using the “F bomb,” according to current and former U.S. officials familiar with two exchanges.
The first case involved a 2013 White House meeting between Ms. Rice and Gen.Keith Alexander, who was director of the National Security Agency, regarding NSA spying on foreign leaders including German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
According to one senior U.S. official, Ms. Rice opened the conversation with the four-star general, now retired, with: “Why the [expletive] are you listening to Angela Merkel’s phone calls?” The angry comment was prompted by disclosures of NSA spying on foreign leaders that were contained in pilfered documents obtained by fugitive NSA contractor Edward Snowden.
The normally reserved Gen. Alexander was said to have fired back: “Because you told us to.”
Gen. Alexander could not be reached for comment about the exchange. White House National Security Council spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan declined to comment.
Ms. Rice’s second official F-bomb exchange took place in September during a visit to the U.S. Embassy in Beijing during a meeting with officials of the embassy’s political affairs section. According to this account, the national security adviser sought out the political section officials for their expertise, rather than current Ambassador Max Baucus, a political appointee.
“What the f—k is happening in North Korea and what are you doing about it?” Ms. Rice was heard to say to the officials, who later expressed surprised at the profanity-laced opening.
The embassy officials’ response could not be learned, but a former official familiar with the exchange praised the work of the diplomats in dealing with the Chinese on North Korea.
A spokeswoman for the U.S. Embassy could not be reached for comment.