Ambassador Rice did her job and she did it well.
Five days after the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Susan Rice appeared on "Face the Nation" to give the public an update on the available information. She explained that it was too early to draw "definitive conclusions," but the "best information we have to date" suggested the violence "began spontaneously ... as a reaction to what had transpired some hours earlier in Cairo" in response to the anti-Islam internet video.
The ambassador then added, "But soon after that spontaneous protest began outside of our consulate in Benghazi, we believe that it looks like extremist elements, individuals, joined in that effort with heavy weapons." Asked about a possible al Qaeda role, Rice said this was unclear, explaining, "I think this is one of the things we'll have to determine."
For John McCain and other increasingly-hysterical Obama administration critics, Rice was lying and her use of the word "spontaneous" is itself an outrageous scandal. It's not altogether clear why this is causing far-right apoplexy, but this is where we find ourselves at this point.
In an interesting twist, CBS News obtained the CIA talking points given to Rice in preparation of her interview.
CBS News correspondent Margaret Brennan says the talking points, which were also given to members of the House intelligence committee, make no reference to terrorism being a likely factor in the assault, which left U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans dead. [...]In other words, what Rice said is, almost to the syllable, exactly what the combined judgment of the intelligence community believed as of the time of her interview. She wasn't lying; she wasn't incompetent; and she wasn't covering anything up.
The CIA's talking points read as follows: "The currently available information suggests that the demonstrations in Benghazi were spontaneously inspired by the protests at the US Embassy in Cairo and evolved into a direct assault against the US diplomatic post in Benghazi and subsequently its annex. There are indications that extremists participated in the violent demonstrations."
Yes, the CIA assessment later changed as more information became available, but that only bolsters what Rice said at the time -- that the search for answers was ongoing.
McCain's smear campaign simply isn't based on facts. The senator owes Rice an apology.
Yep. They're just convinced that Obama runs a gang of Chicago thugs who are lying and cheating behind the scenes at every opportunity. It's a foundational story on the tea-party right. Unfortunately, the reality is that whatever else you think of Obama, he's one of the straightest arrows we've had in the White House since ... forever. He runs a tight ship organizationally, and on a personal level he's so intolerant of personal peccadilloes that he sometimes seems almost inhuman. It would be astonishing if he could actually avoid a serious scandal for an entire eight-year term, but if anyone can do it, it's probably Obama.
And yes, it's driving Republicans crazy.
"Rep. Peter King (R-NY) has admitted that the CIA and intelligence community approved U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice’s talking points before she made her much-derided Sept. 16 appearance on several Sunday news shows to discuss the attacks in Benghazi. King, one of the most outspoken critics of the Obama administration’s response to the attack, came to his conclusion following testimony from former CIA Director David Petraeus.
After leaving the closed-door hearing, King spoke with reporters for several minutes about Petraeus’ statements. Rice’s television appearances were among the topics discussed, leading King to indicate that while Petraeus did not personally write Rice’s talking points, the CIA did approve them."
All of the posturing by the GOP on this tragedy is nothing more than political gamesmanship. And John McCain proved it by grandstanding in front of the cameras, losing his temper, when asked why he chose to come out with attitude to smear Ambassador Rice's reputation instead of actually attending a meeting that dealt with the Benghazi attack. Asked why he didn't attend the meeting on the Benghazi attack, McCain bellowed at the reporter who dared to ask him, and then had a meltdown because he was caught with his ugly-colored partisanship pants down around his ankles.
Benghazi is not a scandal