bureaucracybusters

FORGIVABLE–AND UNFORGIVABLE–TRAGEDIES: PART ONE (OF FIVE)

In Uncategorized on November 27, 2012 at 12:05 am

Republicans in the Senate and House of Representatives are once again on a witch hunt.

This time, their intended victim is Susan Rice, United States ambassador to the United Nations, and a possible successor to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

With the re-election of President Barack Obama, Clinton is not expected to stay on during his second term.

And the reason for the witch hunt?

On September 11, a terrorist attack on the United States diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, left four Americans dead–including U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens.

U.S. compound in Benghazi under attack

Hours before the Benghazi violence, a mob had attacked the U.S. Embassy in Cairo in response to a “blasphemous” anti-Muslim video posted on YouTube.

Appearing on several political talk-shows just days after the attack, Rice attributed the attacks to the video. Later investigation showed it was the work of an Al Qaeda terrorist cell.

The Benghazi attack came on the 11th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks on New York and Washington, D.C., which killed about 3,000 Americans.

Republicans–and especially then-Presidential candidate Mitt Romney–charged that the Libya assault was clearly a terrorist attack aimed at the anniversary.

Republicans have since demanded that President Obama abandon any plans he might have to nominate Rice as Clinton’s replacement as Secretary of State.

Responding to her critics, Rice held a press conference outside the U.N. Security Council on November 21:

“As a senior U.S. diplomat, I agreed to a White House request to appear on the Sunday shows to talk about the full range of national security issues of the day, which at that time were primarily and particularly the protests that were enveloping and threatening many diplomatic facilities, American diplomatic facilities around the world, and Iran’s nuclear program.

“When discussing the attack against our facilities in Benghazi, I relied solely and squarely on the information provided to me by the intelligence community. I made clear that the information was preliminary, and that our investigations would give us the definitive answers.

“Everyone, particularly the intelligence community, has worked in good faith to provide the best assessment based on the information available.

“…I knew Chris Stevens.  I worked closely with him and had the privilege of doing so as we tried together, as a government, to free the Libyan people from the tyranny of [Libyan leader Moammar] Kadaffi.

Christopher Stevens

“He was a valued colleague, and his loss, as well as the loss of his three colleagues, is a massive tragedy for all of us who serve in the U.S. government, and for all the American people,” said Rice.

Rice is no diplomatic lightweight.  She is a former Brookings Institute fellow, and served on the staff of the National Security Council and as Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs during President Bill Clinton’s second term.

She was confirmed by unanimous consent of the Senate as America’s ambassador to the UN on January 22, 2009.

Yet, on November 19, almost 100 House Republicans sent President Barack Obama a letter, urging him to not nominate her as Secretary of State.

They argued that Rice’s credibility had been irreparably damaged by her statements coming after the Libya attacks.

“Dear Mr. President,” the letter opened.  “We, the undersigned, are deeply troubled by your current comments that you are considering Ambassador Susan Rice to succeed Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State.

“…We believe [Rice’s] misleading statements over the days and weeks following the attack on our embassy in Libya that led to the deaths of Ambassador Stevens and three other Americans caused irreparable damage to her credibility both at home and around the world.

“In her interviews over that time, Ambassador Rice propagated a falsehood that the attacks were ‘spontaneous,’ the outcome of a protest ‘spun out of control’ and the result of a YouTube video.

“Only on September 19–eight days after the attack–did the American people learn from National Counterterrorism Director Matthew Olson that the intelligence services quickly considered the attack an act of terrorism and that Al Qaeda may have played a role.

“We believe that making her the face of U.S. foreign policy…would greatly undermine your desire to improve U.S. relations with the world,” the letter concluded.

Dianne Feinstein, the Democratic U.S. Senator from California and chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, told NBC’s “Meet the Press” that Rice had solid reason to not label the Benghazi attack a terrorist mission.

That view, said Feinstein, was based on information that had not yet been cleared by intelligence officials for public release.

But that didn’t make any difference to Rice’s critics.

Republicans claim to be “deeply troubled” by Rice’s behavior after a tragedy that left four dead Americans in its wake.

But they showed no such concern when the George W. Bush administration refused to seriously address mounting evidence that Al Qaeda planned to strike inside the United States.

And when that refusal snuffed out the lives of 3,000 Americans.

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