Critics respond to Rice’s withdrawal

December 13, 2012

U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice's top Republican critics welcomed her decision her decision to remove her name from consideration for nomination as the next secretary of state while emphasizing that their concerns about the administration's handling of the Sept. 11 attack in Benghazi persist. 

“I respect Ambassador Rice’s decision. President Obama has many talented people to choose from to serve as our next Secretary of State," Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said in a statement.

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), another critic, “thanks Ambassador Rice for her service to the country and wishes her well," spokesman Brian Rogers said in a statement. 

“I respect Susan Rice’s decision and appreciate her commitment to public service," Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) added. "However, my concerns regarding the terrorist attack in Benghazi go beyond any one individual. I remain deeply troubled by the continued lack
of information from the White House and the State Department." 

All three senators had pledged to block Rice's nomination, should it occur, over her initial characterization of the assault at a diplomatic outpost in Libya as a protest that turned violent. Along with fellow Republicans, they argued that Rice is untrustworthy due to those statements, which officials have said were merely a summation of the intelligence available at the time.

“I have no intention of promoting anyone who is up to their eyeballs in the Benghazi debacle," he warned in a mid-November statement.

On Thursday, Graham made clear that Rice's decision would not satisfy his concerns about alleged intelligence and security lapses surrounding the Benghazi attack. 

“When it comes to Benghazi I am determined to find out what happened – before, during, and after the attack," Graham wrote. "Unfortunately, the White House and other agencies are stonewalling when it comes to providing the relevant information. I find this unacceptable."

Rachel Weiner covers local politics for The Washington Post.
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Rachel Weiner · December 13, 2012