Over the weekend, Susan Rice broke her silence about her comments on the Sunday television shows five days after the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya. Asked about the harsh criticism of her voiced by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), the ambassador to the United Nations said, “I do think some of the statements he's made about me have been unfounded, but I do look forward to having the opportunity at the appropriate time to discuss all of this with him.” That opportunity came today, and it didn’t go so well.
After what appeared to be a softening of the hard edge against Rice, McCain, as well as Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), were back to their misguided and petty ways. All three declared themselves more “troubled”after the meeting than before. I understand their being troubled. I just wish they were troubled about the right thing.
The murder of four Americans in Benghazi, including Ambassador Christopher Stevens, demands answers. And that gets lost every time McCain, Graham and Ayotte troop to the cameras to hammer away at Rice for discussing the tragedy on television. On this front, The Post’s editorial on the “bizarre attack” on Rice got to the heart of the matter.
The oddity of the Republican response to what happened in Benghazi is partly this focus on half-baked conspiracy theories rather than on the real evidence of failures by the State Department, Pentagon and CIA in protecting the Benghazi mission.
Instead of focusing their needed attention on the deadly security lapses at the consulate in Benghazi, McCain and crew continue their petty nitpicking of Rice’s statements. Thanks to hindsight and more details, we now know that her remarks on Sept. 16 were incorrect. Even Rice and the administration admit that. But to call her a liar as a result is to completely ignore that she repeatedly said that the information she had was preliminary and that the FBI investigation would “give us the definitive word as to what transpired.”
As MSNBC’s Alex Wagner said with exasperation on her program, we know more about what Rice said than what actually happened in Benghazi. Imagine what we might know now if McCain, Graham and Ayotte spent their considerable camera time asking tough questions about security in Benghazi instead of throwing Rice in our faces.