In an interview with the Washington Post, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice is doubling down on her appearances on more than five Sunday talk shows days after the 9/11 attack in Benghazi wehn she blamed the violence on a YouTube video. Rice also said her comments about the video were based on information from the intelligence community, not from political players close to the Obama reelection team.
The administration’s characterization only days after Rice’s TV appearances that the assault in Libya was a terrorist attack has raised questions about why she attributed the incident to a protest that officials now say did not take place. Republicans have pressed for answers on whether she simply went too far in her assessment or was reading from an administration script that was designed to protect President Obama’s record on national security in an election year.
In an interview Monday with The Washington Post, Rice said she relied on daily updates from intelligence agencies in the days before her television appearances and on a set of talking points prepared for senior members of the administration by intelligence officials. She said there was no attempt to pick and choose among possible explanations for the attack.
“Absolutely not,” Rice said. “It was purely a function of what was provided to us” and had been given to Congress the day before.
“Ambassador Rice’s comments were prefaced at every turn with a clear statement that an investigation was underway that would provide the definitive accounting of the events that took place in Benghazi,” said Erin Pelton, spokeswoman for the U.S. Mission to the United Nations.
Rice's comments come just days after State Department officials testified before Congress about the lack of security in Libya leading up to the attack on 9/11. State Department official Charlene Lamb said under oath the attack was watched in real time, putting a dent in Rice's argument and the overall argument put out by the Obama adminstration that "the facts changed."