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Entries in Susan Rice (10)

Thursday
Dec132012

John Kerry Nomination Could Create Musical Chairs for Scott Brown in Senate

State Department photo(WASHINGTON) -- News that Amb. Susan Rice withdrew her name from consideration for Secretary of State may have brightened the days of both senators from Massachusetts.

Prior to Rice’s withdrawal, she was considered one of the top two contenders for the job -- the other is Sen. John Kerry, and with Rice out of the running, Kerry is “all but certain” to get the nomination, according to ABC’s Jake Tapper.  That means a vacant seat and a special election, which could benefit out-going Sen. Scott Brown, who lost his bid for reelection to Elizabeth Warren in November.

Brown is widely expected to seek out his old job and he would be viewed as a strong contender, particularly in a special election to fill Kerry’s vacancy. Republicans have a tendency to perform better in special elections, which draw many fewer voters.

But it would be at least six months -- assuming that Kerry is indeed nominated as Secretary of State and assuming that Brown wins a special election -- before he could re-join the Senate.

Massachusetts law dictates that a special election cannot take place sooner than 145 days from the time an out-going Congress member’s resignation is effective, meaning that at least 145 days must pass between the date that member actually leaves their job and the date that the special occurs. At this juncture in time, even if Kerry is nominated tomorrow and has an incredibly quick confirmation at the beginning of the next Congress, the earliest conceivable date to reach this mark is in June 2013.

The special cannot occur more than 160 days from the time that the resignation is effective.

Brown’s victory in a special election would not be a sure thing. Although he leaves office with high approval ratings -- exit polls from the 2012 election showed him with a favorability rating of 60 percent -- but Massachusetts is a solidly Democratic state, and there are many Democrats in elected office in the state who could challenge Brown.

In an odd twist of political gamesmanship, the law requiring a special election instead of an appointment from the governor in the event of a vacant seat was passed by Democrats passed in Massachusetts in 2004 in case Kerry resigned if he won the presidency. He did not. But Democrats at the time were trying to take the appointment power away from the sitting Republican governor -- Mitt Romney.

A request for comment from Sen. Brown’s office on the news was not immediately returned.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Nov262012

Susan Rice to Meet with Lawmakers on Capitol Hill, Including John McCain

TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice will be on Capitol Hill this week to meet with individual members of Congress to discuss the Benghazi attacks, aides on Capitol Hill confirm. She will come face-to-face with many senators who have opposed her possible nomination to be the next secretary of state.

She is scheduled for a Tuesday morning meeting with Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who, though he has backed off recently, has been perhaps most vocal in saying he would oppose Rice if nominated by President Obama to succeed Hillary Clinton.

McCain had said in the past he’d be willing to filibuster Rice’s nomination and do “whatever is necessary to block the nomination” of Rice if it came to that because of how she handled the aftermath of the Libya attack.  This weekend McCain notably backed off on his threat, saying he’d “give everyone the benefit of explaining their position and the actions that they took.”

Rice will also meet with Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., who has also been critical of the administration’s handling of the immediate fallout the Benghazi attack.

Aides on Capitol Hill say that Rice is expected to meet with many other members of Congress this week.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Sunday
Nov252012

Sen. Lindsey Graham Rejects Amb. Susan Rice’ Self-Defense

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Sen. Lindsey Graham, (R-S.C.), said Sunday he does not believe that U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice relied on the most accurate information from the intelligence community when she provided a public explanation for the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya.

“I’m increasingly convinced that the best and current intelligence assessment on 16 September went against the video.  The video was a political smokescreen,” Graham said on “This Week With George Stephanopoulos.” “The actual facts were this was a coordinated, pre-planned terrorist attack.”

Speaking at the United Nations on Wednesday, Rice said that some of the attacks leveled against her by Republican lawmakers were “unfounded.”

“When discussing the attacks 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,” Rice said.

Graham rejected that explanation again Sunday.

“My belief is that there was a mountain of intel to dispute the video characterization,” Graham said Sunday. “There was really no intel saying this was a spontaneous event.”

Asked whether he would oppose Rice’s potential nomination as Secretary of State, Graham would not repeat his past assertions that she should be disqualified for the post if President Obama chooses to nominate her.

“When she comes over, if she does, there will be a lot of questions asked of her about this event and others,” Graham said. “But I do not believe the video is the cause … I don’t believe it was ever the reason for this. That was a political story, not an intel story, and we’re going to hold people accountable.”

Earlier this month, Graham had said that because of the explanation Rice gave for the Benghazi attack, he was “dead set” on making sure Rice isn’t “promoted.”

On Sunday he added that he would pursue an investigation into Benghazi “like we got to the bottom of Iran-Contra,” referring to the 1980s scandal when the Reagan administration made a secret deal with Iran to sell them weapons in exchange for the release of American hostages held in Lebanon, and some of the money from the sale was diverted to support the Contra rebels fighting the Sandinista government in Nicaragua.

“We’re not going to let up on this,” he said.

Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin insisted that Republicans are unfairly focusing on Rice’s statements after the attack.

“If this were an NFL game, the critics of Ambassador Rice would be penalized for piling on,” Durbin said. “For goodness sake, she got the report from the intelligence community; she dutifully reported it to the public, just exactly what we expect her to do.

“They had decided not to include the al Qaeda references so we wouldn’t compromise our sources in Benghazi and in Libya,” he said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Nov212012

UN Ambassador Susan Rice Defends Herself on Benghazi

TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images(UNITED NATIONS) -- At a press briefing at the United Nations Wednesday, Ambassador Susan Rice gave a spirited defense of her actions following the Benghazi consulate attack, telling reporters that her talking points in interviews on the Sunday political shows following the attack were based solely on the information the intelligence community provided to her.
 
“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. The attack on Benghazi—on our facilities in Benghazi—was obviously a significant piece of this,” said Rice.
 
“When discussing the attacks 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,” she said.  “Everyone, particularly the intelligence community, has worked in good faith to provide the best assessment based on the information available.”
 
Rice said the on-going FBI investigation and the State Department’s internal investigation will become “the definitive accounting of what occurred.”
 
She talked about her personal feelings towards Ambassador Chris Stevens, a man she said she had the privilege of working closely with following the fall of Gadhafi.  

“He was a valued colleague, and his loss and that 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. “None of us will rest, none of us will be satisfied until we have the answers and the terrorists responsible for this attack are brought to justice.”
 
Her words for Senator John McCain were not so warm, calling his attacks against her “unwarranted.”
 
“Let me be very clear. I have great respect for Senator McCain and his service to our country. I always have, and I always will,” said Rice. “I do think that some of the statements he’s made about me have been unfounded, but I look forward to having the opportunity at the appropriate time to discuss all of this with him.”
 
Rice’s comments came from questions following her prepared remarks about the Israel-Hamas cease-fire, where she said the United States welcomed the announcement.

“We are deeply grateful to those who showed such leadership and determination to bring it about,” she said. “In the days ahead, the United States will work with partners across the region to consolidate the progress made today, to improve conditions for the people of Gaza through the urgent provision of humanitarian assistance, and to provide lasting security for Israelis and Palestinians.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Nov212012

John McCain Surprised by DNI Benghazi Talking Points Admission

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- Sen. John McCain, one of the loudest critics of the White House reaction to the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, admitted on Tuesday that he was surprised that the Director of National Intelligence admitted to removing references to al Qaeda in the talking points memo that followed the deaths of Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.

United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice has been on the hot seat since she read from the talking points, which initially blamed a spontaneous demonstration against an anti-Islam movie -- a claim that was later recanted by the Obama administration.

McCain said this new revelation from the DNI does not match up with what he and other lawmakers heard from intelligence officials during Senate hearings investigating the consulate attack.

The Arizona Republican said on Tuesday that during those hearings, when witnesses were asked who removed the references to al Qaeda, "all of them -- including the Director of National Intelligence himself -- told us that they did not know who made the changes.  Now we have to read the answers to our questions in the media."

McCain went on to say that "this latest episode is another reason why many of us are so frustrated with, and suspicious of, the actions of this administration when it comes to the Benghazi attack."

Rice could be the first casualty from the fallout since McCain and other Republicans have vowed to block her confirmation if President Obama nominates her to succeed outgoing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Nov202012

House Republicans Write Obama Letter Opposing Susan Rice Nomination

TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Although they have no say in her possible confirmation proceedings, 97 House Republicans have spoken out loud and clear about their opposition to President Obama nominating United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice as the next secretary of state.

Rice has come under attack by the GOP and some Democrats for initially stating that the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, on Sept. 11 was the result of a spontaneous demonstration over an anti-Islam movie.

The Republican lawmakers, in a letter to the White House Monday, alleged that Rice, who was working off talking points from the CIA, "either willfully or incompetently misled the American public in the Benghazi affair."

It was eight days after Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans were killed that "the American people learn(ed)...that the intelligence services quickly considered the attack an act of terrorism and that al Qaeda may have played a role," according to the letter.

In spite of Obama and Sen. Dianne Feinstein, chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, defending Rice, the House Republicans claimed she "caused irreparable damage to her credibility both at home and around the world...we strongly oppose any efforts to nominate Ambassador Susan Rice for the position of Secretary of State" to replace outgoing envoy Hillary Clinton.

Obama hasn't made an announcement yet as to his pick for secretary of state, which will come down to the Senate affirming his selection.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Nov192012

McCain Wants Susan Rice to Admit to Being Wrong About Benghazi

Mark Wilson/Getty Images(WASHINGTON0 -- Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., would like for Susan Rice to admit that she gave out “wrong information” days after the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, on Sept. 11, that killed four Americans.

“Maybe she could start out by publicly coming back on this show and saying, I was wrong, I gave the wrong information on your show some several weeks ago,” said McCain on CBS’ Face the Nation.

Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, is seen by many as the favorite to replace Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State but faces stiff opposition from several Republican senators, and McCain has been perhaps the most vocal of them.

Critics of the White House response say that the administration was too quick to dismiss the attacks as a reaction to a video insulting to the Prophet Mohammed, when in fact the attacks were later confirmed to be the result of a terror plot.

Democratic senators defending Rice point out that she received talking points that were signed off by all members of the Intelligence Committee that did not make any reference to terrorism at all.

“But it wasn’t her fault,” said Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., who defended Rice Sunday on Face the Nation.  “And to say that she has to be held accountable because an intelligence agency didn’t tell the whole story initially for reasons of national security is totally unfair.”

Attacks on Rice’s performance earlier last week prompted President Obama to lash out and tell her critics to attack him instead.

McCain on Sunday said he did not want the president mad at him, but just wanted to find out what happened in the attack.

“I wish the president wouldn’t get mad at me,” he said.  “I wish he would spend our time together in finding out what happened, what caused it, and what we need -- four brave Americans died.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Nov162012

Content of CIA Talking Points About Benghazi Confirmed

US Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice (TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)(WASHINGTON) -- The  CIA’s unclassified Benghazi talking points were a major focus of former CIA Director David Petraeus’ closed testimony on Capitol Hill on Friday.

Those talking points have become a bone of contention because U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice used them to prepare for her network television interviews five days after the attack.  Rice has been criticized by Republicans for having said at the time that the attack in Benghazi was a spontaneous protest in response to an anti-Muslim video filmed in the United States.

The political sparring over those comments have centered on what was in the talking points provided to the House Intelligence Committee (which Rice had as well) in the days after the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi.

The Washington Post quoted the talking points in a column published on Oct. 19, but it was not until Friday that a U.S. government official went on the record to confirm their accuracy.

On Friday, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, read the talking points to reporters staking out Petraeus’ appearance before her committee.

Here are the talking points:

The currently available information suggests that the demonstrations in Benghazi were spontaneously inspired by the protests at the United States Embassy in Cairo and evolved into a direct assault against United States diplomatic posts in Benghazi and subsequently its annex. There are indications that extremists participated in the violent demonstrations. This assessment may change as additional information is collected and analyzed and as currently available information continues to be evaluated. The investigation is ongoing, and the United States government is working with Libyan authorities to bring justice to those responsible for the death of United States citizens.

A senior U.S. official familiar with the drafting of the talking points provided some insights Friday into how they came about.  According to the official, the talking points drafted by the CIA  were “a reflection of the understanding at the time that could be provided at an unclassified level.  They were preliminary and were never meant to be the final word on the issue.”

The official said that they were coordinated at a senior level within the intelligence community and “were not, as has been insinuated by some, edited to minimize the role of extremists, diminish terrorist affiliations, or play down that this was an attack.”

Because the talking points were to be unclassified, the official said intelligence and legal issues had to be considered.   For one, the official said the information about the attack involving individuals linked to al Qaeda came from classified sources. Secondly, the official said those links were “so tenuous, as they still are, it makes sense to be cautious before pointing fingers to avoid setting off a chain of circular and self-reinforcing assumptions.”

The talking points used the term “extremists” to describe those behind the Benghazi attack.  The subsequent political fight over whether the attack should have been described as a terrorist attack seems to have caught intelligence officials off-guard. "People assumed that it was apparent in this context that extremists who attack U.S. facilities and kill Americans are, by definition, terrorists,” said the official.

“The controversy this word choice caused came as a surprise,” said the official.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Sunday
Sep162012

Ambassador Susan Rice: Libya Attack Not Premeditated

ABC News (NEW YORK) -- U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice said the attack on the American consulate in Benghazi was not premeditated, directly contradicting top Libyan officials who say the attack was planned in advance.

“Our current best assessment, based on the information that we have at present, is that, in fact, what this began as, it was a spontaneous – not a premeditated – response to what had transpired in Cairo,” Rice said Sunday morning on This Week.

“In Cairo, as you know, a few hours earlier, there was a violent protest that was undertaken in reaction to this very offensive video that was disseminated,” Rice said, referring to protests in Egypt Tuesday over a film that depicts the Prophet Muhammad as a fraud. Protesters in Cairo breached the walls of the U.S. American Embassy, tearing apart an American flag.

“We believe that folks in Benghazi, a small number of people came to the embassy to – or to the consulate, rather, to replicate the sort of challenge that was posed in Cairo,” Rice said. “And then as that unfolded, it seems to have been hijacked, let us say, by some individual clusters of extremists who came with heavier weapons… And it then evolved from there.”

Ambassador Christopher Stevens, along with three other Americans, were killed in Libya following the assault on the American consulate in Benghazi, on the 11th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks.  Rice said the FBI is examining the attack, saying their investigation “will tell us with certainty what transpired.”

Rice’s account directly contradicts that of Libyan President Mohamed Yousef El-Magariaf, who said this weekend that he had “no doubt” the attack was pre-planned by individuals from outside Libya.

“It was planned, definitely, it was planned by foreigners, by people who entered the country a few months ago, and they were planning this criminal act since their arrival,” he told CBS News.

Rice said there were no Marines present to protect the consulate in Libya, saying the U.S. presence there is “relatively new” since the revolution that overthrew former dictator Moammar Gadhafi.

“There are not Marines in every facility. That depends on the circumstances. That depends on the requirements,” Rice said. “Our presence in Tripoli, as in Benghazi, is relatively new, as you will recall. We’ve been back post-revolution only for a matter of months.”

But Rice said there was a “substantial security presence” at the consulate in Benghazi, noting that two of the four Americans killed there were providing security.

“We certainly are aware that Libya is a place where there have been increasingly some violent incidents,” Rice said. “The security personnel that the State Department thought were required were in place… It obviously didn’t prove sufficient to the nature of the attack and sufficient in that moment.”

“But the president has been very clear. The protection of American personnel and facilities is and will remain our top priority,” Rice added. “That’s why we’ve reinforced our presence in Tripoli and elsewhere.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Mar292011

Former President Bill Clinton Praises Obama on Libya

Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Speaking at the dedication of a new building for the U.S. delegation to the United Nations, named for the late Commerce Secretary Ron Brown, former President Clinton praised President Obama’s efforts in Libya.

“He would be very proud that Barack Obama became president of the United States, and very proud, Mr. President, of what you're doing in Libya with the international community," Bill Clinton said. "He would be very proud of you for wanting to share the responsibilities and the credit.”

The building is named after Commerce Secretary Ron Brown, who died tragically in a plane crash near Dubrovnik, Croatia, on April 3, 1996.  President Obama said he did not know or work with Brown personally but drew on lessons of his life as an example of American leadership, which he related back to the situation in Libya.

Obama said, “There are times, as when President Clinton showed extraordinary leadership in the Balkans, and moments, such as now, in the situation in Libya, where our conscience and our common interests compel us to act. We believe that force should not be the first option. We understand the costs and risks involved in the use of force. So whenever possible, we turn to alternatives that might change behavior: condemnation that puts violators on notice; sanctions that increase pressure; embargoes that block arms to aggressors; and accountability for those who commit crimes.”

The president said that if those efforts “prove insufficient” they have to be “prepared to take the necessary measures to uphold international peace and security and protect innocent people."

President Obama said that Brown, the first African-American Commerce Secretary, paved the way, in part, for him to become president.

"While I didn't know Ron Brown personally, I knew his story, and I drew inspiration from that story. And so when you say he'd be proud that I'm president, I think it's fair to say that I'm president in part because of him -- because of the example he set; because of the organization that he brought to the Democratic Party; because his capacity to get Bill Clinton elected, which, in turn, I think, showed how we could govern in a way that met the realities of the late 20th century and ultimately the 21st century."

The president joked that as the final speaker -- following Ambassador Susan Rice and former President Bill Clinton, who both knew Brown personally, he was thinking, “everything has been said, and, once again, Bill Clinton has said it better than I could.”

Obama then presented an American flag and plaque to representatives of the Brown family.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio