Entries in Susan Rice (9)


Sec. Clinton Says No ‘Actionable Intelligence’ on Benghazi Attack

State Dept(WASHINGTON) -- Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told reporters Tuesday the intelligence surrounding the U.S. consulate in Benghazi did not indicate that the consulate was under a specific threat before it was attacked last week.

“With all of our missions overseas in advance of Sept. 11, as is done every year, we did an evaluation of threat streams,” said Clinton. "The office of the director of National Intelligence has said we have no actionable intelligence that an attack on our post in Benghazi was planned or imminent.”

Clinton’s comments echo what United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice said on ABC’s This Week, where she said all indications were that extremists “hijacked” a “spontaneous” protest.

The secretary said that the attacks are the work of extremists taking advantage of the widespread outrage over the anti-Muslim video being widely circulated on the Internet.

“There are extremists in all of these this societies and on the outside who are working to take advantage of broad outrage in order to incite violence and specifically incite violence against Americans and American facilities,” she said.

Since the attack, which lasted nearly five hours and resulted in the deaths of four diplomats, including the U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens, questions have emerged about the security for both the consulate and the ambassador.  Clinton gave further details about the measures taken, including a “robust” security presence inside the compound, which was surrounded by a wall.

“Let me assure our security in Benghazi included a unit of host government forces, as well as a local guard force of the kind that we rely on in many places around the world,” Clinton told reporters.   

Last Friday, State Department Spokesperson Victoria Nuland emphatically told reporters that none of the security provided at the Benghazi consulate were provided by a private security firm.

“All of the security in Libya has been done by Libyans, by American government personnel, and then to a very limited extent these individual contracts with individual security personnel, but there was never a contract with a company, and there was never a plan to have a contract with a company,” she said.

But Tuesday, Nuland corrected her original statement, telling reporters that in fact the State Department did hire a private security company, a British firm called the Blue Mountain Group, which Nuland said has a permit to operate within Libya to hire local security guards.

“They were hired to provide local Libyan guards who operated inside the gate doing things like operating the security access equipment, screening the cars, that kind of thing,” said Nuland.

Blue Mountain says on its website that it provides both security and training and has recently operated in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan and other dangerous places for clients ranging from Google to Cadburys.

Wired reported that the company signed a six-figure contract with the State Department to protect the consulate four months ago. Nuland said that the company remains on contract, “pending a full assessment of the security situation.”

Clinton didn’t speak specifically to where the guards protecting the consulate in Benghazi were from but did say the State Department is now taking aggressive steps to protect its employees, consulates and embassies around the world, and is reviewing security at every post.

Clinton also confirmed that the FBI is now in Libya, working with local officials on the investigation and stressed that there will be justice for the four murdered diplomats.

“We will not rest until the people who orchestrated this attack are found and punished,” the secretary said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


US Ambassador to UN Claims Iran Playing 'Nefarious' Role in Syria

TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The Obama administration stated bluntly on Thursday that Iran is responsible for much of the violence now occurring in Syria.

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice argued that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Iran and the Lebanese Hezbollah were all destabilizing forces in the region.  The three allies consider themselves "an axis of resistance" determined to thwart outside forces that include the U.S., Israel and the rest of the West.

Rice said this so-called "axis" proves "there is no question that Iran is playing a nefarious role, not only in Syria but more broadly in the region, actively supporting the Assad regime."

At the same time, Iran was holding a summit of 29 countries in Tehran to discuss the 18-month-long conflict in Syria that has cost more than 20,000 lives by some estimates.

Taking the same stand as Russia and China, whose veto power stopped two U.N. resolutions about Syria dead in their tracks, Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi told the various diplomats that his nation opposes "any foreign interference and military intervention in resolving the Syrian crisis."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


US Envoy to United Nations Makes Surprise Visit to Libya

ABC News(TRIPOLI, Libya) -- United States Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice arrived in Tripoli on Monday in a surprise trip, just a month after she voted to end the U.N.’s mandate of the NATO mission that ousted Moammar Gadhafi. Her trip also comes about eight months since she played a pivotal role in convincing the U.N. Security Council to authorize the mission to protect civilians.

“It is good to be in Libya,” she tweeted shortly after arriving.

“I’ve come to witness progress & lend support to Libyan & #UN personnel,” she added.

Rice visited a warehouse that was converted into a prison and torture room, calling it “an atrocity committed by the Qadhafi regime as it was collapsing.”

“The stench of death & cruelty was pervasive,” she tweeted.

While there, Rice met with former prisoners and families of the missing and dead.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Amb. Susan Rice Defends UN Involvement, US Policies in Libya, Syria

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice argued for continued involvement with the world body and defended the American response to the recent bloodshed in Libya and Syria in an interview on The Colbert Report Monday night.

"The U.N. is the one place on the planet, despite its many flaws, where we can marshal the support and share the costs of doing what is necessary to protect the United States," Rice told host Stephen Colbert, the faux-right wing satirist on Comedy Central who challenged her to explain why the United Nations was necessary.

"We have others paying the bulk of the bills for important missions that otherwise we’d have to pay for ourselves or wouldn’t get done," she added.

Ambassador Rice's comments come as some Republicans have sought to cut off some funding for the United Nations.  The American contribution totals about $500 million, or nearly a quarter of the U.N.'s budget.  Last month, the House Foreign Affairs Committee approved amendments to next year's proposed budget that would slash funding for the U.N.'s peacekeeping operations and cut another 25 percent of its non-peacekeeping budget.

Rice was pressed as to why the United States supported military intervention in Libya when longtime leader Moammar Gadhafi threatened civilians there and not in Syria, where President Bashar Assad has killed thousands in a brutal assault on several restive cities.  She cited what the U.S. Ambassador in Damascus Robert Ford has reported back from his meetings with ordinary Syrians.

"What he hears every day and what they want from the United States is more leadership, political pressure, and sanctions, but very clearly no military intervention," she said.

During the interview, Rice referenced reports that Assad has used Navy gunships to attack the port city of Latakia, despite the fact that hours earlier the State Department spokesperson said there were some inconsistencies with the reports.

She said the NATO operation in Libya has been "highly effective" and has saved "tens of thousands" of lives from Gadhafi's forces.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


South Sudan: Amid Violence, a New Nation Is Born

ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP/Getty Images(KHARTOUM) -- The Republic of South Sudan is entering the world as its 193rd nation with an overjoyed population that views this moment of freedom as decades in the making.

Officials from all over the globe are taking part in the celebrations Saturday. Even the Vatican has sent a representative. The United States has also sent a high-profile delegation led by U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice and Colin Powell.

South Sudan has gained its independence just six years after ending a bloody civil war with the north that killed more than two million people.

The United States has been involved in the Sudanese peace process for many years. In 2005, George Bush sent Powell, then the U.S. secretary of state, to the region to broker a comprehensive peace agreement that would end the 20-year conflict and begin the road to independence for the south. In the years since, two U.S. administrations have worked to make sure the independence referendum was held without a hitch, appointing special envoys to the region and being intimately involved in the delicate negotiations that followed.

But after the party is over, real questions remain about just how viable this new country will be. Decades of war have left the region as one of the world's poorest. Roughly the size of Texas, South Sudan has less than 100 miles of paved roads, and basic infrastructure such as electricity and water are scarce. It also has an illiteracy rate of more than 70 percent and one of the highest infant mortality rates in Africa.

Since the referendum in January, the young nation has also been dealing with thousands of returnees from the north and abroad without the resources to support them.

For all the bleak indicators, the people of South Sudan, who voted almost unanimously for independence, remain hopeful. They say that even with all of the problems, freedom from Khartoum's repressive regime now gives South Sudan the chance to determine it's own destiny. A right it hasn't had for more than 50 years.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


US Delegation to Witness Birth of a New Country

STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- On Saturday, a new country will come into being when South Sudan gains its independence, six years after its bloody civil war with Sudan ended.
That doesn’t mean, however, that they’re in the clear. A number of contentious issues remain unresolved and renewed fighting along the border in recent months illustrates just how hard it has been to get here, and how hard it will be to keep the peace.
“This is a fragile and fraught moment as well.  It cannot and must not be taken for granted,” U.S. Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice told reporters Thursday. Rice is leading a bipartisan U.S. delegation to the independence celebration, which will include former Secretary of State Colin Powell. Rice will also preside over a ribbon cutting to turn the American consulate in Juba into a full embassy.
The 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement ended a bloody civil war that claimed, by some accounts, over two million lives during two decades of conflict. It called for referenda on South Sudan’s independence and on the status of Abyei, the oil-rich area on the border. Only the first one took place earlier this year, paving the way for the independence, but the Abyei vote was postponed. The complications surrounding Abyei were illustrated when Sudanese troops took control of the city earlier this year.
Also on the to-do list: the final borders of South Sudan, citizenship for its residents and how to divide the oil revenue. Rice urged both sides to decide the issues quickly.
“It’s critical that the parties cooperate on such key issues as oil and citizenship in order to avoid major economic shocks or social upheaval,” she said.
Recently, Sudanese military clashes with Southern Sudanese forces in the Southern Kordofan region have raised concerns that conflict could flare up again.
The United States has been very involved in the Sudanese peace process for many years. Colin Powell was there in 2005 when the CPA was signed and successive special envoys have worked to make sure the independence referendum was held without incident this year.
At the United Nations last October, President Obama urged both sides to stick to the path of peace.
This September, the U.S. will host a conference in Washington, D.C. to help develop private investment in South Sudan and ensure the country is ready for investment.
The United States has also held out a significant carrot to Khartoum: cooperate on the CPA and Sudan could be removed from the State Sponsor of Terrorism list, which carries its own sanctions designations.
Rice said Thursday that until all CPA issues are resolved Sudan will remain on the list.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Jay Carney: Assad Can 'Lead the Transition' or 'Get Out of the Way'

KARIM SAHIB/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- In Syria on Wednesday, thousands of elite troops converged on a northern area where the government has been losing control.

Eleven weeks of protests against President Bashar Assad's 40-year rule have led to a violent nationwide government crackdown and activists say more than 1,300 Syrians -- most civilians -- have died.

White House spokesman Jay Carney had a message for Syria's leader.

"President Assad now has a choice.  He can lead the transition, or he can get out of the way."

The U.N. Security Council is set to discuss a draft resolution condemning the Syrian government Thursday, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Supporting the resolution, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice said, according to WSJ, "We will be on the right side of history if and when this comes to a vote."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Ambassador Susan Rice on Libya: US Considering No-Fly Zone

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(NEW YORK) -- The U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. said Tuesday morning that the U.S. will "keep the pressure" on Col. Moammar Gadhafi, but the Obama Administration is not yet ready to outline how it's going to step up the military pressure on his regime.

"We are in discussions with our allies and NATO and elsewhere about planning for all sorts of military contingencies including a no-fly zone and should we decide that it is necessary to take the step we will proceed with the proper international steps that go with that including consultations at the United Nations," Susan Rice told ABC News.

Rice also said the administration is not prepared yet to cut all diplomatic ties with the Libyan regime and formally recognize the provisional government of the opposition.

"We have put in place a global arms embargo preventing [Gadhafi] from resupplying.  And so we will keep the pressure on.  With respect to the opposition we are in a dialogue with all aspects of Libyan society, civil society, leaders who oppose the regime," she said.  "But to be candid, there has not yet coalesced a clear cut unified opposition.  So it is premature at this stage to talk about recognizing or providing any material support to such an opposition."

Rice called the Libyan dictator "frankly, crazy" for his behavior, such as denying there were protests against him to ABC's Christiane Amanpour and laughing when asked if he would step down.

The crisis in Libya has also affected the price at the pump here in the U.S.  Gas rose 19 cents in one week -- the second highest jump in more than 20 years.

The ambassador suggested that the U.S. is working behind the scenes with Saudi Arabia and other oil producing states to keep the crude flowing and hold gas prices down.

"We obviously would like to see production at a level that keeps prices steady, and we are obviously working with our partners to ensure that that’s the case," Rice said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Hillary Clinton: Israeli Settlements 'Illegitimate'

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called Israeli settlements "illegitimate" shortly before the United States vetoed a United Nations Security Council resolution condemning continued Israeli settlement expansion as illegal.

In an exclusive ABC News interview with Christiane Amanpour on Friday, Clinton said, "I think it is absolutely clear to say, number one, that it's been American policy for many years that settlements were illegitimate and it is the continuing goal and highest priority of the Obama administration to keep working toward a two-state solution with both Israelis and Palestinians."

The U.N. resolution failed as a result of the United States' veto. The Security Council vote was 14 countries in favor of the resolution and one country, the United States, opposed. Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, said that the resolution risked harming the peace process.

"It is the Israelis' and Palestinians' conflict, and even the best-intentioned outsiders cannot resolve it for them," Rice said after the vote at U.N. headquarters in New York City. "Therefore, every potential action must be measured against one overriding standard: Will it move the parties closer to negotiations and an agreement?

"Unfortunately," she added, "this draft resolution risks hardening the positions of both sides. It could encourage the parties to stay out of negotiations and, if and when they did resume, to return to the Security Council whenever they reach an impasse."

In December 2010, Clinton took a similarly harsh line against continued Israeli settlements.

"We do not accept the legitimacy of continued settlement activity," she said in a speech at the Brookings Institution. "We believe their continued expansion is corrosive not only to peace efforts and two-state solution, but to Israel's future itself."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio 

ABC News Radio