Par­ti­san split over Rice widens

U.N. am­bas­sador still at­tacked by GOP, de­fended by Democrats.

Austin American-Statesman - - THE SECOND FRONT - By Matthew Lee

WASHINGTON — The par­ti­san po­lit­i­cal di­vide over the po­ten­tial nom­i­na­tion of U.N. Am­bas­sador Su­san Rice to be sec­re­tary of state in­ten­si­fied Sun­day with Repub­li­cans ques­tion­ing her fit­ness for the job and Democrats de­fend­ing her.

Repub­li­can sen­a­tors said they re­main deeply con­cerned over Rice’s state­ments about the Sept. 11 at­tack on the U.S. diplo­matic post in Beng­hazi, Libya, and sug­gested her mo­tive was to help Pres­i­dent Barack Obama’s re­elec­tion chances. Democrats, mean­while, said they saw no rea­son the state­ments should dis­qual­ify her if she’s nom­i­nated.

At is­sue is the ex­pla­na­tion Rice of­fered in a se­ries of talk show ap­pear­ances five days af­ter the at­tack that killed U.S. Am­bas­sador Chris Stevens and three other Amer­i­cans.

Rice has con­ceded in pri­vate meet­ings with law­mak­ers that her ini­tial ac­count — that a spon­ta­neous demon­stra­tion over an an­tiMus­lim video pro­duced in the U.S. trig­gered the at­tack — was wrong, but she has in­sisted she was not try­ing to mis­lead the Amer­i­can peo­ple. That ac­count was pro­vided by in­tel­li­gence of­fi­cials who have since said their un­der­stand­ing of the at­tack evolved as more in­for­ma­tion came to light.

Ap­pear­ing on Sun­day talk shows, two of Rice’s fiercest crit­ics, Sens. Kelly Ay­otte, R-N.H., and Lind­sey Gra­ham, R-S.C., said Rice’s ac­count went be­yond talk­ing points that the in­tel­li­gence agen­cies gave her. For one, they noted she had said that se­cu­rity at the Beng­hazi mis­sion was “strong, sub­stan­tial and sig­nif­i­cant.”

That state­ment “was not sup­ported by the talk­ing points,” Ay­otte said, not­ing that Rice was privy to more than just the un­clas­si­fied ma­te­rial she dis­cussed on tele­vi­sion, in­clud­ing se­cret in­tel­li­gence brief­ings that pointed to al-Qaida involvement in the at­tack.

“I think her story on 16th of Septem­ber was a po­lit­i­cal story de­signed to help the pres­i­dent three weeks be­fore the elec­tion, and she should be held ac­count­able for that,” Gra­ham said. He added that Rice’s com­ments were “a trea­sure trove of mis­lead­ing state­ments that have the ef­fect of help­ing the pres­i­dent.”

Democrats, though, said Rice is be­ing un­fairly vic­tim­ized for re­peat­ing er­ro­neous talk­ing points cir­cu­lated by the in­tel­li­gence com­mu­nity.

“Noth­ing that I have heard, in my mind, would dis­qual­ify her,” said Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va.

Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., said what’s hap­pen­ing to Rice is “ter­ri­bly un­fair” and a brighter light should be shone on the role of former CIA chief David Pe­traeus and his agency.

“The talk­ing points came from the in­tel­li­gence com­mu­nity, yet you don’t hear one crit­i­cism of David Pe­traeus. It was his shop that pro­duced the talk­ing points that Su­san Rice talked about. … Is there a dou­ble stan­dard here? It ap­pears to most of us that there is. A very un­fair one,” she said.

“It is ter­ri­bly un­fair that she should be the scape­goat for this when really the fail­ures ought to be at the lap of the head of the in­tel­li­gence com­mu­nity that pro­duced th­ese talk­ing points.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.