Na­tional se­cu­rity ad­viser job pos­si­ble

Rice

Austin American-Statesman - - THE SECOND FRONT - A

un­fair and mis­lead­ing at­tacks on Su­san Rice in re­cent weeks, her de­ci­sion demon­strates the strength of her char­ac­ter,” he said.

“I am sad­dened we have reached this point,” Rice said.

Obama made clear she would re­main in his in­ner cir­cle, say­ing he was grate­ful she would stay as “our am­bas­sador at the United Na­tions and a key mem­ber of my Cab­i­net and na­tional se­cu­rity team.” Rice, too, said in her let­ter she would be stay­ing.

Rice had be­come the face of the ad­min­is­tra­tion’s strug­gles to ex­plain what hap­pened in Beng­hazi, Libya, on Sept. 11, 2012, when four Amer­i­cans, in­clud­ing the U.S. am­bas­sador to Libya, were killed in what is now known to have been a ter­ror­ist at­tack on the U.S. Con­sulate.

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. In­for­ma­tion for her ac­count was pro­vided by in­tel­li­gence of­fi­cials.

In a let­ter to Obama, Rice said she was con­vinced the conf­fir­ma­tion process would be “lengthy, dis­rup­tive and costly.” The let­ter was part of a me­dia roll­out aimed at boost­ing her rep­u­ta­tion. It in­cluded an NBC News in­ter­view in which she said her with­drawal “was the best thing for our coun­try.”

Rice may end up as Obama’s na­tional se­cu­rity ad­viser should Tom Donilon move on to an­other po­si­tion, though that is not ex­pected soon. The se­cu­rity ad­viser po­si­tion would not re­quire Se­nate conf­fir­ma­tion.

Rice would have faced strong op­po­si­tion from Se­nate Repub­li­cans who chal­lenged her com- ments about the Beng­hazi at­tack.

Her ef­forts to sat­isfy Sens. John McCain, Lind­sey Gra­ham, Kelly Ay­otte and Su­san Collins in pri­vate ses­sions on Capi­tol Hill fell short. The Repub­li­cans emerged from the meet­ings still ex­press­ing doubts about her qualif­fi­ca­tions.

“The po­si­tion of sec­re­tary of state should never be politi­cized,” Rice said. “As some­one who grew up in an era of com­par­a­tive bi­par­ti­san­ship and as a sit­ting U.S na­tional se­cu­rity of­fi­cial who has served in two U.S. ad­min­is­tra­tions, I am sad­dened that we have reached this point.”

In a brief state­ment, a spokesman for McCain said the se­na­tor “thanks Am­bas­sador Rice for her ser­vice to the coun­try and wishes her well. He will con­tinue to seek all the facts sur­round­ing the at­tack on our con­sulate in Beng­hazi.”

At­ten­tion now shifts to Kerry, who came close to win­ning the pres­i­dency in 2004 and has been seen as de­sir­ing the State job. In a state­ment, he made no men­tion of his own can­di­dacy but praised Rice, who was an ad­viser to him in his pres­i­den­tial bid.

Kerry was an early backer of Obama and was un­der con­sid­er­a­tion to be­come his ffirst sec­re­tary of state. Obama has dis­patched Kerry to for­eign hot spots on his be­half. Kerry played the role of Repub­li­can Mitt Rom­ney dur­ing Obama’s pres­i­den­tial de­bate prepa­ra­tions this year.

The long­time se­na­tor would be al­most cer­tain to be eas­ily conf­firmed by his col­leagues on Capi­tol Hill.

If Obama taps Kerry for State, the pres­i­dent will cre­ate a po­ten­tial prob­lem for Democrats by open­ing a Se­nate seat — one that re­cently de­feated Repub­li­can Sen. Scott Brown is eye­ing. Brown had been elected as Mas­sachusetts’ other se­na­tor in Jan­uary 2010 af­ter Demo­crat Ted Kennedy died, stun­ning the po­lit­i­cal world as he took the seat held by Kennedy for decades. Brown lost that seat in the Novem­ber elec­tion.

Rice’s de­ci­sion comes ahead of the an­tic­i­pated re­lease next week of a report by a panel into the at­tack on the Beng­hazi mis­sion. The report or­dered by Clin­ton, fo­cuses on the run-up to and the ac­tual at­tack and is not ex­pected to men­tion Rice’s role in its af­ter­math.

Clin­ton is to tes­tify about the report be­fore Congress next Thurs­day.

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