WASHINGTON - America’s U.N. ambassador has defended comments she made in the days following the September terrorist attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya,
Five days after the Benghazi attack that killed U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans, Susan Rice appeared on multiple domestic television programs. Rice said initial intelligence assessments pointed to a spontaneous demonstration that attracted heavily-armed militants.
The Obama administration has since conceded that the assault was, in fact, a terrorist attack.
Speaking at the United Nations late Wednesday, Rice addressed lingering questions about her assertions in September.
“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. "Everyone, particularly the intelligence community, has worked in good faith to provide the best assessment based on the information available.”
Last week, several Republican lawmakers, including Senator John McCain, blasted Rice’s initial Benghazi comments as proof of deception or incompetence. To this day, some Republicans and conservative commentators allege the administration downplayed the true nature of the Benghazi incident to protect President Obama from political fallout during his reelection bid.
Ambassador Rice responded directly to Senator McCain.
“I have great respect for Senator McCain and his service to our country," she said. "I always have, and I always will. 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 is thought to be a possible candidate to replace Hillary Clinton as secretary of state during President Obama’s second term. If nominated, she would have to be confirmed by the Senate to assume the post.