Why Did the Administration Pick Rice as its Benghazi Spokesperson?
One of the strongest critics of UN Ambassador Susan Rice said the inquiry into the Benghazi attack also should include asking why she was put out on the Sunday news shows as the administration spokeswoman on the tragedy.
"The fact is, she came out speaking for the White House, even though the president, incredibly, said she had nothing to do with Benghazi," Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) said on Fox last night. "So the question is, is what in the world was she doing out there speaking about Benghazi? But she spoke to the American people on behalf of the president of the United States. That's very different from voicing an opinion on a talk show."
Criticizing McCain and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) during his press conference last week, Obama said, "For them to go after the U.N. ambassador, who had nothing to do with Benghazi and was simply making a presentation based on intelligence that she had received and to besmirch her reputation is outrageous."
McCain stressed, though, that as someone with access to classified information, Rice should have known better than to go on air blaming protest furor over an anti-Muhammad video.
"She was speaking from the White House. She had access to classified information. So again, she should have known better because we now know that there was information from classified sources which clearly indicated that this was a al Qaeda-affiliated attack, as well," he said. "And by the way, that's still hard to understand, why you would keep information from the American people which would give you an entirely different depiction of what happened because it's, quote, 'classified sources.'"
But another Republican senator who sits on the Foreign Relations Committee, Johnny Isakson (Ga.), cautioned against putting full blame on Rice.
"You don't shoot the messenger and feel the self satisfaction that you solve the problem. If we find out she read what she was told to read, had no other information to the contrary, we need to get at the root of the problem," Isakson said on CNN.
"But until this is worked out, until we know the facts, we don't need to have a nomination coming before the Foreign Relations Committee."
Isakson added that he's been around long enough to know "when you're asked to go on the top five news shows on Sunday morning and you're giving talking points, you don't question them, you read them."
"If Ambassador Rice is going to be nominated to be secretary of state, that's an incredibly important position," Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) said on Fox this morning. "And we need someone who's going to do more than just repeat talking points. We need someone who is going to ask serious questions, show a level of independence."
"And I don't understand why she went on every major news network and didn't ask -- if she had nothing to do with Benghazi, which we know is the case, why aren't you sending the secretary of state on there? Why not the secretary of defense? Why not the director of the CIA? So, this is very important that we get to the bottom of this," she added.