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Ambassador Rice, Designated Non-Expert on Benghazi

Even more incredibly, President Obama in his press conference went on to say that it is "outrageous" to criticize Rice -- "the U.N. ambassador who had nothing to do with Benghazi."

Correct, as far as it goes, that Rice apparently had nothing to do with the Sept. 11 horrors as they played out that day and night in Benghazi and in Washington (where the president's doings for most of that interval remain to this day unexplained and undocumented). While Rice had plenty to do with obtaining the consent last year of the Arab League at the UN for the U.S. to lead from behind in the ousting of Moammar Qaddafi, the U.S. dealings on the ground in Benghazi, 2012, were not her responsibility. She was not in the relevant chain of command. It was not her turf.

So, why on earth, on Sunday, Sept. 17, with the spotlight on Benghazi, did Obama's White House dispatch Rice -- "the U.N. ambassador who had nothing to do with Benghazi" -- as its TV diva of information on the Benghazi attack?

Obama, in his effusive defense of Rice, during his Wednesday press conference, denounced Rice's critics as beating up unfairly on his UN ambassador: "When they go after the UN ambassador, apparently because they think she's an easy target, then they've got a problem with me," said the president. That all sounds very aggrieved and gallant. But it is, in its way, as misleading as Rice's own statements on the TV talk shows. There's every reason to infer that in the weird hall of mirrors with which the administration has shielded itself over the Benghazi attack, Rice's role has been to serve not as an easy target, but as an extraneous target -- a briefly anointed expert, whose misleading statements are now excused by the president on grounds that she was no expert at all. That's an odd way for the White House to treat the American public on matters vital to national security. Where were the officials who did bear responsibility for Benghazi 2012? In this much, at least, the president's rhetorical posturing in defense of Rice does include one point that needs to be taken seriously: The real questions should go to him. Why, out of all the officials in his administration, did he dispatch at that critical moment an ambassador who had nothing to do with Benghazi? What was that meant to achieve?

See also: "The Departure of Hillary"