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Rice’s entire record should be considered before nomination

Published: Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Updated: Tuesday, November 20, 2012 07:11

On Monday, 97 out of 241 House Republicans sent a letter to President Barack Obama stating their opposition to nominating U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice as Secretary of State.

Rice is a contender to replace Hillary Clinton for the job, but Republicans have been vehemently expressing their disagreement with her potential nomination, stating in the letter to Obama that she
“willfully or incompetently misled the American public in the Benghazi affair.” But that is not all there is to Rice.

Rice appeared on several Sunday TV news shows five days after the attack and described the Sept. 11 attack in Benghazi, Libya, in which U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans died as a spontaneous reaction to a video criticizing Islam, rather than a terrorist attack, which is it now recognized to have been.

“Susan Rice should have known better, and if she didn’t know better, she’s not qualified,” Ariz. Sen. John McCain said on Fox News on Wednesday. “I will do everything in my power to block her from being the United States Secretary of State.”

On Friday, former CIA Director Gen. David Petraeus testified that the incident in Benghazi was a terrorist attack, and that a reference to al-Qaida was dropped from the memo sent to Rice during its journey through several federal agencies.

According to Bloomberg, Democrats said the memo was changed to omit classified information.

The Republicans are too harsh on Rice when basing their sole criticism on the Benghazi issue.

Somewhere along the line, the memo was edited. From Rice’s point of view, the memo was from the CIA — an organization whose talking points she should not override on Sunday talk shows.

In a press conference Friday, Obama stood up for Rice’s testimony, saying, “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 besmirch her reputation is outrageous.”

Rice has a decent reputation as a career diplomat — having passed important tough sanctions on Iran and North Korea — despite some criticism for missing important meetings and being “sharp-tongued” and “blustery,” according to the New York Times, and senators should be referencing her entire career when disavowing her potential cabinet nomination.

But Obama hasn’t made the nomination yet, and preemptive criticism of Rice over this one point is unwarranted. Congressional testimonies of the Benghazi attack are still ongoing; Clinton has yet to testify, and there are calls for Rice’s testimony.

Until this review is finished, Rice should not be used as the scapegoat in the Benghazi affair, and Republican legislators need to cut the harsh talk and focus on other important issues. And if they shall criticize Rice, let it be for her record as a whole, rather than TV comments from a CIA-issued statement.

 

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