National Security Advisor Susan Rice said Sunday that she doesn’t regret blaming the September 2012 attack a U.S. facility in Benghazi, Libya, on a spontaneous protest against an anti-Islamic video when she first spoke publicly about the attack.
That description has since been undermined by evidence that the incident was not spontaneous, but the result of a concerted terrorist effort.
Republicans have spent over a year accusing the administration of orchestrating a cover-up to minimize the political fallout, but Rice has insisted she was simply voicing the best intelligence assessment available at the time.
“The information I provided, which I explained to you, was what we had at the moment. It could change. I commented that this was based on what we knew on that morning, was provided to me and my colleagues, and indeed, to Congress, by the intelligence community,” she said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “And that information turned out, in some respects, not to be 100 percent correct. But the notion that somehow I or anybody else in the administration misled the American people is patently false. And I think that that’s been amply demonstrated.”
Asked about Rice’s comments Sunday on CBS’ “Face the Nation,” Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., one of the administration’s most persistent critics on the issue, said they left him “almost speechless.”
“She read talking points that we are now beginning to believe came from the White House, which were absolutely false,” McCain explained. “We now know that the director, that the C.I.A. station chief on the ground sent a message immediately saying, ‘Not spontaneous demonstration.’ And of course, the information was totally misleading, totally false. And for Susan Rice to say such a thing, I think it’s a little embarrassing, to tell you the truth.”
In her appearance on NBC, Rice also said the U.S. is making headway on finding those responsible for the attack.
“The investigation is ongoing, and it has indeed made progress,” she said. “But the point is we will get the perpetrators. And we will stay on it until this gets done.”