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Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., speaking to reporters after their meeting with U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice. (Getty Images)

GOP Senators More Troubled About Benghazi After Talking With Amb. Rice

Nov 27, 2012

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Reported by

Mark Memmott

After meeting with U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice this morning, three key Republican senators emerged to say they're more troubled — not less — by what they say were intelligence failures and misleading information concerning the September attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya, which left four Americans dead.

One, Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, said it's too soon to even be speculating about promoting Rice to be secretary of state.

Congress needs to see "FBI interviews of survivors ... and what was said the night of the attack" about who might be responsible, Graham said, before considering the promotion of anyone who was involved in handling the intelligence before or after the Benghazi attack.

Graham was joined by senators John McCain of Arizona and Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire. She said she's "more troubled, not less," after talking with Rice and top U.S. intelligence officials about the attacks.

Though President Obama has not yet nominated anyone to succeed Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton (who plans to soon leave), McCain, Graham and some other Republicans have already been saying they have doubts about whether Rice should get that job. They say she misled the nation by saying that the attacks may have begun as protests over a anti-Muslim video produced in California. The Obama administration and Rice's supporters say she was relying on guidance from intelligence agencies and that she did note that extremists may have been involved in the attacks.

She'll be meeting with other lawmakers. As The Associated Press writes, "Rice's series of meetings on Capitol Hill this week will therefore be a critical test both for Republicans, who will decide whether they can support her, and the administration, which must gauge whether Rice has enough support to merit a nomination."

Update at 12:45 p.m. Statements Not 'Intended To Mislead':

Abassador Susan Rice says during her meeting with the lawmakers, she stressed that while her statements were inaccurate they were not intended to mislead.

Here's the key part of the statement just released by the U.S. Mission to the United Nations:

"In the course of the meeting, we explained that the talking points provided by the intelligence community, and the initial assessment upon which they were based, were incorrect in a key respect: there was no protest or demonstration in Benghazi. While we certainly wish that we had had perfect information just days after the terrorist attack, as is often the case, the intelligence assessment has evolved. We stressed that neither I nor anyone else in the Administration intended to mislead the American people at any stage in this process, and the Administration updated Congress and the American people as our assessments evolved."

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