McCain, Ayotte &
Dissatisfied after Meeting on Benghazi Attack
November 28, 2012
Republican senators say they remain deeply troubled by the Obama
administration’s initial accounts of the September attack on the U.S.
consulate in Benghazi, Libya. The senators spoke after meeting with
America’s U.N. ambassador, Susan Rice, who has come under fire for
statements she made days after the assault that killed four Americans.
If Susan Rice hoped a face-to-face meeting with three of her sharpest
critics on Capitol Hill would lay to rest Republican ire over the
Benghazi incident, those hopes have been dashed.
“I am more disturbed now than I was before.” said Senator Lindsey
He said the meeting with Ambassador Rice provoked more questions than
answers. Fellow-Republican Senator John McCain agreed.
“It is clear that the information she gave the American people was
incorrect,” said McCain.
Five days after the Benghazi attack, Rice asserted initial intelligence
assessments pointed to a spontaneous demonstration that attracted
heavily-armed militants. The Obama administration has since conceded the
assault was a terrorist attack.
“She said that it was a spontaneous demonstration triggered by a hateful
video," said McCain. "It was not.”
Senator Graham was even more emphatic.
“It was a statement disconnected from reality," he said. "If anybody had
been looking at the threats coming out of Benghazi, Libya, it was
‘jump-out-at-you’ [obvious] that this was an al-Qaida storm in the
Ambassador Rice did not appear with the senators following the
meeting, but did issue a statement following the discussions saying
initial information she had received about protests and demonstrations
in Benghazi had been incorrect and that the initial assessments of what
happened in Benghazi had evolved. In her only public remarks on that
matter last week, Ambassador Rice said the Obama administration had
acted in good faith based on the information it had to work with at the
time of the incident.
“When discussing the attacks against our facilities in Benghazi, I
relied solely and squarely on the information provided to me by the
intelligence community," said Rice. "I made clear that the information
was preliminary and that our investigations would give us the definitive
answers. Everyone, particularly the intelligence community, has worked
in good faith to provide the best assessment based on the information
this month, Republican Senator Kelly Ayotte joined Senators McCain and
Graham in calling for a special legislative committee to probe the
Benghazi incident. Senator Ayotte had this to say after the meeting with
“Clearly the impression that was given, the information given to the
American people, was wrong," said Ayotte. "In fact, Ambassador Rice said
today [that] absolutely it was wrong.”
Rice is thought to be a possible candidate to replace Hillary Clinton as
secretary of state during President Obama’s second term. When asked by
reporters, none of the three Republican senators would say if they would
vote to confirm her, should she be nominated to the post.