Susan Rice Has No Regrets On Benghazi Remarks

The National Security Adviser defends her controversial remarks after 2012 attacks

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Susan Rice in 2013.

National Security Adviser Susan Rice said Sunday she had no regrets about statements she made in 2012 on the attacks at the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya, saying her talking points were reflective of what she knew at the time and were not intended to mislead the American public.

Appearing on NBC’s Meet the Press, the former ambassador to the United Nations defended her remarks on ABC, Fox, CNN, NBC and CBS in 2012 shortly after the attacks, when she called the Benghazi attacks “spontaneous” and not pre-planned. The interviews set off a firestorm, with Republican lawmakers accusing Rice and the White House of deliberately downplaying the attacks ahead of the presidential election that year.

“[W]hat I said to you that morning, and what I did every day since, was to share the best information that we had at the time,” Rice told host David Gregory. “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.  And that’s been well validated in many different ways since.”

In 2012, Rice—then ambassador to the U.N.—called the Benghazi attacks that killed U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans a spontaneous reaction by a crowd of Libyan protestors to an offensive video denigrating Islam. The administration later acknowledged the attack was likely pre-planned, and a separate Senate investigation found the attacks in Benghazi were likely preventable.

Rice conceded some of her statements may not have been correct, but insisted she did not mislead the public and was speaking based on information she had at the time. A recent New York Times investigation has supported the view that widespread fury in Libya over the video was a partial cause for the attacks.

“That information turned out, in some respects, not to be 100 percent correct,” she acknowledged. “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.”