Of Rice and Men

Writing of Obama’s post-election press conference this week, Paul Mirengoff noted that Obama became testy when asked about threats by Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham to oppose United States Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice if she is nominated to be Secretary of State. Obama advised Senate Republicans that if they want to “go after somebody, they should go after me.” He added, with disgust, that Rice is merely the U.N. ambassador and, as such, had nothing to do with Benghazi. Accordingly, he warned, if Republicans “go after her,” they will have “a problem with me.” The video is below.

The implication of Obama’s remarks was that it was unfair to hold Rice responsible for the falsity of her 9/16 performances on behalf of the administration. She knew nothing! Or she only knew what she was told.

Rice peddled the same highly rehearsed line virtually verbatim on each of the five Sunday news shows. Here is how she put it on Fox News Sunday: “The best information and the best assessment we have today is that in fact this was not a preplanned, premeditated attack. That happened initially was that it was a spontaneous reaction to what had just transpired in Cairo, as a consequence of the video.”

The transparent falsity of the line at the time inspired me to kill the better part of that Sunday on a series of posts beginning with “Fools and knaves,” followed by part 2, part 3, and part 4.

As Paul observed, it was the Obama administration’s decision to designate Rice as its spokesperson on Benghazi, having her appear on the five Sunday news shows. Because Rice lacked personal knowledge of the situation she was able to serve as a conduit of false information in ways that the actual players — e.g., Hillary Clinton — could not. Thus, Rice ended up peddling the falsehood that this was a protest that turned ugly when the jihadists joined in. The truth is that this was an attack planned and staged by jihadists.

It may be charitable to see Rice as fool who was sent on a fool’s errand. That is one interpretation and it may well be enough to qualify her for higher office in the eyes of President Obama.

What about Obama’s knowledge at the time he dispatched Susan Rice to deface the nation? John Solomon reports:

U.S. intelligence told President Barack Obama and senior administration officials within 72 hours of the Benghazi tragedy that the attack was likely carried out by local militia and other armed extremists sympathetic to al-Qaida in the region, officials directly familiar with the information told the Washington Guardian on Friday.

Based on electronic intercepts and human intelligence on the ground, the early briefings after the deadly Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. consulate in Libya identified possible organizers and participants. Most were believed to be from a local Libyan militia group called Ansar al-Sharia that is sympathetic to al-Qaida, the official said, while a handful of others was linked to a direct al-Qaida affiliate in North Africa known as AQIM.

Solomon adds this:

The details from the CIA and Pentagon assessments of the killing of Ambassador Chris [Stevens] were far more specific, more detailed and more current than the unclassified talking points that UN Ambassador Susan Rice and other officials used five days after the attack to suggest to Americans that an unruly mob angry over an anti-Islamic video was to blame, officials said.

Most of the details affirming al-Qaida links were edited or excluded from the unclassified talking points used by Rice in appearances on news programs the weekend after the attack, officials confirmed Friday. Multiple agencies were involved in excising information, doing so because it revealed sources and methods, dealt with classified intercepts or involved information that was not yet fully confirmed, the officials said.

Jennifer Rubin parses Solomon’s story here.

As others have noted, the New York Times had a good story on the Benghazi attack on the day after. While including the Muhammad video in the mix, David Kirkpatrick and Steven Lee Myers reported on September 12:

American and European officials said that while many details about the attack remained unclear, the assailants seemed organized, well trained and heavily armed, and they appeared to have at least some level of advance planning. But the officials cautioned that it was too soon to tell whether the attack was related to the anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks.

Kirkpatrick and Myers described the fighters involved in the assault as being led “by an Islamist brigade formed during last year’s uprising against Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi.”

If Susan Rice is a fool who was sent on a fool’s errand, I’m not sure what that makes President Obama. Whatever it it makes him, it certainly isn’t the chivalrous defender of the feminine persuasion he pretended to be at his press conference. Indeed, it makes him nothing good, nothing good at all.

UPDATE: Steve Hayes comments this morning in the Weekly Standard editorial “Susan Rice’s talking points.”

ONE MORE: The great Michael Ramirez is thinking along the same lines.

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