Rice defends Libya attack remarks
Published 22/11/2012 | 02:09
America's United Nations ambassador vowed to get to the bottom of the "terrorist" attack that killed the US ambassador to Libya and three other Americans in Benghazi as she defended her early remarks on the outrage.
Susan Rice's comments came as Libya's investigation into the attack on the US consulate more than two months ago appeared to be in limbo amid fears of reprisals from extremist militias.
On Wednesday night Ms Rice said that her early account of the attack was based on the initial intelligence community assessments and was always subject to review and updates.
Her comments attributing the attacks to a mob enraged over an anti-Muslim video posted on YouTube were widely condemned by Republicans during the US presidential campaign.
The night-time assault came on the 11th anniversary of the September 11 2001 terror attacks on the United States, and her critics said it was clearly a terrorist attack aimed at the anniversary. US ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens and three other Americans were killed.
The focus has fallen on Ms Rice because she is a long-time White House insider and believed to be President Barack Obama's first choice to replace secretary of state Hillary Clinton, who is not expected to stay on during his second term.
Ms Rice told reporters outside the UN Security Council: "As a senior US diplomat, I agreed to a White House request to appear on the Sunday shows to talk about the full range of national security issues of the day, which at that time were primarily and particularly the protests that were enveloping and threatening many diplomatic facilities, American diplomatic facilities around the world, and Iran's nuclear programme. The attack on our facilities in Benghazi was obviously a significant piece of this."
Hours before the Benghazi violence, a mob in Cairo attacked the US embassy there, denouncing the videos as anti-Islamic blasphemy.
"When discussing the attack against our facilities in Benghazi, I relied solely and squarely on the information provided to me by the intelligence community," Ms Rice said. "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 available."
"You know the FBI and the State Department's Accountability Review Board are conducting investigations as we speak. And they will look into all aspects of this heinous terrorist attack, to provide what will become the definitive accounting of what occurred. None of us will rest, none of us will be satisfied until we have the answers, and the terrorists responsible for this attack are brought to justice."