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Susan Rice to meet with GOP critics on Capitol Hill

10:08 AM, Nov 27, 2012   |    comments
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U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice is meeting Tuesday with lawmakers on Capitol Hill on misleading statements she made about the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Libya that left the ambassador and three other Americans dead.

The meeting comes as the White House has signaled it may nominate Rice to replace Hillary Rodham Clinton as secretary of state. Some GOP senators, such as John McCain, R-Ariz., have said they may oppose her nomination because she should have known her statements on the Sept. 11 attack were false.

President Obama has defended Rice, who rose up through Democratic circles to advise presidential candidates on international issues. Under President Clinton, she weighed in on key foreign policy decisions, some of which remain controversial.

White House spokesman Jay Carney wouldn't say Monday whether the president will nominate Rice, but that if he did, she would be a good candidate.

"Ambassador Rice has done an excellent job at the United Nations and is highly qualified for any number of positions," Carney said.

Rice, 48, was born in Washington, D.C., to scholar parents who were themselves involved in policy circles. Her father, Emmett Rice, was the second black governor of the Federal Reserve System; her mother, Lois Dickson Fitt, is an education expert at the Brookings Institution.

Rice received a degree in history at Stanford University in 1986 and attended Oxford before becoming a foreign policy aide to former Democratic Massachusetts governor Michael Dukakis during his 1988 presidential run against George H.W. Bush.

After his unsuccessful campaign, Rice became a consultant at McKinsey & Company, a global consulting firm.

In 1993 she joined the administration of President Clinton, serving at the National Security Council. She held various positions, including director for International Organizations and Peacekeeping, special assistant to the president and senior director for African Affairs.

She was a policy adviser during the genocide in Rwanda and also at a time when the Clinton administration was determining how to handle the emergence of al-Qaeda as a terror threat.

Clinton and his foreign policy staff were criticized for failing to intervene in a serious way to stop the 1994 genocide in which more than 500,000 people were killed, a decision that Clinton would say was the worst mistake of his presidency.

Clinton's foreign policy staff had to fend off criticism it failed to do more to nab al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden prior to Sept. 11, 2001. According to former ambassador to Sudan,Timothy Carney, when the Sudan offered to help the United States capture bin Laden, Rice and counter-terrorism czar Richard Clarke advised against it. Later, the 9-11 Commission said no credible evidence existed that Sudan would have made good on its offer.

Following the election of Republican George W. Bush, Rice joined Brookings in 2002 as a senior fellow in the Foreign Policy and Global Economy and Development program, where she offered analyses on failing states and global hunger.

In 2004 she served as an adviser to the presidential campaign of John Kerry. In 2008 she was asked to advise then Sen. Barack Obama on foreign policy matters.

In January 2009, Rice was confirmed President Obama's permanent representative to the United Nations.

Rice is married to ABC News producer Ian Cameron. They have two children.

Rice made headlines in September when she was dispatched by the White House to discuss the administration's response to the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi in which Ambassador Chris Stevens was killed.

Rice insisted the attack emerged from a protest outside the consulate in response to an anti-Islam video produced in the USA.

It was later learned there was no protest, and the attack was a well-organized terror plot likely timed for the anniversary of Sept. 11.

Former CIA director David Petraeus testified on Capitol Hill that his agency informed the White House from the beginning that the attack in Benghazi was determined to be an organized assault by al-Qaeda-linked terrorists.

However, Rice appeared on several Sunday talk shows and insisted the attack was prompted by the video. She recently said she was only relating the intelligence information she was handed by the White House, and Obama defended Rice, saying it was not her fault.

Petraeus testified that the CIA report he approved was apparently altered to downplay the terrorist angle.

Reuel Marc Gerecht, a former CIA operations officer and now an analyst at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, says Rice's performance after the Benghazi attack raises a red flag.

"These officials are supposed to assess these things for themselves," Gerecht said. "If you see a situation where a consulate safe house is being attacked by mortars and organized teams, that should tell you this was planned before that video came out."

Rice knew the narrative that would satisfy the White House, Gerecht said. Included in that narrative is that al-Qaeda is losing ground, public sentiments toward the United States are improving in the Middle East, and the attack was not connected to U.S. foreign policy. But she still would have had access numerous news reports that contradicted that narrative, he said.

"If you want to take the president's approach, then Susan Rice is shockingly guilty of being dumb," Gerecht said.

Rice was to appear Tuesday with acting CIA Director Michael Morell, said the White House.

During an interview Monday, McCain said he would ask Rice "the same questions I've been talking about on every talk show in America." Asked whether he thinks she's still unfit for secretary of State and what he was hoping for, McCain interrupted and said, "I'm not hoping for anything. She asked to see me and I agreed to see her."

USA Today

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