Rice insisted Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, and suggested he also likely had a nuclear weapon he was prepared to give al-Qaida terrorists.
“We don’t want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud,“ Rice famously declared.
We now know Vice President Dick Cheney was pushing the CIA to give him the Iraq analysis he wanted, not the analysis that reflected the available intelligence.
Nevertheless, Condi Rice was out there delivering the administration talking points she’d been handed on Sunday morning news programs, never questioning their veracity.
In 2004, when Rice was nominated to be Secretary of State, Sens. John McCain and Lindsay Graham supported her.
Now, however, McCain, Graham and other GOP senators who voted for Rice’s confirmation are “deeply disturbed” that U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice went on Sunday morning news programs Oct. 16 to deliver the Obama administration’s talking points about the Benghazi attack.
It’s so typical of the double standard Republicans like to apply to the Obama administration. But this one features a major disconnect.
While Condi Rice flogged false information ginned up by Cheney and CIA Director George Tenet, Susan Rice presented unclassified facts as the administration understood them.
Former CIA Director David Petraeus recently said the CIA withheld reports that extremists with links to al-Qaida were involved in the attack to avoid tipping off the terrorist organization. Thus, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the CIA removed the terms “attack,” “Al-Qaida” and “terrorism” from the talking points it gave the White House.
Rice’s tormenters have focused on her statement that the attack was, “a direct result of a heinous and offensive video” that a Coptic Christian produced and posted on the Internet. They claim she hid al-Qaida’s involvement for political reasons.
As reported in the November 27 New York Times, however, “(Libyan) witnesses to the assault said it was carried out by members of the Ansar al-Shariah militant group, without any warning or protest, in retaliation for an American-made video mocking the Prophet Muhammad.”
In accusing President Obama of a cover-up, McCain and Graham are relying on a phony Fox News report.
In late October, Fox reported that, when the attack on the Benghazi consulate began, security officers were ordered to “stand down” and stay at their annex nearby. The CIA quickly responded to Fox’s false report with this statement:
“We can say with confidence that the Agency reacted quickly to aid our colleagues. … Moreover, no one at any level in the CIA told anybody not to help those in need; claims to the contrary are simply inaccurate.”
The same Fox News report also claimed the CIA “chain of command” — clearly implying the White House — refused to pass along requests for help from a Special Forces base in Italy. In fact, those forces arrived in Benghazi after the five-hour attack had ended.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, who met with Obama immediately after the attack began on Sept. 11, said the president ordered him to take whatever steps were necessary to help the besieged Americans.
The secretary “ordered all appropriate forces to respond to the unfolding events in Benghazi, but the attack was over before those forces could be employed,“ Pentagon spokesman George Little told the media.
McCain, Graham and the rest know all of this. But that hasn’t stopped them from smearing Obama or the good name of Ambassador Rice.
Kevin Foley is a public relations executive, author and writer who lives in Kennesaw.