Susan Rice, who could become secretary of state in President Obama's second term, extended an olive branch to her harshest critics on Capitol Hill, but they are not having it.
After a Tuesday morning meeting with Republican Sens. John McCain, Lindsey Graham and Kelly Ayotte, held at the U.N. ambassador's request, the lawmakers say they're more troubled than ever by Rice's account of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya.
"We are significantly troubled by many of the answers that we got and some that we didn't get, considering evidence that was overwhelming leading up to the attack on our consulate, the tragic death — deaths — of four brave Americans, and whether Ambassador Rice was prepared or informed sufficiently in order to give the American people a correct depiction of the events that took place," McCain told reporters after the meeting.
Rice has repeatedly said that the narrative she provided on several Sunday morning talk shows after the tragic event was based solely on the talking points she'd received from the intelligence committee.
"Neither I nor anyone else in the administration intended to mislead the American people at any stage in this process, and the administration updated Congress and the American people as our assessments evolved," Rice said in a statement.
The Republican lawmakers say that's yet another unacceptable explanation.
"The American people got bad information on Sept. 16. They got bad information from President Obama days after," Graham said. "And the question is, should they have been giving the information at all? If you can do nothing but give bad information, isn't it better to give no information at all?"
But questions also have been raised about the motives behind their aggressive opposition, particularly McCain's. Critics have wondered whether he's still bitter over his loss to Obama in 2008, while others have speculated that it may be related to the fact that Ambassador Christopher Stevens, who was killed during the attack, was a dear friend.
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(Photo: SHEN HONG/Xinhua /Landov)
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