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Archive for November, 2012

I can understand the anger of many Republicans about Benghazi. An attack on a U.S. consulate resutled in four American deaths, and the Administration, in the midst of a political campaign, refused to admit what had become obvious to most foreign policy hands – that the attack was linked to terrorists. But I think Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham may be barking up the wrong tree here in criticizing Susan Rice. As U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Ms. Rice is basically a mail carrier, delivering the Administration line to other nations. Most ambassadors aren’t chest deep in policy discussions. They take the finished product of those discussions and relay them to the public. The question is, “Who told Susan Rice what to say?” If McCain and Graham are going after Rice in the same way that cops go after a low-level drug dealer in order to get him to roll over on the bigger fish, then I’d understand that, although there’s a downside to being seen as treating a black female different than they’d treat a white male. (The counterpoint to that is that when there’s already a giant gender gap and blacks are voting 93% Democrat already, there’s not as much of a political downside as the casual observer might think.) But if they actually think Susan Rice is actually the person who made the decisions as to what to say, my guess is they’re mistaken. As General Petraeus said yesterday, the CIA made it clear early that al Qaeda was involved. It’s important to find out who in the Administration changed Susan Rice’s talking points. It’s likely not to be Susan Rice herself.

It’s important to get to the heart of this matter. In Spain, a governing coalition fell because it lied as to who was behind the 2004 Madrid train bombing. It was three days before an election, the sitting government of Prime Minister Jose Aznar didn’t want to admit that it was al Qaeda connected, so it said it was a Basque separatist attack. That lie blew up in Aznar’s face and his government, which had been leading in the polls, was decisively defeated, turning the government sharply leftward and leading Spain further down the road to its current financial disaster. We need to know who in the Obama Administration tried to change the facts behind the Benghazi attack and why. The answer is most likely, however, not Susan Rice.

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