POLITICS

Susan Rice Attacked Over Benghazi Assessment Once Held By John McCain

FILE - This Nov. 14, 2012 file photo shows Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., the ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committ
FILE - This Nov. 14, 2012 file photo shows Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., the ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, gesturing during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington. With congressional opposition softening, U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice could find her name in contention as early as this week to succeed Hillary Rodham Clinton as secretary of state. Her nomination to the top Cabinet job could signal the potential for a more robust intervention in world crises in President Barack Obama’s second term. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

Susan Rice has come under attack for repeating approved talking points that suggested the attack at an American diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, was the spontaneous outgrowth of a spate of anti-US protests across the Middle East.

But as it turns out, that assessment -- incorrect as it later proved to be -- was a widely held one at the time, including by some of the very people who have recently used it to lambaste Rice as a possible nominee for secretary of state.

On Sept. 14, three days after the attacks, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), one of Rice's primary antagonists in the Senate, told reporters at a press conference that there had been “demonstrations” at the mission in Benghazi, ThinkProgress reported Friday, and that extremists had “seized this opportunity to attack our consulate.”

Rice's infamous Sunday shows appearance came two days later. By that point it was growing clear that the attack in Libya had not grown out of a peaceful protest, but had likely been the result of a carefully planned assault.

Republicans have assailed Rice for incorrectly talking about a protest outside the Benghazi mission, and citing an anti-Islam video as a motivating factor. They have argued that by the time Rice appeared on the shows, it should have been obvious that the Benghazi attack had been planned and was not related to a protest.

But a week later, on Sept. 22, the entire senate -- including McCain -- cosponsored a resolution that used similar language in describing the incidents in Benghazi and elsewhere in region. That resolution described the violence in Benghazi "coincided with an attack on the United States embassy in Cairo, which was also swarmed by an angry mob of protesters on September 11, 2012."

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