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Frankfurter Rundschau, Germany

Sore Losers

By Damir Fras

Translated By Ron Argentati

28 November 2012

Edited by Gillian Palmer

Germany - Frankfurter Rundschau - Original Article (German)

Republicans threaten Obama saying they will refuse to confirm Susan Rice, his top choice for secretary of state, if he insists on nominating her. How bizarre.

It has been over three weeks since the U.S. presidential election but Republicans still have not gotten over losing to Barack Obama. In a bizarre spectacle they are now trying to torpedo Susan Rice, his top choice for Secretary of State, by refusing to confirm her nomination. All this before Rice, currently ambassador to the United Nations, has even been officially named as successor to Hillary Clinton. Not that that bothers some Republicans who are making early threats to withhold confirmation based on their suspicion of a conspiracy.

To some Republicans, the nefarious U.S. government Benghazi plot looks like this: On Sept. 11, the 11th anniversary of the attacks in New York and Washington, the U.S. ambassador to Libya, Chris Stevens, was killed along with three of his staff members. The attack took place on the day of huge protests against the anti-Mohammed film “Innocence of Muslims.” Susan Rice announced shortly thereafter that according to her information, the attacks were a spontaneous result of those demonstrations. And five days later, Sept. 16, Rice was still sticking to that version of events in television interviews she gave.

The CIA, however, announced on the day of the attack that they had evidence that the attack that killed Stevens was deliberately planned and carried out by al-Qaida. That piece of intelligence was not given to Susan Rice because the agency did not want to compromise or endanger its sources. Rice confirmed this week in discussions with her Senate critics that she had given out incorrect information and that no demonstrations had occurred in Benghazi on Sept. 11. But, Rice maintained, she had only based her statements on the information available to her at the time and the situation had meanwhile changed. In her statement she said, "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."

That was not enough for Rice's critics — among them Senator John McCain, who ran unsuccessfully against Obama for the presidency in 2008 — who rebutted Rice's claims, writing, “We are disturbed that the administration isn't prepared to answer the most basic questions concerning the attacks in Benghazi nor disclose its reaction to those attacks. Beyond the untruthful answers from Ambassador Rice, we also have additional questions as to what happened in Benghazi before, during and after the attacks.”*

But that sounds like a desperate attempt to invent a scandal. Apart from the references to communications difficulties — no doubt factual — the Republicans have not yet been able to come up with any proof of a Benghazi conspiracy. How is it supposed to look? Is Obama supposed to have instructed Rice to lie in order to ensure his reelection? Could the deaths of four Americans even ensure that? And could the initial findings, as wrong as they might turn out to be, prove incompetence on the part of a nominee for the office of Secretary of State?

The Republican accusations are simply implausible because they ask no really important questions. Why did the Benghazi attacks take the entire U.S. intelligence apparatus by surprise? Why was the embassy inadequately protected? What are the ramifications of the attacks for other U.S. diplomats worldwide?

These questions have meanwhile been asked by Robert Kagan, the neoconservative foreign policy expert and certainly no fan of either Rice or Obama, who wrote in the Washington Post that Susan Rice should not be made a scapegoat for Benghazi, saying he has also yet to see any proof of a conspiracy. Kagan went on to say, “With so many potential crises staring us in the face in 2013, the country doesn’t need a nasty fight over who said what when or a brutal confirmation battle that may result in a new secretary of state wounded from the start by a partisan Senate vote.” Kagan says the attacks on Rice are motivated by partisan politics and that the Republicans are simply angry over losing the election. They want to get back at Obama, even if that means going against the best interests of the United States.

That will all be straightened out in the days to come. More serious are the charges made by some members of Congress that the attacks on Rice are racially motivated. While they have no proof to substantiate that charge, it should be noted that 80 of the 97 House members who signed a letter to the president urging him to abandon the Rice nomination are white males.

*Editor’s Note: This quotation, accurately translated, could not be verified.



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