WASHINGTON – National security adviser Susan Rice on Sunday defended statements she made during a round of 2012 TV appearances about the attack on a U.S. mission in Benghazi, saying there was never an attempt to mislead the public.
Her appearance on NBC’s “Meet the Press” was Rice’s first appearance on a network Sunday show since September 2012, days after the attack in Libya that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans.
Her adherence to administration talking points at the time – that the attack appeared to be a “spontaneous” response to protests in Egypt over an offensive YouTube video – were later cast into doubt and continue to be a source of debate. Some accused the administration of attempting to downplay the terrorist involvement in the attack.
At the time, President Barack Obama and other administration officials defended Rice, who was then the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. But blowback from her appearances probably cost her an appointment as secretary of state in Obama’s second term.
Rice on Sunday defended her remarks, saying she shared “the best information that we had at the time.”
“The notion that somehow I or anybody else in the administration misled the American people is patently false, and I think that’s been amply demonstrated,” she said.
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., one of the leading critics of the administration’s handling of Benghazi, laughed when shown Rice’s comments during his appearance on CBS’ “Face The Nation.”
“I’m almost speechless,” he said. “The information was totally misleading, totally false.”