Lots of public officials and Washington, D.C., insiders do not want U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice to be nominated as secretary of state. Most of these critics think she irrevocably lost credibility by going on five Sunday-morning television shows on September 16 to deny any connection between radical Islamic terrorists and the fatal assaults on the U.S. consulate and CIA annex in Benghazi. We know now that when Rice voiced the administration talking points five days after the attack, she and others in the Obama administration already had access to intelligence sources that suggested that the assault was the preplanned work of al-Qaedist terrorists, not a spontaneous protest by a mob angered over an obscure two-month-old video.
Why, then, did a U.N. ambassador promulgate so emphatically a narrative that by any stretch of the imagination simply could not be true — and one that was so flatly contradicted by all sorts of information, from real-time videos to statements of the Libyans themselves?
We know Rice was being groomed to replace Secretary of State Hillary Clinton if President Obama won reelection, and she was eager both to showcase her skills before a national audience and to demonstrate her dutifulness to Barack Obama. So Rice either was drafted or volunteered to launch the pre-election narrative of a spontaneous demonstration gone wild over a crude anti-Islamist video — a narrative far preferable to that of a premeditated al-Qaedist attack, which would call into question the upbeat administration assessments of the Arab Spring, the Libyan intervention, and al-Qaeda in retreat after Osama bin Laden’s death.