UNITED NATIONS -- U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice said Wednesday that her early account of the attack that killed the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three other Americans in Benghazi was based on the initial intelligence community assessments and was always subject to review and updates.
She said she respects Republican Sen. John McCain, who has been critical of her, but says "some of the statements he's made about me have been unfounded, but I look forward to having the opportunity at the appropriate time to discuss all of this with him."
Her comments attributing the attacks to a mob enraged over an anti-Muslim video posted on YouTube were widely denounced by Republicans during the U.S. presidential campaign. The attack came on the 11th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks on the United States, and her critics said it was clearly a terrorist attack aimed at the anniversary. U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans were killed.
The focus has fallen on Rice because she is a longtime White House insider and is believed to be President Barack Obama's first choice to replace Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who is not expected to stay on during his second term.
Rice told reporters outside the U.N. Security Council: "As a senior U.S. diplomat, I agreed to a White House request to appear on the Sunday shows to talk about the full range of national security issues of the day, which at that time were primarily and particularly the protests that were enveloping and threatening many diplomatic facilities, American diplomatic facilities around the world, and Iran's nuclear program."
"The attack on our facilities in Benghazi was obviously a significant piece of this," Rice said.
Hours before the Benghazi violence, a mob in Cairo attacked the U.S. Embassy there to denounce the videos as anti-Islamic blasphemy.
"When discussing the attack against our facilities in Benghazi, I relied solely and squarely on the information provided to me by the intelligence community," she said.
"I made clear that the information was preliminary, and that our investigations would give us the definitive answers," she added.
"Everyone, particularly the intelligence community, has worked in good faith to provide the best assessment based on the information available."
"You know the FBI and the State Department's Accountability Review Board are conducting investigations as we speak. And they will look into all aspects of this heinous terrorist attack, to provide what will become the definitive accounting of what occurred," she said.
"Let me just end by saying I knew Chris Stevens. I worked closely with him and had the privilege of doing so as we tried together, as a government, to free the Libyan people from the tyranny of (Libyan leader Moammar) Gadhafi. He was a valued colleague, and his loss, as well as the loss of his three colleagues, is a massive tragedy for all of us who serve in the U.S. government, and for all the American people," Rice said.
"None of us will rest, none of us will be satisfied until we have the answers, and the terrorists responsible for this attack are brought to justice," she said.
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U.S. President Barack Obama
"The United States condemns in the strongest terms this outrageous and shocking attack. ... Make no mistake: We will work with the Libyan government to bring to justice the killers who attacked our people. ... We reject all efforts to denigrate the religious beliefs of others, but there is absolutely no justification for this type of senseless violence, none." (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
British Prime Minister David Cameron
"This senseless attack ended the lives of people who had worked selflessly alongside Libyans during their darkest days. ... We look to the new Libyan authorities to do all in their power, as they have pledged to do, to bring the killers to justice. Britain stands ready to assist Libya and the United States in that task. Above all, we will honor the memory of these dedicated people by continuing their work to help Libyans build a secure and free country." (AP Photo/Ben Stansall, Pool)
"The Islamic Republic of Afghanistan strongly condemns this inhuman and insulting action (the film) and shows its strong hatred against this action. Insulting the messenger of Islam is to insult the values of 1.5 billion Muslims around the world. This insulting action will cause enmity and contrast between religions and cultures in the world and will be a strong punch to peace and harmony between humans."(AP Photo/Ahmad Massoud / Xinhua, Pool)
Pakistan's Foreign Ministry
"Such abominable actions, synchronized with commemoration of atrocious events like 9/11, provoke hatred, discord and enmity within societies and between peoples of various faiths. The event has deeply hurt the feelings of the people of Pakistan and the Muslims all over the world." (AP Photo/Brendan Smialowski, Pool)
The movie is an "immoral act that represents the highest levels of aggression against human rights that is represented by the respect of people's beliefs. ... The United Nations should issue laws that criminalize such acts similar to laws that criminalize anti-Semites." (AP Photo/Bilal Hussein)
NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen
"It is important that the new Libya continues to move toward a peaceful, secure and democratic future."(AP Photo/Shakh Aivazov, Pool)
Libyan interim President Mohammed el-Megarif
"We extend our apology to America, the American people and the whole world." (AP Photo)