THE BLOG

A False Attack on Amb. Susan Rice

11/15/2012 05:23 pm ET | Updated Jan 15, 2013

As I have listened to leading Republicans denigrate Ambassador Susan Rice, I am struck by how unfair this attack is, how untruthful it is, and how at odds it is with their past actions.

The truth is, when Ambassador Rice was asked on Face the Nation about the tragic deaths of four Americans in Benghazi, she shared exactly what she and the Congress had been directly told at the time by the intelligence community.

But she also said that this information was preliminary, stressing that an investigation had begun, and warning that "we'll want to see the results of that investigation to draw any definitive conclusions."

She was not spinning. She was not twisting the truth. She was simply being forthcoming with the best information available at the time. And for that, she is now being viciously attacked by Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham.

This treatment stands in stark contrast with their vocal support of Condoleezza Rice who -- unlike Susan Rice -- deliberately misrepresented intelligence.

In September 2002, then-National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice appeared on a talk show and claimed that Iraq was importing high quality aluminum tubes that "are only really suited for nuclear weapons programs, centrifuge programs."

But in 2004, shortly before she was nominated by President George W. Bush to be Secretary of State, Rice admitted "there was some debate" at the time about the intelligence behind the aluminum tubes -- information she had chosen to ignore during her 2002 appearance. In fact, both the State Department and the Department of Energy believed that the tubes were intended for conventional weapons -- not nuclear weapons.

Tragically, the false assertions made by Rice and other top officials in the Bush administration helped propel our country into a devastating and costly war in Iraq that claimed more than 4,400 American lives. But somehow, Rice's role in these profound intelligence failures did not prevent Senators McCain and Graham from championing her nomination to be Secretary of State.

In fact, Senator Graham argued that Condoleezza Rice couldn't be held responsible for misleading the American public on Iraq because "every intelligence agency in the world was misled."

That defense is stunning given his hurtful rhetoric about Susan Rice, a remarkable public servant who has served our country for 20 years with grace and strength, most recently as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations.

Ambassador Rice helped enact the toughest international sanctions on Iran in history. She led efforts to secure Security Council Resolutions that helped bring down the brutal dictator Muammar Ghaddafi and put in place tough sanctions on North Korea. And she has stood up time and time against efforts to de-legitimize Israel. Those who are personally attacking her now should know well that these were not easy tasks.

Instead of vilifying Ambassador Rice, my Republican colleagues should be working with her and our president to continue building a stronger and more secure America.