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Susan Rice: No Regrets About My Benghazi Comments

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Sunday, 23 Feb 2014 01:13 PM

By Greg Richter

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Making her first Sunday morning appearance since the Sunday after the 2012 Benghazi attacks, National Security Adviser Susan Rice says she has no regrets on her words that day which have drawn scrutiny ever since.

"Because what I said to you that morning and what I did every day since is to share the best information that we had at the time," Rice told "Meet the Press" host David Gregory.

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Rice, then U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, appeared on all five Sunday morning news shows, blaming the Sept. 11, 2012 attack on the U.S. diplomatic facilities in Benghazi, Libya, on an anti-Muslim video produced in the United States.

She admitted to Gregory on Sunday that not all of the information she shared in 2012 turned out to be 100 percent correct.

"But the notion that somehow I or anybody else in the administration misled the American people is patently false," she said. "And I think that's been amply demonstrated."

Since then, critics of the White House policy in Libya, have stressed that the attacks, which left U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans dead, were not the result of a spontaneous protest sparked by the video, but were pre-planned by an al-Qaida-linked group.

"The information I provided, which I explained to you, was what we had at the moment. It could change," Rice told Gregory. "I commented that this was based on what we knew on that morning, was provided to me and my colleagues and, indeed, to Congress, by the intelligence community. And that's been well validated in many different ways since."

Many wondered why Rice, as U.N. ambassador, even took on the role of spokesman that morning instead of then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Rice has said she agreed to the appearances because Clinton was exhausted from dealing with Benghazi.

But the controversy over that appearance may well have cost her the job of Secretary of State. She was being considered for the post after Clinton announced she was stepping down, but ultimately, Rice took her name out of consideration.

Though Obama vowed during the 2012 re-election campaign to bring the perpetrators to justice, Gregory noted that no one has yet arrested.

Rice said that promise still stands.

"We will get the perpetrators. We will stay on it till it gets done," she said.

Chris Wallace, host of "Fox News Sunday," noted that his program had asked the administration for its views about the violent protests in Ukraine, but that the White House "decided to put national security adviser Susan Rice on only one show today," as opposed to all five in 2012.

"Of course, Fox has led the way in questioning how the administration handled Benghazi. Perhaps Susan Rice didn't want to answer the tough questions we would have asked," Wallace said.

Rice discussed Ukraine on "Meet the Press," downplaying claims by ousted President Viktor Yanukovych that he will not step down.

"He is gone," Rice said, noting that Yanukovych has packed his things "in an orderly fashion," including furniture, and moved out of the capital of Kiev. His plane was prevented from leaving for Russia late Saturday night.

"It’s not in the interest of Ukraine or of Russia or of Europe or of the United States to see a country split," she said. "It’s in nobody’s interests to see violence return and the situation escalate."

Scores have been killed in protests during the past week. The country is split between those, like Yanukovych who favor strong ties with Russia, it's former Soviet leader, and those, such as the protesters, who want to align with Europe.

"There is not an inherent contradiction between a Ukraine that has longstanding historic and cultural ties to Russia, and a modern Ukraine that wants to integrate more closely with Europe," Rice said.

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