Susan Rice goes on TV to defend her statements on Benghazi attack

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WASHINGTON -- Susan Rice, President Barack Obama's national security adviser, on Sunday defended statements she made during a round of 2012 TV appearances about the attack on a U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya, saying there was never an attempt to mislead the public.

Her appearance on NBC's "Meet the Press" was her first one on a network Sunday show since September 2012, days after the attack that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans.

Her adherence to Obama administration talking points at the time -- that the attack appeared to be a "spontaneous" response to protests in Egypt over an offensive YouTube video -- was later cast into doubt and continues to be a source of debate. Some accused the administration of attempting to downplay the terrorist involvement in the attack.

At the time, Mr. Obama and other administration officials defended Ms. 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 Mr. Obama's second term.

Ms. Rice on Sunday defended her remarks, saying she shared "the best information that we had at the time."

"The information I provided -- which I explained to you was what we had at the moment, it could change, 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," she said. "That's been well validated in many different ways since. And that information turned out in some respects not to be 100 percent correct. But the notion that somehow I or anybody else in the administration misled the American people is patently false."

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., one of the leading critics of the administration's handling of Benghazi, laughed when shown Ms. Rice's comments during his appearance on CBS's "Face The Nation."

"The information was totally misleading, totally false," he said. "And for Susan Rice to say such a thing, I think, is a little embarrassing to tell you the truth."


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