9:59 AM PST, November 16, 2012
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank), a senior member of the U.S. Intelligence Committee, said he supports U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice, who faced sharp criticism for her remarks in the immediate aftermath of the attack on the American consulate in Benghazi, Libya.
Speaking on the Sunday morning talk show circuit, Rice said the attacks, in which Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans were killed, did not appear to be premeditated, tying it to a similar incident that broke out in Cairo that was sparked by a video that the Muslim world found offensive.
The Obama administration has since acknowledged that it was a terrorist attack.
“I have worked with [Rice] for several years, and have the greatest confidence in her knowledge, experience, integrity and ability,” Schiff said in a statement. “I am deeply disturbed by the present attacks on her character.”
Schiff said members of the Intelligence Committee on Thursday were provided with what the intelligence community considered its best initial assessments of what took place in Benghazi following the assault on the American consulate.
Acting CIA Director Michael Morell told committee members that Rice would have been given the same assessments before appearing on the talk shows, Schiff said.
After Rice’s initial television appearances, Republican Sen. John McCain claimed Rice gave false information about the incident and said he would do everything in his power to block her from being named U.S. secretary of state.
Schiff said he strongly disagrees with those statements.
“Those who have suggested that Ambassador Rice was politicizing the intelligence or misrepresenting what the intelligence community was putting forward as its best assessment are either unfamiliar with the facts or willfully disregarding them,” Schiff said. “This is a disservice to a dedicated public servant and I hope these unfounded attacks on Ambassador Rice will come to a rapid end."
-- Mark Kellam, Times Community News
Follow Mark Kellam on Twitter: @LAMarkKellam