Revisiting what Susan Rice said!


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It's been amazing to see what people have said about Susan Rice this week.

Now that Rice has been cast as number-one demon again, reviews of her past conduct with respect to Benghazi have come flooding in. We were struck by what Greta Van Susteren said on Tuesday night.

On her MSNBC program, Van Susteren spoke with the Washington Post's Catherine Rampell. She offered this view of Rice:
RAMPELL (4/4/17): I mean, [Republicans] love to hate on Susan Rice, right? She has been sort of the whipping boy or whipping woman, I don't know the right version of that expression.

VAN SUSTEREN: She did some curious things in Benghazi a number of years ago. She earned that confusion.

RAMPELL: She has been a favorite villain of Republicans for a long time.

VAN SUSTEREN: Look, not to relitigate Benghazi, but it was unusual, what she said that morning about the videotape. So, people have naturally—it's not unreasonable for some to be suspicious.
According to Van Susteren, Rice earned her bad reputation by the "curious things she did" with respect to Benghazi.

According to Van Susteren, "it was unusual, what [Rice] said that morning about the videotape"—the YouTube videotape which had set off violent protests all over the Muslim world. For that reason, "it's not unreasonable for some people to be suspicious" of Rice at this point.

Back in 2012, we "litigated" Rice's remarks about Benghazi at substantial length. After seeing Van Susteren (and others) offer sketchy accounts of what Rice said, we decided to go back and look at the transcripts again.

This is what we found:

On September 16, 2012, Rice appeared on all five Sunday morning programs. She was asked about Benghazi on four of the programs.

Did Rice say something unusual about the YouTube videotape—the videotape which had touched off violent demonstrations all over the Muslim world? Did she say any "curious things" on those programs that day?

Actually, no—she did not. The fact that so many people are still saying different is an indictment of the way our liberal "intellectual leaders" ran in fear as Rice was trashed in the aftermath of those programs.

Did Rice say any "curious things" on those programs that day? For perhaps the millionth time, we reread the transcripts from Face the Nation and Meet the Press.

Rice's comments were perfectly sensible. But her comments on Face the Nation were immediately misparaphrased by Bob Schieffer and John McCain, and the months-long dunking of the witch was underway.

It was on the CBS program where the bullshit met the road. On that program, Rice barely mentioned the YouTube videotape. As she did on all the shows, she stressed the fact that the intelligence community still didn't know exactly what had happened in the recent killing attack.

After voicing that disclaimer, she offered the intelligence community's "best information/assessment as of the present." At one point, Schieffer referred to an unsupported claim by Mohammed Magariaf, president of the Libyan National Congress:
RICE (9/16/12): Based on the best information we have to date, what our assessment is, as of the present, is in fact what—it began spontaneously in Benghazi as a reaction to what had transpired some hours earlier in Cairo, where, of course, as you know, there was a violent protest outside of our embassy sparked by this hateful video.

But soon after that spontaneous protest began outside of our consulate in Benghazi, we believe that it looks like extremist elements, individuals, joined in that effort with heavy weapons of the sort that are, unfortunately, readily now available in Libya post-revolution. And that it spun from there into something much, much more violent.

SCHIEFFER: But you do not agree with [Magariaf] that this was something that had been plotted out several months ago?

RICE: We do not. We do not have information at present that leads us to conclude that this was premeditated or preplanned.

SCHIEFFER: Do you agree or disagree with him that al Qaeda had some part in this?

RICE: Well, we'll have to find out that out. I mean, I think it's clear that there were extremist elements that joined in and escalated the violence. Whether they were al Qaeda affiliates, whether they were Libyan-based extremists or al Qaeda itself I think is one of the things we'll have to determine.
According to Rice, a "spontaneous protest" had begun outside the Benghazi consulate (as had occurred in Cairo and elsewhere around the world). At some point, "extremist elements" armed with "heavy weapons" arrived on the scene and "escalated the violence."

She said the intelligence community didn't have evidence that the attack had been pre-planned for months. (In other words, that it had been planned to coincided with the anniversary of the original 9/11 attacks on the U.S.)

She said the "extremists elements" who staged the attack might have been Libyan-based extremists. She said they might have been al Qaeda affiliates or even "al Qaeda itself."

One part of that early "best assessment" was later rejected by the intelligence community. According to the later assessment, there had been no earlier protest underway when the heavily-armed extremist elements arrived on the scene to stage the violent attacks.

That said, Rice never claimed that a bunch of peaceful protesters suddenly went crazy and launched a set of murderous attacks. She always said that the killing attacks had been conducted by "extremist elements" who were "heavily armed"—extremist elements who might have been "al Qaeda itself."

Rice's presentation was sensible and cautious. She stressed, on several occasions, that it was a preliminary assessment—that the official investigation had barely begun.

Her presentation was sensible—but so what? As soon as his interview with Rice was done, Bob Schieffer turned to his next guest, the always truthful John McCain.

Immediately, Schieffer and McCain began to reinvent what Rice had just said. In this remarkable passage, an extremely successful propaganda campaign was born:
SCHIEFFER: Madam Ambassador, thank you for being with us.

RICE: Thank you very much.

SCHIEFFER: And joining us now for his take on all this, the ranking Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, John McCain.

Senator, you've got to help me out here. The president of Libya says that this was something that had been in the works for two months, this attack. He blames it on al Qaeda. Susan Rice says that the State Department thinks it is some sort of a spontaneous event. What do you make of it?

MCCAIN: Most people don't bring rocket-propelled grenades and heavy weapons to a demonstration. That was an act of terror. And for anyone to disagree with that fundamental fact I think is really ignoring the facts.

Now, how long it was planned and who was involved, but there was no doubt there were extremists, and there's no doubt they were using heavy weapons and they used pretty good tactics—indirect fire, direct fire, and obviously they were successful.


SCHIEFFER: Why do you think— Is there something more going on here than a difference of opinion when the administration spokesman today says that she believes, and the administration believes, this was just a spontaneous act?

MCCAIN: How spontaneous is a demonstration when people bring rocket-propelled grenades and heavy weapons and have a very tactically successful military operation?
In that passage, you see the instant reinvention of what Susan Rice actually said. Let's run through the highlighted statements:

First, Schieffer made it sound like Rice denied that al Qaeda was involved. Plainly, that isn't what she said.

He also introduced the confusion which would endlessly surround the term "spontaneous:"

"Susan Rice says that the State Department thinks the attack was some sort of a spontaneous event," Schieffer said. What she'd actually said was substantially different. She'd actually said the State Department had no evidence supporting the claim that the attack had been preplanned for months.

For some reason which went unexplained, Schieffer seemed to think that al-Magariaf, a Libyan pol, just had to be right on that point, while Rice just had to be wrong. He conveyed this unfounded, baseless notion right from the start of his exchange with McCain.

Schieffer's performance was utterly hapless. McCain took the ball and ran. He immediately started making it sound like Rice had claimed that a bunch of spontaneous protesters had staged the killing attacks.

Plainly, that isn't what she'd said. But Scheiffer and McCain kept topping each other as they invented a silly story which Rice was said to have told.

At one point, McCain hotly insisted that extremists using heavy weapons had staged the attack. That, of course, is precisely what Rice had just said.

By the final exchange we've posted, Schieffer was plainly suggesting that Rice seemed to have been untruthful. That said, Schieffer's performance was assembled from such insinuations from its beginning to its end.

The reinvention of Rice's remarks proceeded from there with remarkable speed and power. The entire Republican world began repeating, and embellishing, this silly account of what Rice had supposedly said.

Some mainstream journalists like Schieffer joined in. And alas! As all this bullshit was being sold, our major liberal "thought leaders" ran off and hid in the woods, as is their reliable wont.

Please don't make us review again what people like Maddow did. But Rachel Maddow didn't say a word in support of Rice until after the November election.

(Four years later, she ran and hid when Comey the God launched his irregular attack on Candidate Clinton in July 2016. Rachel Maddow, a corporate clown, is a cautious, self-dealing nightmare.)

Rice made perfectly sensible statements that day. On every show, she repeatedly said that the assessments she was offering were preliminary.

Schieffer and McCain quickly reinvented what she said. Careful careerist players like Maddow refused to challenge those reinventions. Rice was thrown under a very large bus. The all-purpose Benghazi tale was born.

Schieffer and McCain got this gong-show started. Cowards like Maddow enabled it. Tuesday night, Rachel's favorite drinking buddy told the world, all over again, that Rice had brought the current obloquy on herself because of her curious statements about Benghazi, way back in 2012!

To this day, we liberals love the silly child who mugs and clowns for us every night. We love her because we're the world's dumbest tribe, except for all the other tribes, the ones which are just like us.

Al Gore didn't say he invented the Internet. He didn't say he inspired Love Story. He didn't say he discovered Love Canal.

Years later, Susan Rice didn't say that a bunch of peaceful protesters went crazy and burned Benghazi down. She actually said it might have been al Qaeda!

History changed, and people died, because of the silly, bogus statements attributed to Gore and Rice. Those bogus claims hardened, then turned to stone, because of our leadership's cowardice and ineptitude and/or its endless refusal to serve.

Our tribe is too dumb to grasp these points. Meanwhile, in our self-impressed view, the dumb ones are all Over There!


  1. Maddow heartliy defended Rice the morning after. She said "All morning shows have to be popular and have to accommodate what Ms Rice said to the comprehension of the least intelligent of those whom it seeks to reach." Check the transcripts broseff.

  2. I just took my pants off.

  3. A long time ago being crazy meant something. Nowadays everybody's crazy.

  4. How are liberals responsible for the reinvention of what Rice said by McCain and Schieffer?

    1. They become responsible when they fail to push back, when they allow the smear to stand.

    2. There is no way to combat the huge echo chamber that keeps repeating lies on the right. No matter how often we say this stuff, people hear the lies everywhere and don't believe us.

      That is what happened to Hillary. We all worked very hard to combat the lies but it wasn't enough. People who heard the lies decided she was worse than Trump and either stayed home or voted for him as the lesser of evils.

      Hillary had massive support from almost the entire left (except Bernie & his supporters) and they tried hard to push back, but they were outgunned.

      It is helpful that the noise machine generating the lies is now being exposed for what it is, but no one on the right is going to believe that expose either.

      So how, exactly, were liberals supposed to fight back?

      The more time you devote to debunking lies, the less time there is to talk about your own programs and get across your own messages. That's partly why the coal miners didn't hear Hillary's plan to help them find new jobs. It is part of why she was accused (after the election) of not spending enough time addressing the needs of working class white males. Resources are finite and if your expend them pushing back, you cannot expend them moving forward.

      It is more appropriate to blame Russia and the conservatives who broke laws during the past election, and Sanders supporters who undermined the party out of selfishness (and manipulation by Russia) and so on. But blaming liberals for something they didn't do and couldn't fight doesn't seem calculated to help our party win next time. In fact, it is demoralizing, which is part of why I keep wondering whose side Somerby is really on.

    3. Somerby is complaining not about liberals at large, but about those in the MSM who do have large platforms and over the years have not only failed to push back but have themselves promoted the false narratives, e.g., that Hillary is a big liar.

    4. Yep, Bob hates it when we liberals are to brazen and demand answers like Rachel Maddow. Oh yeah, he also hates it when we don't "fight back." Same as it ever was.

    5. Susan Rice did not lie. She accurately reported the information the CIA gave her.

      Years ago, I decided to see what all the flak was about. I found the smoking gun I was searching for.
      This is the email that launched a thousand news reports, 8 Congressional investigations and toppled many government servants, the good with the evil.
      The entire right wing edifice of BENGHAZI! was spun from this single document, retrieved and released by Judicial Watch.

      From: Rhodes, Benjamin J.
      Sent: Friday, September 14, 2012 8:09 PM
      To: Vega,Dag; NSC Deputy Press Secretary; Plouffe, David; Pfeiffer, Dan, Carney,Jay; Palmieri, Jennifer; Earnest, Joshua R.; Govashiri, Ferial; Ledbetter, Howli J.; Selak, Dawn; Brundage, Daniel; Pelton, Erin;
      Alhassani, Mehdi K.
      Subject: RE: PREP CALL with Susan: Saturday at 4:00 pm ET

      Goals: To convey that the United States is doing everything that we can to protect our people and facilities abroad;

      To underscore that these protests are rooted in an Internet video, and not a broader failure of policy;


    6. That says absolutely zero about what she said. She told the truth and they lied about what she said, period. But somebody wrote a memo saying what is obvious and you think it proves your case. You prove our case.


    They are bigots.

  6. “But blaming liberals for something they didn't do and couldn't fight doesn't seem calculated to help our party win next time. In fact, it is demoralizing, which is part of why I keep wondering whose side Somerby is really on."

    There’s where you’re misunderstanding Bob. He’s not blaming liberals per se (our party), he’s blaming purported liberals in the mainstream TV media, like Maddow.

    When Benghazi blew up, there was no one to push back against the narrative created by the TV media. Supposed liberals like Maddow ran away, as Bob notes.

    Maddow is a version of Hannity in that she just throws out partisan talking points. Her intent is not to serve our interests, to inform us on important issues. What is it, exactly, that she does?

    Bob’s tilting at windmills, because TV media is almost completely compromised, but I’m glad he does it. Few others have the stomach for it. Unfortunately, what he's really saying is misunderstood by some readers.

    1. When Benghazi blew up, there was no one to push back against the narrative created by the TV media.

      There certainly was one person who was conspicuously quiet, and that was the President, Obama, who allowed Rice and then his SoS, Hillary Clinton to bear the brunt of the transparent manufactured attacks from the goon squad in the GOP.

  7. "Schieffer's performance was utterly hapless."

    No, it was slanted to favor the Republican line.

    These are corporate journalists we're talking about. It really IS that easy an explanation. And it keeps happening and happening.

  8. Bob, Al Gore lost because he ran against a God-fearin' man. A man who launched a war upon God's order. Human actions played no role. Of course it didn't help that Gore ran under the banner of the DEMON-RAT Party. The party of Satan doesn't stand a chance when God fearin' men step up to the plate, Bob. Bob, follow Dubya's example and join the Party of God. Convince your friend Al to do so too.

  9. Boxcar Bob replays his old "hits" as if he were Gail Collins retelling tales of Romney's dog on the car.

  10. In January, Susan Rice Assured NPR the Obama Admin Removed Chemical Weapons From Syria

    We were able to find a solution that didn't necessitate the use of force that actually removed the chemical weapons that were known from Syria, in a way that the use of force would never have accomplished. Our aim in contemplating the use of force following the use of chemical weapons in August of 2013 was not to intervene in the civil war, not to become involved in the combat between Assad and the opposition, but to deal with the threat of chemical weapons by virtue of the diplomacy that we did with Russia and with the Security Council. We were able to get the Syrian government to voluntarily and verifiably give up its chemical weapons stockpile.

    1. What the fuck are you still doing here, Comrade DinC? Shouldn't you be building a wall somewhere, or maybe suppressing votes for your masters?

      President Pussygrabbing Pervert Flim Flam consistently campaigned against doing anything in Syria, you fucking warped troll.

      Guess he decided that Hillary was right after all, right dickhead? Anymore propaganda you want to litter this progressive blog with?

      In a May 2016 interview on MSNBC, Mr. Trump said the United States had “bigger problems than Assad.” He added, “I would have stayed out of Syria and wouldn’t have fought so much for Assad, against Assad.”

      So emphatic was Mr. Trump’s stance on Syria that he disavowed the stance of his own running mate. After the October 2016 vice-presidential debate, when Mike Pence, then governor of Indiana, backed strikes against Mr. Assad, Mr. Trump stated, “I disagree.”

      In the general election, Mr. Trump repeatedly criticized Hillary Clinton and Mr. Obama for pushing for “immediate regime change in Syria.” Yet as even Mr. Trump noted in his statement on Tuesday, Mr. Obama did little to remove Mr. Assad.

      Mr. Trump also disparaged Mrs. Clinton’s campaign stances on Syria — she had denounced Russia’s intervention in the war and called for a no-fly zone — and Mr. Trump said numerous times that her policies would “lead to World War III.”

    2. DinC doesn't want to talk about Syria. He is busy advancing the part line about what an evildoer Susan Rice is. Distraction from Jared Kushner's lies on his security clearance forms and his meetings with Russians during the transition. But look over here, Susan Rice...

    3. Yes, but he's(?) so polite and doesn't fidget when he blows echo-chamber smoke up everybody's ass. You have to give him that, right maj?

    4. Suppose Dick Cheney had used wiretapped data that had been gathered by our spy agencies to get damaging info about the Obama Team. Would not that have been a horrendous abuse of power?

    5. Shorter D in C: "Don't look at that, look at this over here!!!"

    6. " Would not that have been a horrendous abuse of power?"
      It sure would have. Just as starting a war to make money (and not being able to account for a pallet of $9 Billion in cash) would be an abuse of power. Luckily, Dick Cheney has you, the Republican Party, and the entire corporate-owned MSM to sweep that abuse of power under the rug.
      What was your point, again?

  11. Posted by bob somerby on Thursday, April 06, 2017

    " In that passage, you see the instant reinvention of what Susan Rice actually said. Let's run through the highlighted statements:

    First, Schieffer made it sound like Rice denied that al Qaeda was involved. Plainly, that isn't what she said.

    He also introduced the confusion which would endlessly surround the term "spontaneous:"

    "Susan Rice says that the State Department thinks the attack was some sort of a spontaneous event," Schieffer said. What she'd actually said was substantially different. She'd actually said the State Department had no evidence supporting the claim that the attack had been preplanned for months. "

    New FOIA release: Obama admin knew immediately Benghazi was “direct breaching” terror attack, not “under cover of protest”

    " Earlier in the briefing, Kennedy also tells a staffer from the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that the attack was “semi-complex,” and later adds that it included “medium” weapons such as RPGs and/or mortars, indicating some significant planning. "

    Posted by bob somerby on Thursday, April 06, 2017

    " Rice's presentation was sensible and cautious. She stressed, on several occasions, that it was a preliminary assessment—that the official investigation had barely begun "

    Panetta: I Knew Right Away Benghazi Was a 'Terrorist Attack'

    "I didn't have any specific information, but the fact was: when you bring grenade launchers to a demonstration, there's something else going on," said Panetta. "And I just, from the very beginning, sensed that this was an attack -- this was a terrorist attack on our compound."

    CIA Knew Al Qaeda Involved in Benghazi from 'Get-go'

    “The analysts said from the get-go that al Qaeda was involved in this attack,” Morell said.

    The former CIA man was asked why, then, was “al Qaeda” edited out of the administration’s now infamous talking points.

    “The only way we knew that anybody who was involved in that attack that night was associated with al Qaeda was from classified sources,” Morell claimed.

    Minutes later he reiterated the point: “The only way we knew that some of the people who were involved in the attack that night were associated with al Qaeda was from classified sources.”

    According to Morell, if the CIA had included a reference to al Qaeda in the administration’s talking points, then it would have had to declassify that sensitive intelligence.


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