The opposition to the potential nomination of Ambassador Rice is rooted in Republican desperation to turn the tragedy in Benghazi into a scandal for the Obama administration. The Romney campaign was licking its chops at the prospect of attacking President Obama on Benghazi until facts stubbornly got in the way. Joe Scarborough decided to interrupt an entire broadcast and repeated the word "Benghazi" no fewer than 23 times on air. And now, Republicans have it in for Susan Rice, who, according to the previously mentioned letter, is too incompetent to head up the state department:
“Though Ambassador Rice has been our Representative to the U.N., we believe her misleading statements over the days and weeks following the attack on our embassy in Libya that led to the deaths of Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans caused irreparable damage to her credibility both at home and around the world,” the letter reads, later adding: “Ambassador Rice is widely viewed as having either willfully or incompetently misled the American public in the Benghazi affair.”The accusations of incompetence leveled against Rice derive from her appearance on Sunday morning talk shows, in which she attributed the incident at Benghazi to protests against a sacrilegious anti-Islam movie, rather than a premeditated attack. Rice, of course, was simply repeating the most current intelligence assessments available at the time, but that hasn't stopped Republicans in the House, as well as Republican Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham, from trying to stop any potential nomination of her in its tracks before it even gets started.
Legendary civil rights leader and current Congressman James Clyburn (D-S.C.) felt that the accusations against Rice smacked of racial dog whistles—and given the way Republicans have acted since President Obama was first elected, that argument certainly holds weight. However, I feel it is preferable to compare this situation to the last time a black woman with the last name of Rice was considered for an appointment as secretary of state.
Before becoming confirmed as secretary of state in September of 2005, Condoleezza Rice held the position of national security advisor under George W. Bush. She held that position during the attacks of September 11, 2001. The Presidential Daily Brief of August 6, 2001, was titled "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in US." Condoleezza Rice later testifed before the 9/11 Commission about this PDB, where she was grilled about the incompetence the security team of the Bush administration, of which she was a principal member, showed toward the threat of Al-Qaeda and Islamic terrorism:
ROEMER: Let me ask you a question. You just said that the intelligence coming in indicated a big, big, big threat. Something was going to happen very soon and be potentially catastrophic. I don't understand, given the big threat, why the big principals don't get together. The principals meet 33 times in seven months, on Iraq, on the Middle East, on missile defense, China, on Russia. Not once do the principals ever sit down -- you, in your job description as the national security advisor, the secretary of state, the secretary of defense, the president of the United States -- and meet solely on terrorism to discuss in the spring and the summer, when these threats are coming in, when you've known since the transition that Al Qaida cells are in the United States, when, as the PDB said on August, bin Laden determined to attack the United States. Why don't the principals at that point say, Let's all talk about this, let's get the biggest people together in our government and discuss what this threat is and try to get our bureaucracies responding to it?Sounds like incompetence to me. But this was the lesser of the sins of Condoleezza Rice. Remember that Dr. Rice was one of the main cheerleaders of the invasion of Iraq. She was the one who infamously said that the United States could not wait until the supposed "smoking gun" of Saddam Hussein's WMD program came in the form of a mushroom cloud. But Rice either was so grossly incompetent that she overlooked critical pieces of intelligence on Iraq's supposed pursuit of uranium, or she lied to the American people:
The remarks by Rice and her associates raise two uncomfortable possibilities for the national security adviser. Either she missed or overlooked numerous warnings from intelligence agencies seeking to put caveats on claims about Iraq's nuclear weapons program, or she made public claims that she knew to be false.To recap, the horrifying attacks of September 11 occurred on Condi Rice's watch, even though intelligence had been collected that specified that Osama Bin Laden was determined to attack inside the United States, seemingly in New York City, and apparently with an interest in hijacking airliners. She followed that up by either grossly overlooking critical intelligence about Iraq's nuclear program, or intentionally misleading our country and people into a financially and morally destructive war of choice.
Most prominent is her claim that the White House had not heard about CIA doubts about an allegation that Iraq sought uranium in Africa before the charge landed in Bush's State of the Union address on Jan. 28; in fact, her National Security Council staff received two memos doubting the claim and a phone call from CIA Director George J. Tenet months before the speech. Various other of Rice's public characterizations of intelligence documents and agencies' positions have been similarly cast into doubt.
And yet, on January 26, 2005, Condoleezza Rice was confirmed by the Senate by a vote of 85-13. Voting in favor? Lindsey Graham, as well as John McCain. Why? Because they, like so many of their Republican colleagues, are nothing more than hypocrites who believe that their past actions and statements can simply slip down the memory hole without anyone remembering.