And yet another GOP attack line on Benghazi and Susan Rice bites the dust. After the closed door meeting she and other GOP senators had with Rice on Wednesday, Sen. Susan Collins opened a new line of attack on Rice by questioning what role she had to play in the Al-Qaeda bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Somalia in 1998, when Rice was serving as assistant secretary of state for African affairs in the Clinton administration:
She said, "What troubles me so much is the Benghazi attack in many ways echoes the attacks on our embassies in 1998, when Susan Rice was head of the African region for our State Department. In both cases the ambassadors begged for additional security" but she said, as with the Sept. 11 attacks on the consulate in Benghazi, those requests were turned down by the State Department.
Collins said that Rice told her "she would have to refresh her memory of the 1998 events and that she was not directly involved in turning down the request for embassy ssecurity in 1998.
But Collins seemed dissatisfied with Rice's response, saying, "Surely given her position as the assistant secretary for African affairs, she had to be aware of the general threat assessment and of the ambassadors' repeated requests for more security."
It was a very disappointing move by Collins, who had previously been hesitant to criticize Rice, but I guess the peer pressure from John McCain and his fellow stooges got to her. And true to form, her theories turn to be a big pile of nothing. As the Huffington Post reports:
Members of an outside review board that investigated the 1998 terrorist bombings at two U.S. embassies in Africa told The Huffington Post on Thursday that they didn't recall any direct role that Susan Rice, then a State Department official focused on Africa, had played in the failure to prevent the attacks.Whoops.
"I don't remember any inference or allegation that Susan Rice had been negligent," said Philip Wilcox, the president of the Foundation for Middle East Peace and a member of the review board created by the State Department.
A little back story. The Accountability Review Board, which was formed by the State Department in late 1998 to investigate the bombing, concluded that despite heightened security concerns, there were "no intelligence reports immediately before the bombing" that could have warned of an attack. As for Rice's role:
Rice was interviewed for the review board investigation, although her name never appeared in its final report. Instead, the report focuses on officals in diplomatic security and State Department management, who were respeonsible for responding to [U.S ambassador to Kenya Prudence] Bushell's requests.So I guess the new GOP conspiracy theory of Rice being a Al-Qaeda sleeper agent working for decades to destroy our embassies one by one from within the State Department is a no-go. And Collins is already backpedling:
Bonnie Cohen, the undersecretary of satte for management at the time, told HuffPost on Thursday that she didn't recall any specific role played by Rice, whose job was focused more on politics and policy.
"I think if you look at the organizational chart, it makes it pretty clear where the responsibility lies," Cohen said.
Ultimately, the review board faulted what it called "systemic and institutional failures in Washington" and concluded that "no employee of the U.S. government" has "breached his or her responsiblity."
Kevin Kelly, a spokesman for Sen. Collins, said Thursday that the senator had no specific reason for believing Rice had failed in her duties in the late 1990s, but simply wanted to hear more from Rice about the role she had played.That's it? That's what you're complaining about now? This doesn't even qualify as "petty."
"Given Ambassador Rice's position in the State Department at the time, she had to be aware of the requests for increased security at the embassies and that those requests had been turned down," Kelley said.
The GOP bitching about Benghazi and Rice just gets more and more ridiculous by the day. And God knows what's still to come. What'll happen when she finally gets nominated?