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US Ambassador Susan Rice Defends Her Initial Comments on Benghazi Attack

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"I made clear that the information was preliminary, and that our investigations would give us the definitive answers."

In this image provided by CBS, Susan Rice, U.S. ambassador to the U.N. speaks on "Face the Nation" in Washington, Sunday, Sept. 16, 2012. A deadly assault on a U.S. consulate in Libya was a spontaneous reaction to an anti-Muslim video, the Rice said Sunday, even as Libya's president insisted the attackers spent months preparing and carefully choosing their date - the anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Credit: AP

FILE - This Aug. 30, 2012 file photo shows US United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice speaking at the United Nations. Republicans lashed out at President Barack Obama and senior administration officials over their evolving description of the deadly Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. consulate in Libya, a late campaign-season broadside challenging the veracity and leadership of an incumbent on the upswing. (Credit: AP)

UNITED NATIONS (AP) -- U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice says her early account of the attack that killed the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three other Americans in Benghazi was based on the initial intelligence community assessments and was always subject to review and updates.

She said she respects Republican Sen. John McCain, who has been critical of her, but says "some of the statements he's made about me have been unfounded, but I look forward to having the opportunity at the appropriate time to discuss all of this with him."

Her comments attributing the attacks to a mob enraged over an anti-Muslim video posted on YouTube were widely denounced by Republicans during the U.S. presidential campaign. The attack came on the 11th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks on the United States, and her critics said it was clearly a terrorist attack aimed at the anniversary.

The focus has fallen on her because she is a longtime White House insider and is believed to be President Barack Obama's first choice to replace Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who is not expected to stay on during his second term.

Rice told reporters outside the U.N. Security Council that "As a senior U.S. diplomat, I agreed to a White House request to appear on the Sunday shows to talk about the full range of national security issues of the day, which at that time were primarily and particularly the protests that were enveloping and threatening many diplomatic facilities, American diplomatic facilities around the world, and Iran's nuclear program."

Hours before the Benghazi violence, a mob in Cairo attacked the U.S. Embassy there to denounce the videos as anti-Islamic blasphemy.

Rice said "the attack on our facilities in Benghazi was obviously a significant piece of this" pattern.

"When discussing he attack against our facilities in Benghazi, I relied solely and squarely on the information provided to me by the intelligence community," she said.

"I made clear that the information was preliminary, and that our investigations would give us the definitive answers," she added.

 

Featured image via AP/CBS News, Chris Usher

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