Rep. Michael Burgess (R-TX) appeared on CNN Wednesday morning to press his case against U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice, the target of Republican criticism for initially claiming that the Sept. 11 attacks on Benghazi were inspired by spontaneous protests to an anti-Islamic video. Burgess joined 97 House Republicans in opposing Rice’s potential nomination to replace Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State, even though her public statements about the incident originated from unclassified talking points provided by the intelligence community.
Host Soledad O’Brien challenged Burgess’ opposition to Susan Rice, noting that Republicans had supported Condoleezza Rice’s nomination as Secretary of State in 2005, despite the Bush administration’s role in the massive intelligence failures that led to the Iraq war. Burgess struggled to explain the contradiction. He initially claimed that the media was far more critical of Bush’s intelligence failures than Obama, but when O’Brien laughed away that claim, he told her to take up the question with Sens. John McCain (R-AZ) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC), both of whom supported Condoleezza but now oppose Susan:
O’BRIEN: I have asked others before how this does not compare, the Susan Rice issue, to the Condoleezza Rice issue on weapons of mass destruction. She was also wrong when she was the national security adviser, right? … Fast forward three years in 2005 when she was up to be secretary of state, it was Lindsey Graham who was furious that the Democrats were pushing back. It was Sen John mccain who were furious that the Democrats were pushing back on Condoleezza Rice to be Secretary of State. She was wrong on weapons of mass destruction. How is this different?
BURGESS: The difference is the scrutiny provided by our free press in this country. Condoleezza Rice was exposed to withering criticism by the press. I don’t see that happening now. Maybe I’ve missed something in the talking points, but I don’t see that happening. ….
O’BRIEN: So you’re confusing me there for a moment. When you say the scrutiny on the press — are you saying five days after comments of weapons of mass destruction, you feel like the media was picking apart Condoleezza Rice? I don’t think that’s true, Sir. Most people say that’s not the case. It took a long time. …. Hey, I’m all about scrutiny. I guess I like consistency, too. You were not calling for more scrutiny and you weren’t saying that the fact that Condoleezza Rice was wrong on weapons of mass destruction was going to damage her credibility as secretary of state. Again, McCain and Lindsey Graham were supporting that. It seems contradictory to me.
BURGESS: You’ll have to take that up with Senator McCain and Senator Graham.
Indeed, the media largely accepted Bush’s argument that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction and rarely aired dissident voices or challenged the administration’s allegations.
The very same Republicans who advanced these false claims and remained silent after it became obvious that the Bush administration molded intelligence to substantiate war with Iraq, are now criticizing Susan Rice’s performance. The Obama administration has changed its assessment of the events that led up to the Libya incident as the intelligence evolved.