Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) lobbed the criticism on Wednesday saying that the Benghazi attack “echoes the attacks on those embassies in 1998,” and that Rice “was head of the African region for our State Department. In both cases the ambassadors begged for additional security.”
But Rivera, who said he covered the attack in Kenya at the time, said that assessment is off the mark:
RIVERA: I think though to blame Susan Rice is kind of like blaming FEMA for 9/11. There is an undersecretary of state who is in charge of facilities and that is the group that deemed the terrorist threat there to be medium: it really wasn’t Susan Rice. It’s like scapegoating Susan is the affliction that’s sweeping Washington right now.
Watch Geraldo’s remarks here:
Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) joined in the new attack shortly after Collins’ statement, telling MSNBC that Rice needed to answer “questions” about her role in protecting the embassies. But two officials from a board that Huffington Post says investigated the 1998 terrorist bombings said that Rice had nothing to do with embassy security at the time. One official said, “I don’t remember any inference or allegation that Susan Rice had been negligent.” Yesterday, Mother Jones tracked down the State Department Accountability Review Board’s reports of both bombings and came to a similar conclusion:
“The reports noted numerous security failures and oversights that preceded the bombings. But they don’t back up Collins’ characterization. Neither mentions Rice, who was a policy person who would not be in charge of embassy or security operations. The report on the Tanzania attack says nothing about the US ambassador there begging for additional security. It notes that “the security systems and security procedures” at the embassy “were in accord with, and in some ways exceeded, Department of State standards for overseas posts assessed as having a ‘low’ threat rating for political violence and terrorism.”
Republicans, led by Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), have been trying to deligitimize Rice in anticipation of her Secretary of State nomination and the attempt to link the 1998 U.S. embassy bombings to Benghazi and Rice is just the latest baseless salvo.
Collins said she asked about the 1998 embassy bombings in her meeting with Rice this week but was disappointed that Rice said “she wasn’t expecting a question on that and that she would have to refresh her memory and go back and think about it.” Of course, it’s perfectly reasonable that Rice wasn’t prepared for the question, as the topic has nothing to do with her role in disseminating the intelligence community’s talking points on Benghazi.