Hypocrisy alert: John McCain supported Condoleeza Rice who misled the public on WMD, causing thousands to die, but now attacks Susan Rice.
Remember when Condoleezza Rice misled the public about Iraq’s WMDs and over 4,000 Americans died? John McCain doesn’t seem to. McCain is trying to sell the idea that Susan Rice appearing on TV to tell the American people what the intelligence community had ascertained about Libya on September 18 was wrong. She should have chosen not to speak on the subject without more certainty, he and Lindsay Graham claim.
Yet, Susan Rice’s statement made it clear that things were not certain. Here, once again, is her statement to the media on September 18 (emphasis mine):
RICE: Well, first of all, Chris, we are obviously investigating this very closely. The FBI has a lead in this investigation. The information, the best information and the best assessment we have today is that in fact this was not a preplanned, premeditated attack… Obviously, we will wait for the results of the investigation and we don’t want to jump to conclusions before then. But I do think it’s important for the American people to know our best current assessment.
Later, when the intelligence community updated their information, we learned that perhaps things didn’t go down as they first thought. Here’s a shocker for Republicans: Now there are reports saying that it might have had something to do with the video after all. The lesson here is that it takes time to gather the information. The Obama administration wanted to give the public the information it had on that date in September, and they continued to update us as they learned more. You can’t know what you don’t know yet. This is not hard to understand.
What is hard to understand is that as National Security Adviser, Condoleezza Rice made a public case for the Iraq war based on what was misleading information. John McCain later supported her confirmation as Secretary of State in 2005 and said that anyone who questioned her integrity did so for political reasons. McCain lectured, “We can disagree on policy and we disagree on a lot of things, but I think it is very clear that Condoleezza Rice is a person of integrity. And yes, I see this, some lingering bitterness over a very tough campaign.” Oh, do tell, Senator.
Back in 2002, Bush officials made the rounds on TV to claim that Iraq was accumulating high-strength aluminum tubes. Condoleezza Rice said the tubes “are only really suited for nuclear weapons programs, centrifuge programs.” Rice told CNN, “We don’t want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud.”
There was no proof that Iraq had nuclear weapons and there was, in fact, intelligence to the contrary.
Here is Condoleezza Rice making the case for war with Iraq September 8, 2002:
BLITZER: Dr. Rice, is there any hard evidence directly linking the Iraqi government to al Qaeda and the 9/11 terror attacks against the United States?
RICE: There is certainly evidence that al Qaeda people have been in Iraq. There is certainly evidence that Saddam Hussein cavorts with terrorists… We know that he is acquiring weapons of mass destruction, that he has extreme animous against the United States.
Republicans now claim that everyone thought the intelligence case was strong against Iraq, but that’s not accurate. There are numerous accounts of analysts who disagreed, and even a former chief of the CIA’s Europe division told 60 Minutes that CIA Director George Tenet had reported to Rice and other administration officials that Iraq had no active weapons of mass destruction program, courtesy of Iraq’s foreign minister (who agreed to act as a spy for the United States).
Thousands died in the Iraq War, and McCain was behind Condoleezza Rice’s nomination, but McCain has a problem with Susan Rice repeating to the public what our intelligence knew at the time regarding the attacks that tragically killed four Americans in Libya. Republicans claim that they believe that the administration knew otherwise, however, they have offered no proof of this.
Even if they had proof, according to their own standards, deliberately misleading the American people is an act of integrity. Republicans are still denying that they misled us on Iraq, so their word should be worthless at this point. But that won’t stop the Sunday shows from carrying water for McCain and Graham as they drop their innuendo and vague suggestions that no one should say anything about anything until they know for sure what happened. Taking them at their own logic, then why are they speaking now, when they do not know that the administration knew anything different from what we were told?
Perhaps Republicans are just resentful that Obama wasn’t caught frozen in his seat reading The Pet Goat for seven minutes as we were attacked on September 11, 2001, after ignoring the intel that just such an attack was imminent.
Only a Republican would suggest that it is feasible to know immediately what happened in Libya, because Republicans don’t seem to bother gathering facts before determining their narrative. Yes, it’s much easier when your administration tells the Intelligence community what they want to hear, and then makes the rounds on TV distributing the talking point that if we wait for information, a mushroom cloud will decide for us. This suffices for “being sure” Republican style; aka, being dead wrong.
Ms. Jones is the co-founder/ editor-in-chief of PoliticusUSA and a member of the White House press pool.
Sarah hosts Politicus News and co-hosts Politicus Radio. Her analysis has been featured on several national radio, television news programs and talk shows, and print outlets including Stateside with David Shuster, as well as The Washington Post, The Atlantic Wire, CNN, MSNBC, The Week, The Hollywood Reporter, and more.
Sarah is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.