Gelb, Leslie H., Newsweek
Byline: Leslie H. Gelb
A diplomat under fire.
With the presidential campaign drowning in boredom, commentators were desperately searching for news, preferably a new victim, to brighten their days. And along came Susan Rice. A couple Sundays ago, the U.N. ambassador made the mistake of appearing on the talk shows to insist that the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, was "spontaneous" rather than a terrorist plot. You would have thought she had said that the pope was a Mormon.
Out came the Washington daggers. She lied. She was a shill. Benghazi was no spontaneous event. It was the work of an al Qaeda offshoot. The White House had fumbled key intelligence information and was now trying to cover up its unforgivable mistake. Rice was just covering up for the president. Her reward would be Obama's nominating her to succeed Hillary Clinton as secretary of State.
The commentariat immediately rolled out plans to nail Rice and the Obama team to the wall. Peter King, the Grand Inquisitor of the Republicans in the House of Representatives, pledged to "investigate" and hold hearings. And that, said the commentariat, would be the end of Rice's hopes to become the new Hillary.
Now, let's take an unfashionable step back and examine the facts, such as they are. Rice did not make up the "spontaneous" story or have it handed to her by White House conspirators. She got it from the same daily intelligence brief given to the president. Those daily intel reports told the very story Rice repeated publicly, i. …