97 House Republicans Warn Obama Against Nominating Susan Rice to Secretary of State

By Fred Lucas | November 19, 2012 | 5:14 PM EST


FILE - This June 7, 2012 file photo shows U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice listening during a news conference at the UN. Republican senators' angry criticism of Rice over her initial account of the deadly Sept. 11 attack in Libya smacks of sexism and racism, a dozen female members of the House said Friday. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

(CNSNews.com) – After President Barack Obama’s defiant defense of United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice last week, 97 House Republicans have sent the president a letter warning him against nominating Rice to be the next U.S. secretary of state.

Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.), along with 96 of his colleagues, released the letter on Monday, which cites misleading statements Rice made on the Benghazi attack on behalf of the Obama administration.

The objections are based on Rice’s insistence in five TV interview that the terrorist attack on the facility in Benghazi, Libya, was the result of a spontaneous demonstration over a YouTube video which depicted the Prophet Muhammad.

“In her interviews over that time, Ambassador Rice propagated a falsehood that the attacks were ‘spontaneous,’ the outcome of a protest ‘spun out of control,’ and the result of a YouTube video,” the letter says. “Only on Sept. 19 – eight days after the attack – did the American people learn from National Counterterrorism Director Matthew Olsen that the intelligence services quickly considered the attack an act of terrorism and that al Qaeda may have played a role.

“Ambassador Rice is widely viewed as having either willfully or incompetently misled the American public in the Benghazi matter,” the letter goes on to say. “Her actions plausibly give U.S. allies (and rivals) abroad reason to question U.S. commitment and credibility when needed. Thus, we believe that making her the face of U.S. foreign policy in your second term would generally undermine your desire to improve U.S. relations with the world and continue to build trust with the American people.”

Whoever Obama nominates to be Secretary of State, only the Senate will have the authority to confirm.

The attack on the Benghazi compound killed four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens.

On Wednesday, Republican Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) questioned whether Rice should be nominated to run the State Department given that she made misleading statements.

Later that same day Obama rushed to her defense.

“Well, first of all, I’m not going to comment at this point on various nominations that I’ll put forward to fill out my Cabinet for the second term. Those are things that are still being discussed,” Obama said. “But let me say specifically about Susan Rice, she has done exemplary work. She has represented the United States and our interests in the United Nations with skill and professionalism and toughness and grace.

“As I’ve said before, she made an appearance at the request of the White House in which she gave her best understanding of the intelligence that had been provided to her,” Obama continued.

“If Sen. McCain and Sen. Graham and others want to go after somebody, they should go after me and I’m happy to have that discussion with them.  But for them to go after the U.N. Ambassador, who had nothing to do with Benghazi, and was simply making a presentation based on intelligence that she had received, and to besmirch her reputation is outrageous.”