In this photo released by the United Nations, Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, addresses the U.N. Security Council prior to voting on a resolution condemning Israeli settlement activity, Friday, Feb. 18, 2011, at the United Nations headquarters. Rice vetoed the draft resolution that would have condemned “illegal” Israeli settlements and demanded an immediate halt to all settlement building. (AP Photo/The United Nations, John McIlwaine)
On Thursday, well-respected U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice (pictured) announced that she is stepping down from her run for secretary of state, according to NBC News.
In a letter to President Barack Obama, Rice voiced concern over an unnecessary and prolonged vetting due to the incessant criticism she experienced over the Benghazi, Libya, incident:
“If nominated, I am now convinced that the confirmation process would be lengthy, disruptive and costly – to you and to our most pressing national and international priorities.
“That trade-off is simply not worth it to our country…. Therefore, I respectfully request that you no longer consider my candidacy at this time.”
On September 11th, an attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi caused the deaths of U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans. Initially, Rice said in an interview with “Meet the Press” that the attacks were linked to an American anti-Muslim video that had gone viral:
“What happened in Benghazi was in fact initially a spontaneous reaction to what had just transpired hours before in Cairo, almost a copycat of the demonstrations against our facility in Cairo, which were prompted, of course, by the video.
“Opportunistic extremist elements came to the consulate as this was unfolding. They came with heavy weapons, which unfortunately are readily available in post-revolutionary Libya, and it escalated into a much more violent episode.”
While Rice was just reporting on the intelligence she was provided at the time, Republicans — eager to gain an edge during the 2012 presidential election against President Obama — upbraided Rice for misrepresenting the Benghazi incident as a backlash to the video as opposed to a full-on premeditated terrorist attack.
On November 21, Rice would maintain at the United Nations that the information she shared with the public was indeed the intelligence she was provided at the time, “I relied solely and squarely on the information provided to me by the intelligence community. I made clear that the information was preliminary and that our investigations would give us the definitive answers.”
Still, Republicans used the attack to drive their point home that President Obama and his administration were weak in foreign policy, with Rice morphing into the whipping boy.
Even though President Obama and incumbent Secretary of State Hillary Clinton would rush to Rice’s defense, with the President defiantly stating, “If Sen. [John] McCain and Sen. [Lindsey] Graham and others want to go after somebody, they should go after me. When they go after the U.N. ambassador apparently because they think she’s an easy target, then they’ve got a problem with me.”
Still, Republicans, such as Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), continued to criticize Rice, complaining that they preferred for “someone of independence” to get the secretary position as opposed to someone who is loyal to the President.
Clear about the “politicization” of her position, Rice called her treatment “an irresponsible distraction,” “The position of secretary of state should never be politicized,” she wrote, adding, “I’m saddened that we have reached this point, even before you have decided whom to nominate. We cannot afford such an irresponsible distraction from the most pressing issues facing the American people.”
Rice, highly respected by her peers, is the first African-American woman to serve as a UN Ambassador. Before her current position, Rice served former President Bill Clinton as an assistant secretary of state for African affairs. Before Republicans decided to demonize her, she was considered the frontrunner for the position.