Tate Zeigler (202-224-5972) or Kevin Bishop (864-250-1417)
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators John McCain (R-Arizona), Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina), Kelly Ayotte (R-New Hampshire) and Ron Johnson (R-Wisconsin) sent a letter to U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice seeking clarification on her statements that the September 11 terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya was the result of a “spontaneous reaction.” The evidence clearly shows the attack that resulted in the death of four Americans including Ambassador Chris Stevens was planned and coordinated.
“In the aftermath of the September 11 terrorist attack in Benghazi that resulted in the death of four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens, you made several troubling statements that are inconsistent with the facts and require explanation,” the Senators wrote. “We look forward to a timely response that explains how the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations could characterize an attack on a U.S. consulate so inaccurately five days after a terrorist attack that killed four Americans.”
Full text of the letter is below:
September 25, 2012
Ambassador Susan Rice
United States Mission to the United Nations
799 United Nations Plaza
New York, N.Y. 10017-3505
Dear Ambassador Rice:
In the aftermath of the September 11 terrorist attack in Benghazi that resulted in the death of four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens, you made several troubling statements that are inconsistent with the facts and require explanation.
Speaking on Meet the Press on September 16, you said, “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.” Speaking on Fox News Sunday, you said, “We are of the view that this is not an expression of hostility in the broader sense toward the United States or U.S. policy. It's approximately a reaction to this video...” On September 14, the Libyan President, Mohamed Yousef el Magariaf, said the attack on our consulate in Benghazi was “preplanned.” Two days later and immediately before your interview on CBS’s Face the Nation, the Libyan President reiterated that the attack was planned “a few months ago.” When you followed the Libyan President on this same program, the host confronted you with the discrepancy between your comments and the comments of the Libyan President. You again described the attacks as “spontaneous” and said the attacks were not “preplanned”.
By the date of your comments, it was already clear that the attack in Libya was a terrorist attack, and that heavily armed and well trained attackers appeared to have prepared for an opportunity to attack U.S. interests. We also knew that there is a significant network of al Qaeda affiliated groups and other terrorists in eastern Libya, some of whom have attacked western interests in the last few months. Yet, you repeatedly asserted the implausible explanation that the attack in Benghazi was a spontaneous reaction to the video despite growing evidence to the contrary.
Before your appearance on a number of Sunday shows, we also knew that Ayman al Zawahiri, the head of al Qaeda, released a video just before the attacks acknowledging and eulogizing the death of Abu Yahya al Libi and calling for terrorist attacks. As you know, al Libi was a Libyan who served as the second in command in al Qaeda under al Zawahiri and was a top leader in the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group. The U.S. killed al Libi in a drone strike in North Waziristan, Pakistan, in June 2012.
You were surely aware of these facts on September 16 when you made your remarks. Yet, these facts, including the unlikely coincidence that the attack was conducted on the anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks, did not prevent you from making confident and counterintuitive assertions to the contrary. These facts did not prevent you from labeling the murder of four Americans as a “spontaneous reaction” to the video and “not an expression of hostility…toward the United States.” If the murder of four American diplomats is not “an expression of hostility” it is difficult to know what would be.
We look forward to a timely response that explains how the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations could characterize an attack on a U.S. consulate so inaccurately five days after a terrorist attack that killed four Americans.
Kelly AyotteRon Johnson