White House hiding Rice role in Syria outreach?
posted at 3:22 pm on August 28, 2013 by Ed Morrissey
My friend Olivier Knox points out a curious omission (Olivier calls it “maddening”) from the White House’s data on their diplomacy in dealing with the chemical-weapons attack in Syria. Susan Rice, who had conducted public diplomacy as the administration’s UN ambassador for more than four years, has moved to the national-security adviser position this month. She has been active in conducting diplomacy, but the White House won’t account for her calls:
Rice has been at the very center of the American response and has been placing calls to foreign officials, an aide confirmed. They just aren’t being cataloged and released to the press.
It’s nothing sinister: The administration just generally doesn’t read out her calls, much as they did not read out predecessor Tom Donilon’s calls.
But the decision to leave her outreach out of a White House-released list of calls that President Barack Obama and senior national security aides placed to their foreign counterparts is one reason it’s impossible to use the list to get a clear picture of the U.S. response. The other reason is that the National Security Council quite forthrightly described the list as accurate, but incomplete — that there have been other phone calls “at all levels” that are not included.
This looks more like protocol than malice, but it’s still odd. Donilon rarely discussed matters publicly as Obama’s national-security adviser, although he had a long track record at the State Department as a negotiator and adviser. Rice, on the other hand, has a longer track record as a public face for Obama’s foreign policy, and certainly as a diplomat. Why not highlight Rice’s role in the efforts to craft a coalition to support intervention in the Syrian conflict? Or does the White House worry that the Benghazi debacle that they hung around her neck is a liability to their credibility now?