Susan Rice: On second thought, there was no protest before the Benghazi attack

Does this mean it’s no longer racist to oppose her nomination as Secretary of State? Or, since she’s now admitting her mistake, does this mean it’s really racist to oppose her nomination as Secretary of State?

I’m sure the left will tell us when the time is right.

Today, Acting CIA Director Michael Morell and I met with Senators McCain, Graham, and Ayotte to discuss my September 16th public comments regarding the attack against the U.S. facilities in Benghazi, Libya, and the intelligence assessments that formed the basis for those comments. I appreciated the opportunity to discuss these issues directly and constructively with them.

In the course of the meeting, we explained that the talking points provided by the intelligence community, and the initial assessment upon which they were based, were incorrect in a key respect: there was no protest or demonstration in Benghazi. While we certainly wish that we had had perfect information just days after the terrorist attack, as is often the case, the intelligence assessment has evolved. We stressed that neither I nor anyone else in the Administration intended to mislead the American people at any stage in this process, and the Administration updated Congress and the American people as our assessments evolved.

The Administration remains committed to working closely with Congress as we thoroughly investigate the terrorist attack in Benghazi and bring to justice the terrorists responsible for the tragic deaths of our colleagues, Ambassador Chris Stevens, Sean Smith, Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods. We also look forward to the findings of the Accountability Review Board and the FBI investigation.

The White House press corps got Carney to say the magic words this afternoon too. For what it’s worth, Rice’s statement does jibe with what U.S. intel officials told the Wall Street Journal last month about what she knew and when. If you believe them, the first intelligence inklings that the whole “protest” storyline was crapola came on the evening of Saturday, September 15th, hours before Rice appeared on the Sunday shows to talk Benghazi. That Sunday morning, while she was making the rounds on TV, they collected more intel further debunking the protest claims. But then that raises other questions, which the Journal framed at the time:

Unanswered in the account is whose role it was to prevent Ms. Rice from broadcasting information that already risked being wrong. Also unanswered is why it took longer for the new information to come out publicly, even after the DNI revised its assessment.

Let me throw another one at you. Why was U.S. intelligence still leaning towards the protest theory on Sunday, September 16th, when a Libyan guard who was wounded in the consulate attack had already told McClatchy three days earlier that there had never been any protest? All they had to do was read the newspaper that Friday to realize the narrative they were handing Rice was in doubt. And here’s a fourth question, which I believe remains unanswered even now: How did the idea that there had been a protest over the Mohammed movie at the consulate get started in the first place? Was it just a matter of U.S. intel officials watching what happened in Cairo and blindly leaping to the conclusion that the same thing must have happened in Benghazi or was there actual circumstantial evidence of a protest at some point? The only evidence I’ve heard of after months of reading about this came from an AP story on October 27, in which an eyewitness claimed that one of the jihadis at the scene had pressured bystanders to chant about the movie while his crew was busy setting up roadblocks for the attack. The “spontaneous protest,” in other words, was propaganda manufactured by terrorists at the scene as the plot was being put in motion, but maybe the CIA heard about the chanting from another eyewitness and hadn’t yet figured out who was behind it when Rice was briefed. Is that the explanation? Or, as I say, was this pure half-assed guesswork early on, which they nonetheless dutifully passed along to Susan Rice for dissemination on America’s news shows?

Anyway, there are lots of reasons not to want her as Secretary of State even if you think her main failing in the Benghazi affair was being too willing to believe what the CIA was feeding her. Exit quotation from Dan McLaughlin:

Update: Jay Carney’s sick and tired of Obama’s flacks and mouthpieces being beaten up by the press, darn it:

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney grew testy with reporters Tuesday over questions about UN Ambassador Susan Rice’s role in the aftermath of the Benghazi attack.

“What is the point of the focus on this,” Carney asked of questions about Rice’s comments on the five Sunday shows days after the September 11, 2012 attack that killed four Americans signaling it was a spontaneous event. “It could have been me. We all relied on information from the intelligence community.”…

“What your question seems to suggest is that it is more important that I or others used talking points provided by the intelligence community than actually what happened in Benghazi,” Carney said.

Over in the Greenroom, Duane Patterson has some questions for the administration’s much-maligned spokespeople.