Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice stopped by The Daily Show Thursday for a longer-form interview with host Jon Stewart. Stewart pressed Rice on her connection to the dissemination of information in the weeks following the attacks on the American consulate in Benghazi, Libya. The controversy effectively prevented Rice from becoming Secretary of State.
On the show, Rice detailed to Stewart the immediate and medium-term reaction from the State Department to the attacks, including explaining the department’s Acccountability Review Board, whose report came down in December. Rice explained some of the information she received in the wake of the Benghazi attack, saying she was “prepared” to go on the Sunday talk shows, using talking points from the intelligence community. Rice told Stewart that she “shared the best information that our intelligence community had at the time,” but that “they were wrong in one respect,” referring to the claims that the attacks involved people protesting an anti-Islamic film. Rice added “In every other respect they have more or less held up over time,” about the intelligence community’s information.
Citing “more than 10,000” documents provided” and “10 briefings of members and staff,” Rice took on congressional critics, saying the Obama administration has given them “ample opportunities for them to understand what’s going on." When Stewart pressed about the “great deal of confusion” surrounding the attacks, Rice slammed members of Congress for making the issue so “politicized.”
“There’s always confusion,” she told him, “The bigger tragedy, though, Jon, is that we’ve spent all of these months trying to figure out the origin of some talking points which were cleared at the highest levels of the intelligence community, in my opinion, not enough time doing the service to be owed to our fallen colleagues who have been lost.”
Rice also lauded foreign service officers in the interview, saying “we have brave men and women serving in our diplomatic posts all over the world.” Defending her department, Rice said “folks were doing their very best with what they had and it wasn’t good enough in the circumstances” and said State is “committed to implementing every one of” the Accountability Review Board report’s recommendations.
Taking the opportunity of having a high-level diplomat on his show, Stewart also asked Rice about North Korea’s recent nuclear test and the power of sanctions. Because of the time limits for broadcast, The Daily Show posted an extended interview online. Watch it below.