Susan Rice Taking Over as National Security Advisor Despite Benghazi Mess

Bebeto Matthews/AP file photo

President Obama will elevate U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice to national security advisor -- a post currently held by Tom Donilon, who will resign -- despite Republican fury over her mischaracterization of the fatal attacks on American diplomats in Benghazi. 

Obama plans to make the announcement this afternoon, according to various news outlets. Rice's candidacy to replace Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State evaporated over the Benghazi scandal. Here's how The New York Times put it:

At the United Nations, Ms. Rice earned good reviews for lining up balky members behind sanctions on North Korea and Iran. After Mr. Obama's re-election, she was seen as a prime candidate to replace Mrs. Clinton. But that was before she appeared on television to discuss the attack in Benghazi, which killed four Americans, including Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens.

Ms. Rice, using talking points supplied by the White House, said the assault appeared to be a protest gone awry rather than a premeditated terrorist attack. That proved incorrect, and though Ms. Rice cautioned that the account could change with further intelligence, Republicans accused her of sanitizing the truth for political reasons.

The plan to replace Donilon with Rice has been in the works for some time. Donilon, who had said he planned to step down after Obama's first term, has been an influential part of Obama's inner circle, amassing "enormous internal control," according to a recent unflattering profile in Foreign Policy. That power didn't come without controversy, according to the profile's author:

Over the past half year, several present and former administration officials have urged this reporter to examine the powerful role Donilon plays as national security advisor, the extraordinarily tight leash he holds over the foreign-policy apparatus, his demanding treatment of staff, and the way he allegedly undercuts or elbows aside challenges to his power. Despite his prominent place at the center of Obama's foreign-policy operation, few news outlets have profiled Donilon, who generally prefers to operate behind closed doors.

Rice's promotion could provoke Republican ire, but unlike Secretary of State, the position of national security advisor isn't subject to Senate confirmation.

Samantha Power, a former National Security Council official in Obama's White House, will replace Rice at the U.N.

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