Face in the News: Gaza, McCain & Durbin on Rice, Snowe
This Sunday on "Face the Nation," Senator John McCain, R-Ariz., defended his critique of UN Ambassador Susan Rice's statements on Benghazi this week, reasserting that Rice "has a lot of explaining to do."
Ambassador Rice appeared on "Face the Nation" following the September 11th Benghazi attacks, stating that the attacks that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans "began spontaneously," and that evidence didn't indicate a terrorist attack.
McCain questioned Rice's qualifications as a candidate to succeed Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State. But he did offer the Ambassador a way forward, suggesting she could start proving herself to McCain and others "by publicly coming back on this show and saying, 'I was wrong, I gave the wrong information on your show several weeks ago.'" Senator McCain also addressed President Obama's spirited defense of Susan Rice in a White House press conference last Wednesday, McCain said, "I wish the president wouldn't get mad at me. I wish he would spend our time together in finding out what happened, what caused it, and what we need - four brave Americans died. Their families and Americans deserve to know and how do we prevent a future occurrence?"
Despite his hesitations and questions about Rice, McCain said he'd afford "all nominees the benefit of the hearing process."
Senator McCain also addressed the escalating Israel-Palestine conflict, following reports from CBS News correspondents Alan Pizzy and Charlie D'Agata who were on the ground in Israel and Gaza. McCain warned that "Al Qaeda is on the comeback," and that, "You look at the whole Middle East and it has been a significant failure," with respect to US policy. He then underlined that the US had a critical interest in the ongoing conflict, stating emphatically, "the United States should be as heavily involved as they possibly can."
The Arizona Senator suggested ideas for helping with negotiations. He said, "I'd find someone even as high-ranking, frankly, as former president Bill Clinton to go and be the negotiator. I know he'd hate me for saying that, but we need a person of enormous prestige and influence to have these parties sit down together as an honest broker."
Bob Schieffer then spoke with Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin, D-Ill. Durbin was quick to defend Rice's appearances on the Sunday shows, arguing, "To say that she has to be held accountable because an intelligence agency didn't tell the whole story initially, for reasons of national security, is totally unfair." Senator Durbin pointed out that Republican Senators McCain and Lindsey Graham both defended Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice when she drew fire for her testimony regarding Iraq's development of weapons of mass destruction, criticizing them for holding Ambassador Susan Rice, "to an entirely different standard."
Durbin then called for more information regarding Benghazi, warning that jumping to conclusions would be hasty and dangerous. Said Durbin, "We'll be able to make America safer and keep those who represent our country in dangerous places safer if we take an honest and objective view of what happened in Benghazi."
Following Senator Durbin, outgoing Senator Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, appeared. A member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Snowe expressed alarm at the events following the Benghazi attack. "What is most disturbing, in my estimation, is the discrepancy about those talking points and the reality that existed on the ground, and why the administration wasn't able to get the information in a more accurate picture," said Snowe. "It took seventeen days for the Director of National Intelligence even to issue a statement to say that it was a deliberate and organized terrorist attack. That's unacceptable in today's environment."
Senator Snowe then reflected on her 34 years of experience in public office, and what prompted her retirement from the Senate. Snowe, a notorious moderate Republican famous for reaching across the aisle, lamented the state of Congress today, stating, "Somehow, people think that compromising is capitulating on your principles. It can be far from it." She did offer some hope, however, warning that, while "the essence of public service is solving problems, and we've lost that central purpose," that "hopefully, we have some starters here with the fiscal cliff decisions."
(To read more about Senator Olympia Snowe's comments on "Face the Nation," check out Politico.)
For more on Israel, Benghazi, and the scandal surrounding David Petraeus's resignation, be sure to check out our "Face the Nation" roundtable discussion, featuring Thomas Ricks, author of "The Generals: American Military Command From World War II to Today," Washington Post defense writer David Ignatius, and CBS News correspondents Bob Orr and Margaret Brennan.
Watch the full episode of "Face the Nation" above.
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