Ambassador Rice clarifies Benghazi remarks

(CBS News) As CBS News reported last night, America's ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice, has broken her silence about the controversial remarks she made back in September regarding the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans were killed in that attack.

Ambassador Rice defended her comments more than nine weeks ago in which she said the Benghazi attacks did not appear pre-planned. She said that reflected the best intelligence at the time.

"I relied soley and squarely on the information provided to me by the intelligence community," she said. "I made clear that the information was preliminary and that our investigations would give us the definitive answers."

But intelligence officials told Congress last week they knew almost from the start that Benghazi was likely the work of terrorists, perhaps affiliated with al Qaeda.

In an appearance on "Face the Nation" five days after the attack, Rice gave no hint of that.

"We do not have information at present that leads us to conclude that this was pre-mediated or pre-planned," Rice said at the time.

Last week, former CIA Director David Petraeus told congressional panels in closed sessions that someone in the Obama administration removed references to "terrorism" and "al Qaeda" from his agency's summary before it went to Rice. A source told us the edits were made by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

Republican Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham have led the call for a special committee to investigate.

"I was on "Face the Nation" the morning she came on and told that incredible story and right after the president of the Libyan National Assembly said it was al Qaeda, and yet she never changed her story," McCain said on "CBS This Morning" last week.

Rice also shot back against McCain's criticisms. "I do think some of the statements he's made about me have been unfounded, but I do look forward to having the opportunity at the appropriate time to discuss all of this with him."

After Rice spoke Wednesday night, several Republicans told CBS News they want to ask the administration, what evidence they had when they originally said that the Benghazi attacks started with a spontaneous mob inspired by an anti-Islam YouTube video, an idea that's now been set aside.)

  • Sharyl Attkisson On Twitter»

    Sharyl Attkisson is a CBS News investigative correspondent based in Washington.

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