For John, BLUF: Ambassador Susan Rice is peripheral to Benghazi. But, she does have a record worth examining. Nothing to see here; just move along.
Thanks to a recent Dick Howe blog post, I checked out the Charles Pierce blog at Esquire Magazine. Mr Pierce has a post up on Susan Rice and her investments in TransCanada, a pipeline company with an interest in the Keystone Pipeline. The point being that as SecState she would be involved in decisions relating to approving the pipeline. Mr Pierce was pretty sarcastic in his post, mostly about Senator McCain and also the Benghazi Imbroglio, but I think there are enough folks involved in the Keystone issue for that not to be an issue.
More important is the issue of Senator Susan Collins and her concerns about Amb Rice, as noted by Politico.
As someone pointed out to me, the Department of State is dysfunctional in many ways and it will require a strong and savy manager to make it work. Isn't it fair to ask if Ambassador Rice is that person? I will note that she was Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs in 1988 (Clinton Administration), back when two of our African Embassies were bombed. She has been in the building, but it is a big step to the key office on the Seventh Floor.
Further, there is the issue of Ambassador Rice concurring in Mr Richard Clarke's advice not to accept the offer of the Government of Sudan to hand over Bin Laden (back before 9/11).
All along, I have felt, and articulated, that the real questions about a Rice nomination should not be about Benghazi, but larger issues. For example, as Senator Collins points out, Ambassador Rice's time as an Africa expert. For example, there are legitimate questions regarding her advice regarding Congo and Rwanda. Two people I know, who are closer followers of the issues, suggest that her advice with regard to the situation in Sudan was not all that steller.
I guess we shall see where this heads, but I see Senator Collins' comments as a significant turning point in this discussion.
Quoting from the Politico article on Senator Collins:
“In the military, when things go ba[dNOTE for Gerry:: This issue is suffused with politics, from the Oval Office to Marty's Office, but at the end of the day shouldn't it be about getting the right fit for Secretary of State? Once upon a time, before we made the Postal Service a QUANGO, we had the Postmaster General as a Cabinet Level position for the President to place a favorite without expertise in some area like State or Defense or Agriculture. It would be nice to have it back.
ck], you don’t get promoted,” [Senator Lindsey] Graham, an Air Force reservist, told POLITICO. “I’m not going to hold it against Susan Rice that the entire system failed. The question is what part did she play in this system failure?”
Regards — Cliff