On Thursday U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice, a senior advisor in the White House, withdrew her name from consideration for Secretary of State, following weeks of speculation about who President Obama will appoint next in the position to succeed Hillary Clinton.
In her letter to President Obama, Ambassador Rice articulated a keen awareness of the high stakes and political backlash that may be dealt to the White House if President Obama appoints her as Secretary of State which comes at a critical time when President Obama is need of all the gunpowder he can muster to strengthen his political position in Washington and march forward against House Republicans dealing with the federal budget and looming “fiscal cliff” which threatens to drag the U.S. into recession.
“I am now convinced that the confirmation process would be lengthy disruptive and costly to you and to our most pressing national and international priorities.”
Rice later admitted, “The position of secretary of state should never be politicized” and the “withdrawal is best for the country.”
Republicans led by Senator John Mc Cain (R-Arizona), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), and Ron Johnson (R-WI) accused Rice last September of “jumping the gun” and disseminating inaccurate information about the Benghazi attack that culminated in four dead Americans, including the U.S. Ambassador to Libya, Chris Stevens.
Ambassador Rice was interviewed on different Sunday news programs about the Sept. 11th assault on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya and shared her views that she later claimed were based on declassified talking points, and sources within the intelligence community.
Ambassador Rice said during the interviews that the Benghazi attacks appeared to have arisen spontaneously from public demonstrations that swept across the Middle East following an American U-Tube video disparaging the prophet Muhammad.
Republicans countered that the Benghazi attack was coordinated and pre-planned, illustrating the serious discrepancies between Rice’s television statements and later statements from Libyan officials, including Libyan national assembly president Mohamed Yousef al-Magariaf, who admitted that it was pre-planned.
Media networks such as Fox News provided Republicans with plenty of air- time to criticize Ambassador Rice’s Benghazi views even despite the fact that she was working as an ambassador of the U.N. and was not directly responsible for the actions that occurred in Benghazi.
During President Obama’s re-election speech, he appeared concerned about Ambassador Rice being used as a political target for Republican foreign policy angst and offered Ambassador Rice unwavering defense while asking Republicans to blame him for the Benghazi attack.
But the political damage was already done.
Even moderate Republican politicians such as Maine Republican Senator Susan Collins, the ranking Republican on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee investigating the Libya attack, declined to back Ambassador Rice, stating, “I still have many questions that remain unanswered.”
Rice served in the Clinton administration at the National Security Council from 1993 to 1997.
Later, she served as director for international organizations and peacekeeping from 1993 to 1995 and as special assistant to the president and senior director for African affairs from 1995 to 1997.
If Rice had been appointed secretary of state, she may have faced continued criticism related to the terrorist attacks of two U.S. embassies in Africa in the late 1990s which occurred on her watch as well as from different religious leaders about her role in the Clinton administration’s response to the Rwandan genocide in the 1990’s.
Ambassador Rice’s financial ties and big investments with two Canadian oil companies that are closely involved with Canada’s Keystone XL Pipeline was recently mentioned on websites Natural Resources Defense Council and OneEarth.Org, presenting the White House with a future conflict of interest if Rice were ever to be appointed.
According to OneEarth.Org, “The current U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Rice owns stock valued between $300,000 and $600,000 in TransCanada, the company seeking a federal permit to transport tar sands crude 1,700 miles to refineries on the Texas Gulf Coast, crossing fragile Midwest ecosystems and the largest freshwater aquifer in North America.”
It was pointed out on OneEarth.org that 20 percent or so of her personal wealth is derived from investments in five Canadian banks that provide loans and financial backing to TransCanada and its competitors for tar sands extraction.
“Rice has investments totaling at least $5 million and up to $11.25 million in Bank of Montreal, Bank of Nova Scotia, Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, Royal Bank of Canada, and Toronto Dominion”
Senator John Kerry
Senator Kerry (D-Mass), who unsuccessfully ran for president, has a great deal of experience on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee along with an impressive foreign policy resume. He remains a likely candidate to be appointed for Secretary of State and has bipartisan support.
Kerry’s departure from the Senate will lead to a special election in Massachusetts where newly defeated Republican Scott Brown is waiting to mount a comeback and regain the seat he recently lost in November to Democratic Harvard Law School Professor Elizabeth Warren.