As a former delegate to the United Nations, I have been especially dismayed by the personal attacks of some Republican critics against UN Ambassador Susan Rice and her comments shortly after the Sept. 11 Benghazi attack.
I saw firsthand in 2009 how Rice and her staff work with information coming through Washington in the most thorough and thoughtful way. As President Obama has strongly defended, Rice’s comments were based on intelligence that she had received and what the administration knew at the time.
Another tragedy on top of the lives lost in Benghazi is now the choreographed political maneuver on Ambassador Rice. The vitriolic attacks are a foul attempt to limit Rice’s options in the future and possibly block her confirmation as the next Secretary of State. It would be a shame if the narrowed political interests of a few limit one of America’s brightest intellectual diplomats.
There was no intention to hide information about the attack and President Obama acknowledged the following day that it was terrorism. And let us not forget Rice’s Republican appointed predecessor who helped mislead Americans by supporting faulty reports of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Some of the same critics — including the media — who are now beating the drum against Rice are the same ones who reported and promoted the unfounded intelligence in Iraq.
It can be easy to start pointing fingers after a tragedy. We in Colorado understand the changing landscape when violence hits in our backyard. The initial reports from the recent Aurora theater massacre and the Columbine High School shootings included incorrect information. Officials were relying on the most up-to-date reports to inform the public and mistakes were made.
As a community, we want to know the full picture but until the smoke cleared we gave our officials the benefit of the doubt. Congress also has the full right to investigate what happened and if mistakes were made people should be accountable.
But to exploit that investigation on Rice is wrong. Her comments shortly after the Benghazi attack were based on CIA intelligence and talking points. If a few Republican critics are now attempting to “shoot the messenger,” it will take more than one bullet politically aimed at Rice.
As a country, we just went through one of the most divisive presidential elections in recent history. We face a fiscal cliff that will affect all of us. The attacks on one woman should not only be denounced with loud voices but quickly dismissed as a cowardly act by a few.
Wellington Webb was appointed as a United Nations delegate in 2009. He served as Denver’s mayor from 1991-2003 and currently is the president of Webb Group International, a consulting firm.