U.S. Ambassador to U.N. Susan Rice spoke out for the first time Wednesday to defend her early account of the Benghazi attack, saying she based it on the initial intelligence assessments.
Speaking at the U.N., she said she respects Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who has been highly critical of her, but, "some of the statements he's made about me have been unfounded, but I look forward to having the opportunity at the appropriate time to discuss all of this with him," the Associated Press reported.
Her initial comments attributing the Sept. 11 attack, which killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans, to a mob enraged over an anti-Muslim video were widely denounced by Republicans in the last weeks of the presidential campaign.
Rice has been a target because she is a longtime White House insider and is believed to be President Barack Obama's first choice to replace Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Obama warned Republicans last week that if they had a problem with his administration's handling of the Benghazi attack to "go after me" rather than picking on Rice.
Rice told reporters outside the Security Council: "As a senior U.S. diplomat, I agreed to a White House request to appear on the Sunday shows to talk about the full range of national security issues of the day, which at that time were primarily and particularly the protests that were enveloping and threatening many diplomatic facilities, American diplomatic facilities around the world, and Iran's nuclear program."
"The attack on our facilities in Benghazi was obviously a significant piece of this," Rice said.
"When discussing the attack against our facilities in Benghazi, I relied solely and squarely on the information provided to me by the intelligence community.
"I made clear that the information was preliminary, and that our investigations would give us the definitive answers.
"Everyone, particularly the intelligence community, has worked in good faith to provide the best assessment based on the information available."
"You know the FBI and the State Department's Accountability Review Board are conducting investigations as we speak. And they will look into all aspects of this heinous terrorist attack, to provide what will become the definitive accounting of what occurred," she said.
"Let me just end by saying I knew Chris Stevens. I worked closely with him and had the privilege of doing so as we tried together, as a government, to free the Libyan people from the tyranny of Gadhafi. He was a valued colleague, and his loss, as well as the loss of his three colleagues, is a massive tragedy for all of us who serve in the U.S. government, and for all the American people," Rice said.
"None of us will rest, none of us will be satisfied until we have the answers, and the terrorists responsible for this attack are brought to justice," she said.
Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said on Sunday the criticism of Rice was "one of the most unfair attacks I've ever seen in Washington in 34 years. Susan Rice was using the unclassified talking points which were provided by the intelligence community."
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