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Susan Rice Says Benghazi Claims Were Based On Information From Intelligence

Susan Rice, the U.S. envoy to the U.N., says her comments in the immediate aftermath of the attack in September on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, was based on "information provided to me by the intelligence community."

Speaking to reporters at the U.N. on Wednesday, here's what Rice said:

"When discussing the attacks 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."

Rice is seen as a front-runner for the job of secretary of state in President Obama's second term, but her comments in the wake of the Sept. 11 attack in Benghazi have made her a focus of criticism by some lawmakers.

Making the rounds of the Sunday talk shows after the attack that claimed the lives for four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens, Rice said the attack began as a "spontaneous" demonstration sparked by anger over an anti-Muslim video. She said "extremists" only joined later.

Here's what she said Wednesday about her appearances:

"As a senior US 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 Benghazi—on our facilities in Benghazi—was obviously a significant piece of this."

But Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., has strongly pushed back against the claims Rice made, suggesting she gave false information in her TV remarks. He also said he will do "whatever is necessary" to block Rice if she's nominated to be the next secretary of state.

Rice addressed that criticism Wednesday, and said she hoped to discuss McCain's concerns with the senator. Here's what she said:

"Let me be very clear. I have great respect for Senator McCain and his service to our country. I always have, and I always will. I do think that 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."

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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