In a Wall Street Journal op-ed, Bush administration attorney general Michael Mukasey disregarded Ambassador Susan Rice's actual remarks on the attack at the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, to suggest she lacks the "moral fitness" to serve as secretary of state.
Mukasey and co-writer Anne Bayefsky said that although former secretaries of state have "said or done foolish things," "moral fitness is also relevant" when selecting a new top diplomat. On this trait, they found Rice lacking, in part because of Rice's description of the attack in Benghazi during appearances on the Sunday news shows on September 16.
Conservative media figures have led a witch hunt against Rice over these appearances, despite the fact that Rice based her statements on talking points provided by the U.S. intelligence community.
Mukasey and Bayefsky claimed that Rice deserves blame in part because she referenced an anti-Islam video that sparked global riots. They suggested Rice was somehow at fault because she "knew that the video story line was questionable, as Sen. Dianne Feinstein (chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence) and administration officials had already suggested publicly that the attack was al Qaeda-related."
But in reality, Rice repeatedly qualified her remarks, saying that an investigation was ongoing and that "we don't want to jump to conclusions" before the investigation was finished. She also said that "we look to that investigation to give us the definitive word as to what transpired." So Rice did, in fact, stress that current intelligence was "questionable," to use Mukasey and Bayefsky's word.
Furthermore, credible reporting says that the video did indeed play a role in the Benghazi attack.
Mukasey and Bayefsky also noted Feinstein and administration officials publicly suggested the attacks may have had Al Qaeda ties, ostensibly in contrast with Rice's statements.
But when CBS' Bob Schieffer asked Rice whether Al Qaeda had played a role, she replied, "I think it's clear that there were extremist elements that joined in and escalated the violence. Whether they were al Qaeda affiliates, whether they were Libyan-based extremists or al Qaeda itself I think is one of the things we'll have to determine."
Also absent from the Journal op-ed? Disclosure of Muskasey's former role as a Romney campaign adviser.