Questions surface about Rice's history at State Department

What questions still need to be answered?


This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," November 29, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

SEAN HANNITY, HOST: Tonight, new troubles for you and Ambassador Susan Rice. This as questions surface about her time at the State Department when Al Qaeda bombed two African embassies in the late '90s, and how the situation parallels what happened prior to the terror attack in Benghazi that left four Americans dead.

Now here's how the new information surfaced. Yesterday, Republican Senator Susan Collins met with Ambassador Rice for 90 minutes, and after the closed-door meeting, the senator questioned Rice's role at the State Department back in 1998 when she served as the assistant secretary of state for African affairs in the Clinton administration. Watch this.


SEN. SUSAN COLLINS, R-MAINE: Those bombings in 1998 resulted in the loss of life of 12 Americans as well as many other foreign nationals, and 4,000 people were injured. And what troubles me so much is the Benghazi attack in many ways echoes the attacks on those embassies in 1998 when Susan Rice was head of the African region for our State Department.

In both cases, the ambassador begged for additional security. The ambassador to Kenya sent repeated messages to the State Department requesting a stronger facility because of the increased threat, and those requests, as in the case of Benghazi, were turned down by the State Department.

I asked Ambassador Rice what her role was. She said that she would have to refresh her memory, but that she was not involved directly in turning down the requests, but surely given her position as the assistant secretary for African affairs she had to be aware of the general threat assessment and of the ambassador's repeated requests for more security.


HANNITY: Now, the senator is absolutely right. The comparisons, they are eerily similar. Now, here's why. Back in September, Prudence Bushnell, the former U.S. ambassador to Kenya at the time of the '98 bombings penned an op-ed in the New York Times in reaction to the Benghazi terrorist attack.

Now, she wrote, quote, "We must make that work safer. Now, the reasons for violence change with time and place, but the human effects, well, they are the same. For two years before we were blown up in Nairobi, Kenya, my team and I fought, (nagged was the word the State Department colleagues used) to have security threats and vulnerabilities addressed. Now, we were too closed to the street and easy target, Washington's assessment was the things were OK. Anyway, I was told there was no more money for a more secure embassy."

Now, just to make sure everyone is following this. Let's recap. Back in the late '90s, those at the Kenyan embassy, they were begging the State Department for additional security before the bombings, but they were not given any additional resources.

Now, does this sound familiar? Well, it gets worse. After the attacks in '98, Susan Rice was put out by the administration at the time to go on PBS and talk about the attack. We have the tape. Watch what she says very closely.


SUSAN RICE, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE U.N.: All of our embassies around the world have received warning of this, notice of this, and are taking appropriate precautions. We maintain a high degree of security in all of our embassies at all times, and obviously that high degree of security has been increased even further as a result of this information.


HANNITY: Wow. So after an attack on our embassies, Susan Rice, she's put on television to try and explain the attacks to the American people. All of this sounds familiar?

And joining me now with reaction, the author of "Leading from Behind," Richard Miniter, and Fox News national security analyst KT McFarland. Welcome both of you back to the "Hannity." Welcome back.


HANNITY: Well, good to see you. Let me start with this, because I think this is really important. So, here we have embassy bombings, we had numerous requests for security. Tell me where this doesn't sound familiar.


HANNITY: Those requests were denied.

MCFARLAND: Or ignored.

HANNITY: And ignored, a nuisance. And then we have one person again go out there and propagandize. Who was that?

MCFARLAND: It seems like it's the same person both times. Now, I don't think we should give her the rap that she denied the security, because she certainly didn't in the Benghazi affair --

HANNITY: Right. I agree with that.

MCFARLAND: But the point is she kinds of spins it. Now, I look at this and say, why would President Obama want to put her out there if she has confirmation hearings? They had gotten away with it. They had gotten away with the lies and cover-up. The mainstream media has ignored it. They news cycle moved on. If they put her in a Congressional hearing, that can of worms is opened all over again. People not only are going to ask about Benghazi, who told you to do this, why are you and not Secretary Clinton going out? But now, they're going to go and talk about the bombings in East Africa in 1998. To me it's just political suicide. And it will cost too much political leverage that Obama needs to spend elsewhere.

HANNITY: What are we to make of this? Especially when I look at the words that were used prior to these embassy bombings, Richard, what do I see? The embassy was warned. Washington was quote, "alerted to the embassy's extreme vulnerability and called for assistance." I mean, so very similar to Benghazi, and assistance denied again.

MINITER: Well, in both cases assistance was denied. I think in the August 7th embassy bombings, which by the way killed 224 people, and injured more than 4,000, including 12 American diplomats. So, that was those two embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania were major attack by Al Qaeda. As was frankly, the Benghazi attack which involved almost 100 people. Some of them wearing Afghan clothes, according to Libyan intelligence, using rocket-propelled grenades, machine guns, organized teams and apparently radio-controlled attacks. It was a very sophisticated attack. There were no placards. What Susan Rice has said, it was a demonstration beforehand. There is no images in the Libyan press that supports that. And the intelligence briefings that Susan Rice was certainly a party to, showed that Al Qaeda had been building up training camps and other facilities in Eastern Libya for more than a year. In fact, not just U.S. intelligence, of course, British intelligence reports, French intelligence reports, and Libyan intelligence reports showed the same pattern. And we have Congressional testimony that showed that 35 minutes into the attack on the Benghazi consulate, there was real time video. So, she knew very well the talking points she was asked to present were false or at the very at least misleading. And yet that's what she said publicly.

HANNITY: But there were false, I mean, we can't spin this anymore because this was a lie, and it was done for a political purposes.

Now, K.T., let me go back to you. There were three conclusions as a result of the terror attacks in '98. One was a thought process for assessing the level of threat worldwide at our embassies, they underestimated the treated terrorism, in Nairobi, notwithstanding the ambassador's pleas there. A chronic major lack of funding for new safer embassies, and then three, failing to prepare vehicles bombs by providing emergency action plans, et cetera. In other words, the exact same, almost --

MCFARLAND: The same pattern.

HANNITY: The same chronology.

MCFARLAND: The same chronology word for word, and it's one that we really should have learned, even back in Beirut in the marine barracks bombing in Beirut in 1983.

HANNITY: Exactly.

MCFARLAND: We knew this stuff was coming, we knew Al Qaeda was operating in this way. We didn't know a lot about Al Qaeda at that point, but it was continuing to build. This is their way of attacks, simultaneous attacks, surprised suicide bombers. And so, if we didn't learn it by East Africa in 1998, we sure as heck should have have learned it by Benghazi.


MCFARLAND: And we still have --

MINITER: Hey, Sean, there were two --

MCFARLAND: And we've never have done anything about it. That's the other thing. We have never gone after the people. We know where those training camps are. They're still there.


MINITER: There were two previous attacks on the consulate in Benghazi. One blew a 40 foot hole in the wall three months before the September 11th, 2012 attack. The other was an IED thrown over the wall. So, there was a period of attacks. The British ambassador fled in June three months before the attacks. There were multiple attacks. And Susan Rice must have been briefed on those, and yet she stuck with this YouTube video commentary.

HANNITY: Yes. Well, I think that's really important. All right. Here's the deal. I have spoken to people in the know, behind the scenes there were people there, in Benghazi, that know -- that know that the White House knew, that know that the State Department knew, that everybody knew this within hours, the latest.


HANNITY: All it takes was one person, doesn't it? To come forward and tell the truth?

MCFARLAND: Well, I was in the White House during Watergate, and it was one person. The minute one person comes forward, then a lot of other people rush. In part, they want to clear themselves. They don't want to face prison time. And nobody wants to raise their hand and take an oath.

HANNITY: And lie under oath.

MCFARLAND: And lie under oath.


MCFARLAND: But at the very beginning of this, this was a fairy tale from the beginning. Why? What would they try -- the question I ask is that, what did they do? Why did they do it?

HANNITY: Election.

MCFARLAND: The election, but also we've gone in 18 months time from the Middle East, which was stable, there were dictators, but they were pro- American dictators, and now what do we had, 18 months later, chaos, Al Qaeda has made a comeback, and we have dead Americans.

HANNITY: All right. Richard, with all what we know now, and we know certainly the White House's role, we know what everybody knew when, and David Petraeus said he knew instantaneously, and they watched us in real time 30 minutes into this, and this went on seven hours, and we know there were pleas and cries for help. Now the question is, Susan Rice, is she qualified to be the next secretary of state? And what do you make of the political attacks that this is about a war on women and racist attacks against an African American woman.

MINITER: Well, first of all, I think this war on women argument is ridiculous. If Susan Rice is actually nominated and confirmed, she'll be the fourth woman secretary of state and the third African American. So the idea that a Republican opposition is driven by this sexism or racism when many of those same members raising questions to Susan Rice had voted for previous women as secretaries of state and previous African-Americans, is just simply ridiculous. And this is where the left really needs to move on from the 1960s.

But there's a big character question which is contrary the minds of lots of senators. And that is Susan Rice has a hard time admitting when she knows she's wrong. When she was asked on a flight out of Kenya in the mid-1990s about the Lancaster House Accords, she had an opinion, and when that opinion was contradicted by a British diplomat who said he actually negotiated the Lancaster House Accords, and that her theory was wrong, she didn't back down, she insisted for the next 45 minutes that she was right.

HANNITY: Thank you for being with us. KT, good to see you. Thanks for being with us.

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