Rice was not questioned about and did not bring up al-Qaeda’s possible involvement during her other two appearances on CNN or NBC. She was directly questioned about it on ABC, CBS, and Fox News.
2. Jay Carney: “Ambassador Rice on those shows talked about the possibility that al-Qaeda might be involved or other al-Qaeda affiliates might be involved, or non-al-Qaeda Libyan extremists.”
3. On ABC News’ This Week:
TAPPER: So, first of all, what is the latest you can tell us on who these attackers were at the embassy or at the consulate in Benghazi? We’re hearing that the Libyans have arrested people. They’re saying that some people involved were from outside the country, that there might have even been al-Qaeda ties. What’s the latest information?
RICE: Well, Jake, first of all, it’s important to know that there’s an FBI investigation that has begun and will take some time to be completed. That will tell us with certainty what transpired.
But our current best assessment, based on the information that we have at present, is that, in fact, what this began as, it was a spontaneous — not a premeditated — response to what had transpired in Cairo. In Cairo, as you know, a few hours earlier, there was a violent protest that was undertaken in reaction to this very offensive video that was disseminated.
We believe that folks in Benghazi, a small number of people came to the embassy to — or to the consulate, rather, to replicate the sort of challenge that was posed in Cairo. And then as that unfolded, it seems to have been hijacked, let us say, by some individual clusters of extremists who came with heavier weapons, weapons that as you know in — in the wake of the revolution in Libya are — are quite common and accessible. And it then evolved from there.
We’ll wait to see exactly what the investigation finally confirms, but that’s the best information we have at present.
4. On Fox News’ Fox News Sunday:
WALLACE: Let’s talk about the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi this week that killed four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens.
The top Libyan official says that the attack on Tuesday was, quote, his words “preplanned”. Al-Qaeda says the operation was revenge for our killing a top al-Qaeda leader.
What do we know?
RICE: Well, first of all, Chris, we are obviously investigating this very closely. The FBI has a lead in this investigation. The information, the best information and the best assessment we have today is that in fact this was not a preplanned, premeditated attack. That what happened initially was that it was a spontaneous reaction to what had just transpired in Cairo as a consequence of the video. People gathered outside the embassy and then it grew very violent and those with extremist ties joined the fray and came with heavy weapons, which unfortunately are quite common in post-revolutionary Libya and that then spun out of control.
But we don’t see at this point signs this was a coordinated plan, premeditated attack. Obviously, we will wait for the results of the investigation and we don’t want to jump to conclusions before then. But I do think it’s important for the American people to know our best current assessment.
5. On CBS’s Face the Nation:
BOB SCHIEFFER: And joining us now, Susan Rice, the U.N. ambassador, our U.N. ambassador. Madam Ambassador, he says this is something that has been in the planning stages for months. I understand you have been saying that you think it was spontaneous? Are we not on the same page here?
SUSAN RICE (Ambassador to the United Nations): Bob, let me tell you what we understand to be the assessment at present. First of all, very importantly, as you discussed with the President, there is an investigation that the United States government will launch led by the FBI, that has begun and —
BOB SCHIEFFER (overlapping): But they are not there.
SUSAN RICE: They are not on the ground yet, but they have already begun looking at all sorts of evidence of — of various sorts already available to them and to us. And they will get on the ground and continue the investigation. So we’ll want to see the results of that investigation to draw any definitive conclusions. But based on the best information we have to date, what our assessment is as of the present is in fact what began spontaneously in Benghazi as a reaction to what had transpired some hours earlier in Cairo where, of course, as you know, there was a violent protest outside of our embassy—
BOB SCHIEFFER: Mm-Hm.
SUSAN RICE: — sparked by this hateful video. But soon after that spontaneous protest began outside of our consulate in Benghazi, we believe that it looks like extremist elements, individuals, joined in that — in that effort with heavy weapons of the sort that are, unfortunately, readily now available in Libya post-revolution. And that it spun from there into something much, much more violent.
BOB SCHIEFFER: But you do not agree with him that this was something that had been plotted out several months ago?
SUSAN RICE: We do not — we do not have information at present that leads us to conclude that this was premeditated or preplanned.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Do you agree or disagree with him that al-Qaeda had some part in this?
SUSAN RICE: Well, we’ll have to find out that out. I mean 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.