When Fox News revealed that it was Susan Rice who “unmasked” the identity of incoming Trump officials in surveillance data gathered by U.S. intelligence agents, it surprised no one.
Rice, throughout her career in government, has found herself in the center of controversy and scandal. Whenever Presidents Bill Clinton or Barack Obama needed an alibi or someone to mislead the American public, it was often Rice to whom they turned for help.
With the possible exception of Valerie Jarrett, there was no aide closer to former President Obama than Susan Rice.
Rice, the former national security adviser reportedly responsible for making dozens of requests to unmask the names of Trump associates in raw intelligence reports, was so close to Obama that one former National Security Council staffer said the president “views her like a sister,” according to a flowery 2014 Newsweek profile headlined “Susan Rice: Obama’s Right-Hand Woman.”
Rice served as the ambassador to the United Nations during Obama’s first term. It was in this capacity that she misled the public about the 2012 attacks on the American consulate in Benghazi.
Before joining the diplomatic corps, Rice spent time as a senior fellow at the left-leaning Brookings Institute, where her mother had served before her.
It should not be a surprise, then, that the Brookings Institute jumped to her defense Tuesday, saying there was nothing unethical or illegal about unmasking U.S. citizens from a surveillance file, the far-left Think Progress reported, without revealing to its readers any details concerning Rice’s roots in the Brookings Institute.
Rice herself claimed ignorance of Trump team surveillance when asked about it before Fox News reporter Adam Housely revealed her role in the unmasking.
Rice went on leave from the Brookings Institute to serve as a senior foreign-policy adviser to Obama in his 2008 presidential campaign. She was one of the first foreign-policy staffers to sign onto Obama’s campaign when most of her peers had supported Hillary Clinton during the primaries.
‘Typhoid Mary’ to the rescue?
Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, called Rice the “Typhoid Mary of the Obama administration foreign policy,” a reference to the super villain in the American comic books published by Marvel Comics.
“Every time something went wrong, she seemed to turn up in the middle of it, whether it was these allegations of improper unmasking and potential improper surveillance, whether it was Benghazi, or many of the other fiascos of the Obama administration,” Cotton said in an interview Tuesday with conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt.
When Hewitt asked if Cotton had ever requested an “unmasking,” he said he had not.
“I’ve never asked for an unmasked name, and, frankly, it’s hard to imagine the circumstances [under which] you would in the ordinary course of business outside of an exceptional review like we’re conducting now,” Cotton said. “Unmasking normally occurs by law enforcement or intelligence analysts who need it to conduct an investigation or to understand the raw intelligence.”
Rice was awarded a Rhodes Scholarship and in 1990 earned a doctoral degree from Oxford University in England. In her dissertation, she portrayed Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe as a “pragmatic, intelligent, sensible, gentle, balanced man” in possession of much “patience and restraint.” Mugabe was in actuality a genocidal dictator guilty of unspeakable atrocities, yet the dissertation was honored as the U.K.’s most distinguished in international relations.
2012 Benghazi attack
Rice has a history of saying and doing whatever is necessary to give political cover to Barack Obama, even if it meant stretching the truth, misleading or misinforming the public.
She became the central figure in what some have called the most grotesque instance of fake news in U.S. history – the Sept. 11, 2012, attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya. Four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens and two U.S. Navy SEALs, lost their lives in the attack, which Rice blamed on “a hateful and offensive video that was widely disseminated throughout the Arab and Muslim world.” Five days later, she went on five Sunday TV news programs and falsely claimed the Benghazi attack was a “spontaneous reaction” to the “hateful and offensive video.”
She made no mention of al-Qaida or other organized terrorist groups taking part in the attack on the consulate, likely to cover up the fact that arms were being run from Libya to Syria, where the Obama administration was secretly trying to overthrow the regime of President Bashar Assad.
Rice embraced the 2014 deal in which President Obama freed five senior Taliban commanders and high-value terrorists from Guantanamo Bay in exchange for U.S. Army soldier Bowe Bergdahl, who deserted in 2009 and collaborated with the Taliban for the next five years.
Eight U.S. soldiers were killed in the effort to find and recover Bergdahl, who emailed his father just before deserting, claiming he was “ashamed” to be American. In June 2014, Rice went on ABC News to justify the prisoner swap, falsely stating that Bergdahl “served the United States with honor and distinction.” The next year, the Army charged Bergdahl with desertion.
While Rice was ridiculed by conservative members of Congress and in the conservative media for deliberately trying to mislead the public on what really happened in Benghazi, the New York Times rushed to her defense, reporting that both protesters angered by an anti-Muslim video and Islamic militants were involved, but no links to al-Qaida or other known terrorist groups were found. “Anger at the video motivated the initial attack,” the Times concluded in 2013.
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., referred to Rice as “not very bright,” with McCain’s defenders attempting to recast his comments in less damaging terms, MediaLite reported.
Here’s what McCain actually said: “If this select committee clears her of any wrongdoing, besides not being very bright, because it was obvious that this was not a quote ‘flash mob,’ there was no demonstration, Charlie.”
After the Muslim-orchestrated bombings in 1998, President Clinton “wheeled Rice out to lie to television viewers about inadequate security provided at U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania,” Matthew Vadum noted in a Frontpage magazine article. The U.S. ambassador to Kenya, Prudence Bushnell, had reportedly begged then-Secretary of State Madeleine Albright for extra security, which was never provided. After the bombings, Rice showed up on PBS to speak for the Clinton administration. She claimed the administration had “maintain[ed] a high degree of security at all of our embassies at all times” and that there was “no telephone warning or call of any sort like that, that might have alerted either embassy just prior to the blast.”
In 1996, Rice helped to persuade President Clinton to reject Sudan’s offer to deliver Osama bin Laden to the U.S.
Rice even played a role in the 1994 Rwandan genocide that claimed the lives of 800,000 people over a stretch of just 100 days on the watch of President Clinton.
Rice was a key player in the Clinton administration’s decision not to intervene in a peacekeeping role, so as to avoid becoming embroiled in a politically risky endeavor that could hurt the Democrats in the upcoming elections. The Clinton people lied afterward, claiming they didn’t know the extent of the death and destruction being wrought in Rwanda. Rice led the cover-up, convincing the administration to strike terms such as “genocide” and “ethnic cleansing” from CIA and State Department memos related to Rwanda.
“If we use the word ‘genocide’ and are seen as doing nothing, what will be the effect on the November [congressional] election?” Rice asked, according to Obama’s U.N. ambassador, Samantha Power.
Rice stated that her claims about Benghazi were based on the unclassified version of information approved by United States intelligence services. Some Republican senators, who would have had a vote on whether to confirm Rice, also voiced objections and said their meetings with Rice at the end of November 2012 did not ease their concerns.
Rice serves on the boards of numerous organizations, including the advisory board of Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies at Stanford University, the board of directors of the Bloomberg Bureau of National Affairs Inc., and the board of directors of Partnership for Public Service. She is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the Aspen Strategy Group.