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Why is Susan Rice on the hot seat over Benghazi attack? (+video)

Republicans vow to get to the bottom of UN Ambassador Susan Rice’s role in reporting the attack on the US consulate in Benghazi, Libya. Democrats say she's being unfairly pilloried.

By Staff writer / November 18, 2012

Senate Intelligence Committee vice chairman Saxby Chambliss talks to the media after former CIA Director David Petraeus testified at a closed hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington.

Yuri Gripas/REUTERS

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The temperature under Susan Rice’s hot seat didn’t cool any over the weekend.

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Republicans vow to get to the bottom of UN Ambassador Rice’s role in reporting what happened when the US consulate in Benghazi, Libya, was attacked on the anniversary of 9/11.

As the Obama administration’s first major spokesman following an attack that killed US Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other embassy personnel, Ms. Rice left the impression that “extremist elements” had joined a “spontaneous protest” against an anti-Islam YouTube video that was roiling the region.

Although President Obama strongly defended Rice at his first post-election press conference last week – suggesting his opponents should come after him if they have a problem – Republicans aren’t letting up on Rice, reportedly at the top of Obama’s list to become Secretary of State when Hillary Clinton resigns as expected.

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"She's going to have to come in and testify at some point, whether it's in a closed hearing or an open hearing," Sen. Saxby Chambliss, vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said on "Fox News Sunday.”

Sen. Lindsey Graham suggests a strong political motive in Rice’s characterization of the attack, particularly when she added that the United States under Obama’s leadership had “decimated al Qaeda.” Intelligence officials and the President later acknowledged that terrorists likely affiliated with al Qaeda had been part of the attack.

“The story she told helped reinforce the political narrative helpful to the president," Sen. Graham said on NBC's "Meet the Press" show. "I don't know what she knew, but I know the story she told was misleading.”

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