President Obama’s national security adviser, Susan Rice, found herself in a familiar predicament this week: under fire from Republicans for comments about a murky sequence of events involving Americans in a distant land.
Speaking to CNN on Friday, Rice insisted that she had been right to assert last weekend that Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, the prisoner of war in Afghanistan released in exchange for five Taliban fighters, served with “honor and distinction,” even amid questions of whether he deserted.
Rice said she was referring to Bergdahl’s decision to enlist in the Army and fight for his country — which she described as “a very honorable thing” — not the circumstances of his capture by the Taliban in June 2009. He needed to give his side of the story, she said.
“He is, as always with Americans, innocent until proven guilty,” Rice said. “He’s now being tried in the court of opinion after having gone through an enormously traumatic five years of captivity. His parents, the same.”
Republican critics of the administration have seized on Rice’s remarks, much as they did in September 2012 when she went on Sunday morning talk shows after the attack on an U.S. diplomatic outpost in Benghazi, Libya, and said that it grew out of a spontaneous protest against a video about the prophet Mohammed.
One of Rice’s critics, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., called for her to be replaced. “When I hear her on television talking about a world event, I can’t believe anything she tells me,” he said this week.
New York Times