By Daniel Strauss - 11/16/12 01:11 PM EST
Susan Rice was not lying, but rather putting a “softer touch” on the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) said Friday.
Chambliss spoke just ahead of a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing at which Gen. David Petraeus is to testify on the attack that killed four Americans, including the U.S. ambassador to the North African nation.
Rice has been criticized by Republicans for describing the terrorist attack on the consulate as stemming from a peaceful protest. She made that argument during several cable news appearances nearly a week after the attack.
Chambliss, the senior Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee, said the public would have been “better served” if Rice had given a more accurate account. He argued that by the time Rice gave her account, the administration already knew it was a terrorist attack.
“She just didn't get out there and say, 'Look, this is a terrorist attack, somebody screwed up and we've got to get to the bottom of it.' I mean, that's where we were two days later, not five days later, and I think the American people would've been better served and they would have a better feeling about what happened in Benghazi if the White House had just been forthcoming very quickly,” he said. “And they knew by then more about what happened than was being talked about.”
President Obama has indicated Rice is under consideration to be nominated to succeed Hillary Clinton as secretary of State.
Petraeus, who resigned as CIA director last week following revelations of an extramarital affair, will only speak about Benghazi during his testimony, according to lawmakers. He is scheduled to testify to both the House Intelligence Committee and Senate Intelligence Committee at 7:30 a.m. and 9 a.m., respectively.