By Elise Labott
In the delicate dance of diplomacy, the word "apology" can be a misstep.
Such is the case with a proposed letter of assurances from the United States to the people of Afghanistan, which is emerging as a way to overcome remaining hurdles to allowing some U.S. troops to remain in that country post-2014.
By Chelsea J. Carter and Elise Labott
Reports the United States is on the verge of a security agreement with Afghanistan that includes a formal letter of apology for past mistakes by American troops are completely false, the National Security adviser told CNN on Tuesday.
The statements came amid claims by Afghan officials that the Obama administration offered to write the letter as part of an effort to keep a small number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan well past the 2014 deadline to withdraw.
"No such letter has been drafted or delivered. There is not a need for the United States to apologize to Afghanistan," National Security Adviser Susan Rice said on CNN's "Situation Room."
"Quite the contrary, we have sacrificed and supported them in their democratic progress and in tackling the insurgents and al Qaeda. So that (letter of apology) is not on the table."FULL STORY
By Pam Benson
The White House has agreed to turn over to the Senate Intelligence Committee additional e-mails and intelligence reports related to the lethal attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya, according to a congressional source.
The source said some of the materials have already been received by the panel and others "will be provided shortly."
Republican senators have threatened to hold up the nomination of John Brennan as CIA director until they receive e-mails exchanged between the White House and the spy agency concerning public talking points about the deadly attack last September 11.
U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice relied on those talking points to explain the Obama administration's version of events several days after the armed assault. Her televised comments ignited an election-year controversy, fueled by Republicans, over whether the administration was being truthful about the nature of the attack.
By Elise Labott
After months of accusations and political recriminations, the State Department is getting ready to present the most detailed explanation yet regarding the circumstances surrounding the deadly attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya.
Monday, the State Department is expected to get a report on the incident from the independent Advisory Review Board, sources in the State Department told CNN Sunday. The review was ordered by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Congress will receive the report from the board ahead of a classified briefing for members on Wednesday by Thomas Pickering, who led the Advisory Review Board. Retired Adm. Mike Mullen, the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who was also on the panel, will be part of the briefing as well.
The State Department is also expected to present recommendations on improving security. That's likely to include an explanation of measures that have already been put in place since the September 11 attack on the consulate, which left four Americans - including U.S. Amb. Chris Stevens - dead.
U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice withdrew her name from consideration to become Secretary of State in a letter written to President Obama on Tuesday. Here is the full statement from Obama the White House released shortly after that:
"Today, I spoke to Ambassador Susan Rice, and accepted her decision to remove her name from consideration for Secretary of State. For two decades, Susan has proven to be an extraordinarily capable, patriotic, and passionate public servant. As my Ambassador to the United Nations, she plays an indispensable role in advancing America’s interests. Already, she has secured international support for sanctions against Iran and North Korea, worked to protect the people of Libya, helped achieve an independent South Sudan, stood up for Israel’s security and legitimacy, and served as an advocate for UN reform and the human rights of all people. I am grateful that Susan will continue to serve as our Ambassador at the United Nations and a key member of my cabinet and national security team, carrying her work forward on all of these and other issues. I have every confidence that Susan has limitless capability to serve our country now and in the years to come, and know that I will continue to rely on her as an advisor and friend. While I deeply regret the unfair and misleading attacks on Susan Rice in recent weeks, her decision demonstrates the strength of her character, and an admirable commitment to rise above the politics of the moment to put our national interests first. The American people can be proud to have a public servant of her caliber and character representing our country."
By Jamie Crawford
It's a favorite game in Washington to weigh the odds of each potential nominee to a president's cabinet and that game is in full swing - especially in trying to anticipate President Barack Obama's choice for replacing Hillary Clinton as secretary of state.
With speculation mounting that President Obama may soon announce his nominee, two very well-known names - Sen. John Kerry, D-Massachusetts, and Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice - remain the two top possibilities. Each comes with strengths but with baggage as well.
Rice's name has been floated in recent weeks as being Obama's preferred candidate for the top diplomatic post.
Twice in recent weeks the president has voiced support for her as she has been at the receiving end of a barrage of criticism over how she presented the administration's explanation for the attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya. Her appearance on Sunday talk shows the weekend after the attack that killed four Americans including the U.S. ambassador has led to questions as to whether she is too controversial now to be chosen by the president.
By Suzanne Kelly
A conciliatory meeting between U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice and Republican critics backfired following revelations that the CIA removed terrorism references in unclassified talking points about the U.S. consulate attack in Libya.
Rice, who serves as the top U.S. envoy to the United Nations, met with Republican senators Tuesday over the September 11 attack against the U.S. mission in Benghazi.
She asked for the meeting with Republican Sens. John McCain, Kelly Ayotte and Lindsey Graham after their sharp criticism of her response to the Benghazi attack. The Republican senators have maintained that they are concerned about her explanation on what caused the attack.
At the time of the attack that left four Americans dead this year, Rice said an anti-U.S. demonstration led to the violence, an assertion later disproved by intelligence officials and reports from the ground.
By Dan Lothian
After facing criticism from Republican lawmakers surrounding her characterization of the September 11, 2012 attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice will hold meetings on Capitol Hill about Libya, an administration official said Monday.
Rice will meet with Sen. John McCain on Tuesday morning, a Senate source said.FULL STORY
By Jennifer Rizzo, with reporting from Pam Benson
Former CIA Director David Petraeus testified on Capitol Hill on Friday that the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, was an act of terrorism committed by al Qaeda-linked militants.
That's according to Rep. Peter King (R-NY), who spoke to reporters after the closed hearing, which lasted an hour and 20 minutes.
The account Petraeus gave was different from the description the Obama administration gave on September 14, King said.
Then, the attack was described as "spontaneous," the result of a protest against an anti-Muslim film that got out of control outside the compound.
Petraeus told lawmakers Friday that he had discussed the possibility of it being a terrorist attack in his initial briefing in September, according to King.
"He had told us that this was a terrorist attack and there were terrorists involved from the start," King said. "I told him, my questions, I had a very different recollection of that (earlier account)," he said. "The clear impression we (lawmakers) were given was that the overwhelming amount of evidence was that it arose out of a spontaneous demonstration and it was not a terrorist attack."
The "spontaneous" adjective was "minimized" during Petraeus' testimony Friday, King said.
An Obama administration official whose now controversial comment that the attack on the U.S. mission in Libya was "spontaneous" relied on talking points provided by the CIA based on its assessment that an intelligence official said on Friday was updated days later with new information.
The disclosure to CNN appears to offer some clarity around the Obama administration's early stage explanation of the September 11 attack by armed militants that killed Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.
But CNN National Security Contributor Fran Townsend injected a new element into the crucial time line on Friday night, reporting on Anderson Cooper 360 that senior intelligence officials had multiple conversations with senior White House officials in the first 24 hours after the attack.
Townsend, a former homeland security and counterterrorism adviser to President George W. Bush, added that "we don't know" what was said.
"But I can tell you from having lived through these crises, you're getting a constant feed of what the intelligence community understands about what is currently going on and what has happened on the ground," Townsend said.
She added that "they will caveat the information" because in the first hours there "will be all sorts of information, some of it which will turn out not to have been true."