Victoria Nuland has been nominated by President Barack Obama to serve as Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs. Described by the Wall Street Journal as a longtime policy official who has advised both former Vice President Dick Cheney and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Nuland faced pointed questions Thursday at the confirmation hearing by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Republican members of the Senate committee took the opportunity to question Nuland’s role in the Benghazi talking points scandal. In the aftermath of the September 11, 2012 attack in Libya, Obama administration officials had wrongly said the deadly incident that left four dead came from a spontaneous protest, rather than a terror attack.
According to Bloomberg Businessweek, Victoria Nuland testified that she played a very limited role in the review of that mistaken information. “I never edited these talking points, I never made changes,” she said. “I simply asked policy people above me to check my instincts.”
In one case, Nuland was concerned about an early draft of the talking points by the Central Intelligence Agency. She expressed a concern that the focus on CIA warnings would create a misleading impression. The warnings didn’t appear in the final draft.
As a result, several Republican senators had questions. According to the WSJ report, Senator John Barrasso (R-WY) asked outright why the Senate should believe that she would be forthcoming after she previously withheld information.
Nuland replied: “I am 400% committed to positive cooperation with the Congress, to sharing fully all information that we can…[I]n that first week after the attack, there were numerous briefings.”
She brushed off some questions that seemed to stray off the topic of her confirmation hearing, including a question from Senator Paul Rand (R-KY) about the CIA.
This is a James Rosen video from Fox News called, “Victoria Nuland defends role in Benghazi flap.” I try to tell all sides, but their editing is going to reflect that network’s more conservative slant on the controversy. However, the footage does show some of Victoria Nuland’s testimony on Thursday, so it’s probably worth a look until something more neutral gets posted:
What’s your take on how Victoria Nuland fielded the Senate’s questions?