ABC News’ Jonathan Karl and Sunlen Miller report:
Pop quiz: Who said this about the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, shortly after it happened?
“The violence in Benghazi coincided with an attack on the United States Embassy in Cairo, Egypt, which was also swarmed by an angry mob of protestors on September 11, 2012.”
Was it U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice?
No, it was the United States Senate.
The Senate passed a resolution the day after the attack in Benghazi, on Sept. 12, S. Res. 551. The resolution was updated and passed again Sept. 22 to add the names of those who had died. The original resolution and the update were approved by “Unanimous Consent,” meaning that all 100 senators were officially listed as sponsors or co-sponsors.
Neither resolution uses the words “terrorist” or “extremist” or “al-Qaeda.” Both resolutions use the phrase “swarmed by an angry mob of protestors” to describe the attacks in Cairo and Benghazi.
Several of the resolution’s co-sponsors – including Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., and moderate Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine. – have criticized Susan Rice for using language similar to the Senate resolution in describing the attack days after it happened.
“This president and this administration has either been guilty of colossal incompetence or engaged in a cover-up, neither of which are acceptable to the American people,” McCain said Nov. 14. “If someone carried a message to the American people that was totally and utterly false with no basis in fact, then that person also has to be held accountable as well.”
The senators have targeted Rice’s use of the word “mob” to describe the attack, based on the talking points given to her by the CIA, rather than to admit that it was terrorism.
After meeting with Rice last week on Capitol Hill, Sen. Ayotte said Rice admitted that the information initially given to the U.S. people was wrong.
“It’s certainly clear from the beginning that we knew that those with ties to al-Qaeda were involved on the attack on the embassy and clearly the impression that was given, the information given to the American people was wrong,” Ayotte said after meeting with Rice last week. “In fact, Ambassador Rice said today, absolutely, it was wrong.”
Ayotte’s office says the resolutions’ language, which passed in the days after the attack, and that of Rice the Sunday after the attack are not comparable.
“A resolution honoring fallen Americans can’t be compared to Ambassador Rice’s Sunday show appearances, when she made misleading assertions that al-Qaeda had been ‘decimated,’ security at the consulate was ‘substantial’ and the attack was a ‘spontaneous’ reaction to a ‘heinous and offensive video,’” Ayotte spokesman Jeff Grappone told ABC.
Sen. McCain’s office called the comparison between the language of the resolution and Rice’s words “pathetic.”
“This is total nonsense,” McCain spokesman Brian Rogers said in a statement to ABC News.
“This was a resolution honoring Ambassador Chris Stevens and the other brave Americans who died in Benghazi, drafted by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and passed with the unanimous consent of all 100 members of the U.S. Senate one day after the attack.”