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Susan Rice ’86 tapped for national security advisor

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Susan Rice ’86, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, has been tapped as the next national security advisor to President Barack Obama.

Rice will replace Tom Donilon, who is expected to step down in early July, in the post. She will become, after Condoleezza Rice, the second Stanford-affiliated African-American woman to serve as national security advisor.

Rice, who graduated from Stanford with Phi Beta Kappa honors, received serious consideration as a replacement for then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton last year — a position for which she was widely reported to be Obama’s first choice — but withdrew her name from consideration in December in the face of strong Republican opposition and a potentially contentious and lengthy confirmation process.

Republican criticism focused on Rice’s public statements in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2011, Benghazi terrorist attack, in which four Americans — including Chris Stevens, the U.S. ambassador to Libya — were killed. Five days after the attack, Rice claimed on several Sunday news shows that the attack was a spontaneous incident prompted by an amateur anti-Muslim video.

“She has proven that she either doesn’t understand or is not willing to accept evidence on its face,” said Senator John McCain on “Fox and Friends,” in opposing Rice’s potential nomination.

Obama sustained a robust defense of his potential pick before ultimately accepting her withdrawal from consideration and successfully nominating Senator John Kerry for the post.

“The American people can be proud to have a public servant of her caliber and character representing our country,” Obama said in a statement at the time.

Despite the extensive influence over foreign policy afforded the national security advisor, Rice will not be required to undergo a Senate confirmation process.

Former Obama aide Samantha Power will likely succeed Rice as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.

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Marshall Watkins is a senior staff writer at The Stanford Daily, having previously worked as the paper's executive editor and as the managing editor of news. Marshall is a junior from London majoring in Economics, and can be reached at mtwatkins "at" stanford "dot" edu.