Susan Rice

Susan Rice
Susan Rice official photo.jpg
Official portrait, 2013
24th United States National Security Advisor
In office
July 1, 2013 – January 20, 2017
PresidentBarack Obama
DeputyTony Blinken
Avril Haines
Preceded byThomas E. Donilon
Succeeded byMichael Flynn
27th United States Ambassador to the United Nations
In office
January 26, 2009 – June 30, 2013
PresidentBarack Obama
DeputyBrooke Anderson
Rosemary DiCarlo
Preceded byZalmay Khalilzad
Succeeded bySamantha Power
12th Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs
In office
October 14, 1997 – January 20, 2001
PresidentBill Clinton
Preceded byGeorge Moose
Succeeded byWalter H. Kansteiner III
Personal details
Susan Elizabeth Rice

(1964-11-17) November 17, 1964 (age 55)
Washington, D.C., U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
Ian O. Cameron
m. 1992)
ParentsEmmett J. Rice (father)
Lois Dickson Rice (mother)
EducationStanford University (BA)
New College, Oxford (MPhil, DPhil)
  • Political official
  • Diplomat
  • Policy advisor

Susan Elizabeth Rice (born November 17, 1964) is an American diplomat, Democratic policy advisor, and former public official, who served as the 27th United States ambassador to the United Nations from 2009 to 2013 and as the 24th United States national security advisor from 2013 to 2017.

Rice was born in Washington, D.C., and attended Stanford University and New College at the University of Oxford, where she was a Rhodes Scholar and received a DPhil (PhD). She served on President Bill Clinton's National Security Council staff from 1993 to 1997 and was the assistant secretary of state for African Affairs at the State Department from 1997 to 2001. Appointed at age 32, Rice became the youngest person in U.S. history to serve as an Assistant Secretary of State. Rice's tenure saw significant changes in U.S.–Africa policy, including the passage of the African Growth and Opportunity Act, support for democratic transitions in South Africa and Nigeria, and an increased U.S. focus on fighting HIV/AIDS.

A former Brookings Institution fellow, Rice served as a foreign policy advisor to Democratic presidential nominees Michael Dukakis, John Kerry, and Barack Obama. Rice opposed the Iraq War, supporting Obama in the Democratic primaries due to his similar opposition. After Obama won the 2008 presidential election, Rice was nominated as Ambassador to the United Nations. The Senate confirmed her by unanimous consent on January 22, 2009. During her tenure at the United Nations, Rice championed a human rights and anti-poverty agenda, elevated climate change and LGBT and women's rights as global priorities, and committed the U.S. to agreements such as the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and the U.N. Millennium Development Goals. She also defended Israel at the Security Council, pushed for tough sanctions against Iran and North Korea, and advocated for U.S. and NATO intervention in Libya in 2011.

Mentioned as a possible replacement for retiring U.S. secretary of state Hillary Clinton in 2012,[1][2] Rice withdrew from consideration following controversy related to the 2012 attack on a U.S. diplomatic facility in Benghazi.[3] Rice served as National Security Advisor to President Barack Obama from 2013 to 2017. Rice helped with U.S. efforts on the Iran nuclear deal of 2015 and the Paris Agreement on climate change. Rice was on the shortlist to become Joe Biden's vice-presidential running mate in 2020; however, Kamala Harris was officially announced as Biden's running mate on August 11, 2020.[4]

Early life, education, and early career

Rice was born in Washington D.C.,[5] to education policy scholar Lois Rice (née Dickson), who helped design the federal Pell Grant subsidy system and who joined the Brookings Institution in 1992;[6] and Emmett J. Rice (1919–2011), a Cornell University economics professor and the second black governor of the Federal Reserve System.[5] Her maternal grandparents were Jamaican.[7] Her parents divorced when Rice was ten years of age.[8] In 1978, her mother married Alfred Bradley Fitt, an attorney, who at the time was general counsel of the U. S. Congressional Budget Office.

Rice said that her parents taught her to "never use race as an excuse or advantage," and as a young girl she "dreamed of becoming the first U.S. senator from the District of Columbia."[5]

Rice was a three-letter varsity athlete,[9] student government president, and valedictorian at National Cathedral School in Washington, D.C., a private girls' day school.[10] She attended Stanford University, where she won a Truman Scholarship and graduated with a BA with honors in history in 1986. She was elected Phi Beta Kappa her junior year.[11][12][13]

Rice attended New College, Oxford on a Rhodes Scholarship, where she earned a Master of Philosophy in 1988 and a Doctorate of Philosophy in 1990, both in International Relations.[13] Her doctoral dissertation was entitled Commonwealth Initiative in Zimbabwe, 1979–1980: Implications for International Peacekeeping. Chatham House, the Royal Institute of International Affairs, honored her dissertation as the UK's most distinguished in international relations.[5][14]

Rice served as a foreign policy aide to Michael Dukakis during the 1988 presidential election. She was a management consultant at McKinsey & Company, a global management consulting firm, from 1990 to early 1992. Rice worked in McKinsey's Toronto office.[15]

Clinton administration

Rice served in the Clinton administration in various capacities: at the National Security Council (NSC) from 1993 to 1997 (as director for international organizations and peacekeeping from 1993 to 1995, and as special assistant to the president and senior director for African affairs from 1995 to 1997); and as Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs from 1997 to 2001. Rice's tenure saw significant changes in U.S.-Africa policy, including the passage of the African Growth and Opportunity Act, support for democratic transitions in South Africa and Nigeria, and an increased U.S. focus on fighting the HIV/AIDS pandemic.[16]:201–204

National Security Council

At the time of the 1994 Rwandan genocide, Rice reportedly said, "If we use the word 'genocide' and are seen as doing nothing, what will be the effect on the November election?" She denied the quote but acknowledged the mistakes made at the time and felt that a debt needed repaying.[17][16]:152 The inability or failure of the Clinton administration to do anything about the genocide would form her later views on possible military interventions.[18] She said of the experience: "I swore to myself that if I ever faced such a crisis again, I would come down on the side of dramatic action, going down in flames if that was required."[19] Later in 2012, during an interview with The New Republic, Rice stated "To suggest that I’m repenting for [Rwanda] or that I’m haunted by that or that I don't sleep at night because of that or that every policy I've implemented subsequently is driven by that is garbage."[20]

Timothy M. Carney, former U.S. ambassador to Sudan, co-authored an op-ed in 2002 claiming that in 1997 Sudan offered to turn over its intelligence on bin Laden but that Rice, together with then NSC terrorism specialist Richard A. Clarke, successfully lobbied for continuing to bar U.S. officials from engaging with the Khartoum government.[21] Similar allegations were made by Vanity Fair contributing editor David Rose[22] and Richard Miniter, author of Losing Bin Laden.[23] The allegations against Rice were determined to be unfounded by the Joint Congressional Inquiry into 9/11 and the 9/11 Commission, which found no evidence that Sudan ever made an offer to share intelligence on bin Laden.[16]

Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs

Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, a longtime mentor and family friend to Rice, urged Clinton to appoint Rice as Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs in 1997.[5] At a confirmation hearing chaired by Senator John Ashcroft, Rice, who attended the hearing along with her infant son whom she was then nursing, made a great impression on senators from both parties and "sailed through the confirmation process."[5]

In the context of the Rwandan, Ugandan, AFDL and Angolan invasion of Zaire (later known as the Democratic Republic of the Congo) in 1996 and overthrow of dictator Mobutu Sese Seko, Rice is alleged to have said that "Anything's better than Mobutu."[24] According to Gérard Prunier, a staffer to the Assistant Secretary said that "the only thing we have to do is look the other way," with respect to regional intervention in the conflict.[25] New York Times correspondent Howard W. French said that according to his sources, Rice herself made the remark.[26]

On July 7, 1998, Rice was a member of an American delegation to visit detained Nigerian president-elect Basorun Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola. During this meeting, Abiola suffered a fatal heart attack.[27]

Rice supported U.S. efforts to reach both the Lusaka Ceasefire Agreement in the Congo and the Lomé Peace Accord in Sierra Leone.[28] Some observers criticized the Sierra Leone agreement as too indulgent of the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) and for bringing the war criminal Foday Sankoh into government, leading to the adoption of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1313, which blamed the RUF for the continuing conflict in the west African country.[29] Rice played a major role in peace negotiations between Ethiopia and Eritrea during the Eritrean–Ethiopian War, leading to the Algiers Agreement in 2000 ending the conflict. For her efforts she was named a co-recipient of the White House's Samuel Nelson Drew Memorial Award for "distinguished contributions to the formation of peaceful, cooperative relationships between nations," alongside Gayle Smith and Anthony Lake.[30][16]:183

Rice had a poor relationship with State Department veteran Richard Holbrooke, whom she considered to be meddling on her turf and who in return felt she was rising too quickly in U.S. diplomatic ranks.[31][32]

Business and think tank activities

Susan E. Rice (middle) at the USCIRF hearings (November 27, 2001)

Rice was managing director and principal at Intellibridge from 2001 to 2002.[33][34] From 2002 to 2009, she was a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, where "she focused on U.S. foreign policy, weak and failing states, the implications of global poverty, and transnational threats to security."[35]

Michael E. O'Hanlon and Ivo Daalder, two Brookings colleagues of Rice at the time, said that Rice consistently opposed the 2003 invasion of Iraq in the run-up to the war.[36] In 2012, columnist Peter Beinart reviewed a series of NPR interviews with Rice in late 2002 and early 2003 and concluded that Rice's position on war was equivocal; at some points, she expressed skepticism about U.S. military action, while at other points taking a more hawkish view.[37] Beinart wrote that two of Rice's then-Brookings colleagues at the time were both unsure about her position on the war at the time.[37] For example, in November 2002, Rice said, "many people who think that we haven't finished the war against al Qaeda and our ability to do these simultaneously is in doubt."[37] In a December 2002 NPR interview, Rice said, "It's clear that Iraq poses a major threat. It's clear that its weapons of mass destruction need to be dealt with forcefully, and that's the path we're on. I think the question becomes whether we can keep the diplomatic balls in the air and not drop any, even as we move forward, as we must, on the military side. ... The George W. Bush administration frankly owes the American public a much fuller and more honest assessment of what the costs will be of the actual conflict, as well as the aftermath, the post-conflict reconstruction. And the costs are going to be huge."[37][36][38] Rice endorsed the long-standing U.S. policy toward Iraq of regime change, but not necessarily through military means; regarding Rice's allusion to military action, O'Hanlon notes that "For the Clinton administration, they were typically airstrikes or cruise missile strikes of limited duration and effect, not invasions."[36] In a February 2003 NPR interview, Rice said she believed Secretary of State Colin Powell "has proved that Iraq has these weapons and is hiding them, and I don't think many informed people doubted that,"[39] but also stated, "there are many who fear that going to war against Iraq may in fact in the short term make us less secure rather than more secure."[37] In her memoir, Rice wrote, "From the start, I viewed that war of choice as a dangerous diversion from the main objective of defeating al-Qaida globally and in Afghanistan."[16]:212 In April 2003, after the war began, Rice said, "To maximize our likelihood of success, the US is going to have to remain committed to and focused on reconstruction and rehabilitation of Iraq for many years to come."[40] Rice said that in the wake of chaos in Iraqi cities in the aftermath of the invasion, the U.S. should act urgently "to fill the security void" and then "transition as quickly as possible these law and order responsibilities to other competent international actors and, of course, ultimately to legitimate Iraqi authorities as quickly as possible."[40]

During the 2004 presidential campaign, Rice served as a foreign policy adviser to John Kerry.[41]

Rice went on leave from the Brookings Institution to serve as a senior foreign policy adviser to Barack Obama in his 2008 presidential campaign. She was one of the first high-profile foreign policy staffers to sign onto Obama's campaign, as most of her peers had supported Hillary Clinton during the presidential primaries.[31] Rice criticized Obama's Republican opponent in the campaign, John McCain, calling his policies "reckless" and dismissing the Arizona senator's trip to Iraq as "strolling around the market in a flak jacket."[42]

On November 5, 2008, Rice was named to the advisory board of the Obama–Biden Transition Project.[43]

United States ambassador to the United Nations (2009–2013)

Rice with Barack Obama and Joe Biden, December 2008

On December 1, 2008, president-elect Obama announced that he would nominate Rice to be the United States ambassador to the United Nations,[44][45] a position which he restored to cabinet level.[46] Reportedly Rice had wanted the post of National Security Advisor, which instead went to retired United States Marine Corps general James L. Jones.[31]

Rice attends a briefing on Afghanistan in the Situation Room of the White House, October 2009
Rice and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton with Chinese foreign minister Yang Jiechi, September 26, 2011
Rice meets with Myanmar's opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, September 2012

At her confirmation hearing, Rice was introduced by Senator Susan Collins, Republican of Maine, who said "I can think better messenger than Dr. Susan Rice. I am honored to present her to this distinguished committee, and I enthusiastically endorse her nomination."[47] Rice was confirmed by the Senate by voice vote on January 22, 2009.[48][49] Rice became the second youngest person[46] and the first black woman to represent the U.S. at the UN.[50]

Rice meets with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, May 2014

During her tenure at the United Nations, Rice championed a human rights and anti-poverty agenda, elevated climate change and women's rights as global priorities, and committed the U.S. to agreements such as the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and the U.N. Millennium Development Goals. Rice led the fight to advance LGBT rights at the U.N. Human Rights Council and was recognized for her staunch defense of Israel at the Security Council.[51][52] Rice won praise for leading the Security Council to impose the toughest sanctions to date on Iran and North Korea over their nuclear programs, and for reaffirming U.S. commitment to the UN and multilateralism.[53]

Three Security Council diplomats took issue with Rice's negotiating style, calling it "rude" and overly blunt, while others attributed those criticisms to sexism. According to David Rothkopf of Foreign Policy magazine, Rice could be challenging to work with due to her "toughness"—in the mold of James Baker or Henry Kissinger—but had the asset of a close relationship with the U.S. president and proved to be an effective policymaker. Some human rights activists took issue with Rice and U.S. foreign policy generally in 2012 for working against UN statements that criticized Rwanda for supporting a rebel group in Congo known for committing atrocities.[54]

Libyan Civil War

As the 2011 Libyan Civil War progressed, the United States and its allies offered a choice for Colonel Muammar Gaddafi and his aides: step down from power or face an international response. Rice offered some of the toughest rhetoric toward Gaddafi, criticizing his denials of atrocities against his own citizens as "frankly, delusional."[55] In a closed-door Security Council meeting in April 2011, Rice reportedly stated that Gaddafi loyalists engaged in atrocities, including terrorizing the population with sexual violence, and that Gaddafi's troops has been issued Viagra.[56] Together with National Security Council figure Samantha Power, who already supported the U.S.-led military intervention in Libya, and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who came to support it, the three overcame internal opposition from Defense Secretary Robert Gates, security adviser Thomas E. Donilon, and counterterrorism adviser John Brennan, to have the administration advance a UN proposal to impose a no-fly zone over Libya and authorize other military actions as necessary.[18][57]

On March 17, 2011, the UK, France and Lebanon joined the U.S. to vote for United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973 while Brazil, Germany, and India joined permanent Security Council members China and Russia in abstaining. Rice and Clinton played major roles in gaining approval for the resolution.[18][58] Clinton said the same day that establishing a no-fly zone over Libya would require the bombing of air defenses. Rice said, "we are interested in a broad range of actions that will effectively protect civilians and increase the pressure on the Gaddafi regime to halt the killing and to allow the Libyan people to express themselves in their aspirations for the future freely and peacefully."[59]

Syrian Civil War

In January 2012, after the Russian and Chinese veto of another Security Council resolution calling on Syrian president Bashar al-Assad to step down, Rice strongly condemned both countries, saying, "They put a stake in the heart of efforts to resolve this conflict peacefully," and adding that "we the United States are standing with the people of Syria. Russia and China are obviously with Assad."[60] In her words, "the United States is disgusted that a couple of members of this Council continue to prevent us from fulfilling our sole purpose."[61]

2012 Benghazi attack

On September 11, 2012, a U.S. diplomatic facility and CIA annex in Benghazi, Libya, was attacked, resulting in the deaths of the United States ambassador to Libya J. Christopher Stevens, U.S. Foreign Service information management officer Sean Smith, and two former Navy SEALS, Glen Doherty and Tyrone S. Woods. On September 16, Rice appeared on five major interview shows to discuss the attacks. Prior to her appearance, Rice was provided with "talking points" from a CIA memo,[62] which stated:

  • The currently available information suggests that the demonstrations in Benghazi were spontaneously inspired by the protests at the U.S. embassy in Cairo and evolved into a direct assault against the U.S. diplomatic post and subsequently its annex. There are indications that extremists participated in the violent demonstrations.
  • This assessment may change as additional information is collected and analyzed and as currently available information continues to be evaluated.
  • The investigation is ongoing, and the U.S. government is working w/ Libyan authorities to help bring to justice those responsible for the deaths of U.S. citizens.[63]

Each of the eleven drafts of CIA talking points maintained that the attack was "spontaneously inspired" by a violent protest at the American embassy in Cairo, Egypt, hours earlier, which had been triggered by the release of an anti-Muslim video.[64] During the hours before the Benghazi attack, Egyptian satellite television networks popular in Benghazi had been covering the outrage over the video.[65] Using the CIA talking points as a guide, Rice stated on Face the Nation:

Based on the best information we have to date, what our assessment is as of the present is in fact what began spontaneously in Benghazi as a reaction to what had transpired some hours earlier in Cairo where, of course, as you know, there was a violent protest outside of our embassy—sparked by this hateful video. But soon after that spontaneous protest began outside of our consulate in Benghazi, we believe that it looks like extremist elements, individuals, joined in that—in that effort with heavy weapons of the sort that are, unfortunately, readily now available in Libya post-revolution. And that it spun from there into something much, much more violent. We do not—we do not have information at present that leads us to conclude that this was premeditated or preplanned. I think it's clear that there were extremist elements that joined in and escalated the violence.... Whether they were al Qaeda affiliates, whether they were Libyan-based extremists or al Qaeda itself I think is one of the things we'll have to determine.[66][67][68][69][70]

Since Rice's five television appearances, there have been persistent accusations that she had intentionally misled the public. However, none of the ten Benghazi investigations conducted by Congress—six by Republican-controlled House committees—determined she had. The Republican-controlled House Intelligence Committee's two-year investigation did not conclude that Rice or any other government official acted in bad faith or intentionally misled the American people. The Associated Press reported:

In the immediate aftermath of the attack, intelligence about who carried it out and why was contradictory, the report found. That led Susan Rice, then U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, to inaccurately assert that the attack had evolved from a protest, when in fact there had been no protest. But it was intelligence analysts, not political appointees, who made the wrong call, the committee found.[71]

A group of 97 House Republicans sent a letter to President Obama on November 19 to say Rice's statements were "misleading" and that she should accordingly not be considered a candidate to succeed Hillary Clinton in 2013 as Secretary of State.[72] Some Republican senators, who would have had a vote on whether to confirm Rice, also voiced objections and said their meetings with Rice at the end of November 2012 did not ease their concerns.[73][74][75] On December 13, 2012, in a letter to President Obama, Rice asked him to remove her name from consideration for Secretary of State, saying "if nominated, I am now convinced that the confirmation process would be lengthy, disruptive, and costly—to you and to our most pressing national and international priorities.... Therefore, I respectfully request that you no longer consider my candidacy at this time."[3]

United States national security advisor (2013–2017)

Rice and President Obama meet with Saudi Arabia's minister of the national guard, Prince Mutaib bin Abdullah, November 19, 2014

Rice was picked to succeed Tom Donilon as National Security Advisor following Donilon's resignation on June 5, 2013.[76] The position of National Security Advisor does not require Senate approval.[77] Rice was sworn in as the 24th national security advisor on July 1, 2013.[78]

In a trip to Cairo in early November 2013, Secretary of State John Kerry contradicted Susan Rice who had criticized the human rights violations in U.S.-aligned Egypt.[79] Rice condemned Egypt's Rabaa massacre, which took place on August 14, 2013, when Egyptian security forces killed over 1000 people during the violent dispersal of mass anti-government sit-ins at Cairo's Rabaa al-Adawiya and al-Nahda squares.[80]

Rice was close to Rwanda's president Paul Kagame;[81][82] some critics of the Obama administration's Africa policy faulted Rice for what they viewed as the U.S.'s failure to take action against Rwanda for its role in the Congolese crisis.[83]

In May 2014, Rice traveled to Israel for meetings with Israeli officials in which nuclear talks with Iran were discussed. Rice's visit, the first in her role as national security adviser, came after peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians collapsed. The Obama administration made clear that Rice's trip was part of regularly scheduled talks and that the stalled Middle East peace discussions were not on the agenda. However, White House spokesman Jay Carney said negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program would be on the agenda, among other topics.[84] In July 2014, Rice expressed support for Israel's right to defend itself during the 2014 Israel–Gaza conflict. She stated: "When countries single out Israel for unfair treatment at the UN, it isn't just a problem for Israel, it is a problem for all of us."[85]

Rice has been criticized for intensifying the Obama administration's conflicts with Israel during her time as National Security Advisor. Dennis Ross, a Middle East advisor to President Obama, criticized Rice's "combative mind-set" as opposed to her predecessor, Tom Donilon, who played a more conciliatory role. Ross writes that after Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu's public reprimand of the Obama administration's Iran negotiations, Rice fumed to Abe Foxman that, "in her view, the Israeli leader did everything but use 'the N-word' in describing the president."[86][87]

President Obama and Rice speaking with Russian president Vladimir Putin and Putin's interpreter on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in Antalya, Turkey, November 15, 2015

In releasing the 2015 National Security Strategy, Rice said that the United States was pursuing an "ambitious yet achievable agenda" overseas. She argued that U.S. leadership had been essential for success on issues including Ebola,[88] Iran's nuclear program, and sanctioning Russia over Ukraine. The document formed a blueprint for foreign policy, defense, and national security for the last two years of President Obama's term. It had previously been updated in 2010. In a letter outlining the strategy, President Obama said that the U.S. would "always defend our interests and uphold our commitments to allies and partners," adding, "But we have to make hard choices among many competing priorities and we must always resist the overreach that comes when we make decisions based upon fear."[89]

On a visit to Pakistan in 2015, Rice warned Pakistani political and military leaders that attacks in Afghanistan by militants based in Pakistan threatened regional security. Rice also delivered an invitation from President Obama for Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to visit the United States in October. The meetings came at a tense time for Pakistan's relations with neighboring Afghanistan and archrival India, along with uncertainty over whether the United States would release $300 million in military aid to Pakistan.[90]

In a 2015 speech on U.S.–China relations, Rice noted the problems of Chinese hacking, saying, "This is not a mild irritation. It is an economic and national security concern to the United States. It puts enormous strain on our bilateral relationship, and it is a critical factor in determining the future trajectory of U.S.–China ties."[91]

The Obama administration supported the Saudi-and Emirati-led intervention in Yemen and blockade of Yemen, but Rice opposed a coalition attack on the port city of Al Hudaydah and personally called UAE crown prince Mohammed bin Zayed to stop the planned offensive.[92]

Rice was a long time supporter of South Sudanese independence, including of initial U.S. aid to the government of president Salva Kiir Mayardit.[93][94] When the South Sudanese Civil War broke out in 2013 between President Kiir's forces and forces led by vice president Riek Machar, the U.S. continued its support for the Kiir administration despite reports from U.S. embassy staff of atrocities committed by the government.[95][96] Rice ultimately joined calls for an arms embargo against South Sudan in 2016, but the measure failed to win passage at the UN Security Council.[97][98]:397

Post-Obama administration

Rice shakes hands with National Security Advisor Designate Michael Flynn on January 10, 2017
Rice at the Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library in 2019

On March 8, 2017, Rice joined American University as a distinguished visiting research fellow in the School of International Service (SIS) at the university. In her residency she planned to work on her next book and mentoring young SIS students.[99]

On April 3, 2017, Eli Lake reported in Bloomberg View that as National Security Advisor, Rice had requested that the identities of some Americans mentioned in intelligence reports related to the campaign and presidential transition of Donald Trump be unmasked.[100] Any request for an American's identity to be unmasked required approval by the National Security Agency; NSA director Michael Rogers said the NSA evaluated each request to determine "Is there a valid need to know in the course of the execution of their official duties?" and "Is the identification necessary to truly understand the context of the intelligence value that the report is designed to generate?"[101] Rice said that she asked for identities of U.S. persons to be revealed to provide context to the intelligence reports, and not for political purposes.[102][103]

The report of Rice unmasking Trump officials followed the announcement of the chair of the House Intelligence Committee, Republican Devin Nunes, "that he had seen reports indicating that Mr. Trump or his associates might have been 'incidentally' swept up in the monitoring of foreigners."[103] The Committee was investigating both Trump's ties to Russian attempts to influence the 2016 election and Trump's allegations that President Obama had Trump Tower under surveillance.[100] Lake's April 3 report of the unmasking specified "Rice's requests to unmask the names of Trump transition officials do not vindicate Trump's own tweets from March 4 in which he accused Obama of illegally tapping Trump Tower."[100] Nevertheless, some Republicans called for an investigation into the unmasking while Democrats said that the unmasking story was a diversion from the Russian influence investigation.[103]

After members of the House and Senate Intelligence Committees were able to view the material on which Nunes based his assertions, both Democrats and Republicans familiar with the material said that there was "no evidence that Obama administration officials did anything unusual or illegal."[104][105][106] Congressional intelligence sources called Rice's unmasking requests "normal and appropriate" for a national security adviser.[104]

In August 2017, Eli Lake reported in Bloomberg View that Rice's successor as National Security Adviser, H. R. McMaster, "has concluded that Rice did nothing wrong."[107]

Rice testified to the House Intelligence Committee in September 2017 that she requested the unmasking because of a redacted report provided by the intelligence services concerning an undisclosed visit to the United States by United Arab Emirates crown prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan in December 2016. During the visit al-Nahyan met with Steve Bannon, Michael Flynn and Jared Kushner at Trump Tower in New York. Rice's testimony appeared to allay the concerns of Republicans, with Committee member Mike Conaway stating, "She was a good witness, answered all our questions. I'm not aware of any reason to bring her back."[108][109]

On March 28, 2018, Rice was appointed to the board of directors at Netflix.[110]

Rice criticized the United States' close relationship with Saudi Arabia despite murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, Saudi Arabia's human rights abuses, Saudi Arabia's diplomatic dispute with Canada, Saudi Arabian-led intervention in Yemen and Saudi Arabian-led blockade against Qatar.[111][112] In a New York Times article "A Partner We Can’t Depend On,"[113] Rice wrote: "If we fail to punish [Saudi crown prince Bin Salman] directly and target only those around him, the crown prince will be further emboldened to take extreme actions."[114] Rice also criticized Trump's decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria, which critics say gave Turkey the green light to invade and occupy northern Syria and attack Kurdish forces who assisted the U.S. in the destruction of the Islamic State.[115]

After U.S. Senator Susan Collins from Maine voted to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, Rice publicly considered challenging Collins in 2020,[116][117] before announcing in April 2019 that she would not run for Senate.[118] Collins, a crucial vote to confirm Rice’s possible nomination to become Secretary of State in 2013, said in November 2012 that she was “troubled by the fact that the UN ambassador decided to play what was essentially a political role at the height of a contentious presidential agreeing to go on the Sunday shows to present the administration's position” days after the Benghazi attack.[119] By the time of Collins’ remarks, it had been reported that Rice had recited CIA talking points on the Sunday shows, rather than White House or State Department talking points.[120] At the time, the CIA was headed by David Petraeus, a former four-star general who was held in high regard by conservatives.[121][122]

Rice has criticized Israeli proposals to annex parts of the West Bank and Jordan Valley, stating that such a move would make it more difficult to sustain traditionally bipartisan support for Israel in the United States.[123] Rice takes the view that a two-state solution is the only way to keep Israel both a Jewish and democratic state.[123]

In July 2020, it was widely reported that Rice was under consideration to be Joe Biden's vice presidential running mate in the 2020 general election.[124] However, Kamala Harris was selected as Biden's running mate on August 11, 2020.


Rice is a distinguished visiting research fellow at American University's School of International Service and non-resident senior fellow at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government.[99][125] She is also a contributing opinion writer for the New York Times.[126] Rice currently serves on the board of Netflix and is a member of the Aspen Strategy Group,[127] American Academy of Diplomacy,[128] and Council on Foreign Relations.[129]

Rice has previously served on the boards of several organizations, including the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts,[130] Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies at Stanford University,[131] Bureau of National Affairs, Inc. (Bloomberg BNA),[132] Partnership for Public Service,[133] National Democratic Institute, U.S. Fund for UNICEF,[33] Atlantic Council,[134] and Internews Network.[135][136]

Personal life

Rice married Canadian-born former ABC News executive producer Ian Officer Cameron[137] on September 12, 1992, at the St. Albans School chapel.[15] They met as students at Stanford.[138] The couple have two children: a daughter and son.[11][13][133][139]

Rice is an avid tennis player.[140]

Honors and awards

Rice was inducted into Stanford's Black Alumni Hall of Fame in 2002.[14] In 2017, Rice was presented with the award of Commander of the Legion of Honour of France, by French president François Hollande for her contributions to Franco-American relations.[141]

Foreign honors

Foreign honors
Country Date Decoration Post-nominal letters
 France 2017 – Present Commander of the Legion of Honour


University Degrees
Location Date School Degree
 California 1986 Stanford University Honors Bachelor of Arts (BA) in History
 England 1988 New College, Oxford Master of Philosophy (M.Phil) in International Relations
 England 1990 New College, Oxford Doctor of Philosophy (D.Phil) in International Relations
Chancellor, visitor, governor, rector and fellowships
Location Date School Position
 England 2014 – Present New College, Oxford Honorary Fellow[142]
 District of Columbia March 2017 – Present The School of International Service at American University Distinguished Visiting Research Fellow[143]
 Massachusetts September 2017 – Present The Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard University Senior Fellow[125]

Honorary degrees

Honorary degrees
Location Date School Degree Gave Commencement Address
 Georgia (U.S. state) 2010 Spelman College Doctorate[144] Yes[145]
 District of Columbia 2012 Howard University Doctor of Laws (LL.D)[146] No
 Maine May 2018 Bowdoin College Doctor of Laws (LL.D)[147][148]

Memberships and fellowships

Location Date Organisation Position
 District of Columbia 2002–2009 Brookings Institution Senior Fellow


  • Rice, Susan Elizabeth (1990). The Commonwealth Initiative in Zimbabwe, 1979–1980: Implications for International Peacekeeping, doctoral thesis, New College, Oxford University.
  • Rice, Susan E., Corinne Graff, and Carlos Pascual, editors (2010). Confronting Poverty: Weak States and U.S. National Security, Brookings Institution Press, Washington, D.C.[149]
  • Rice, Susan (2019). Tough Love: My Story of the Things Worth Fighting For, memoir, Simon & Schuster, New York.[16]


  1. ^ "Susan Rice likely Hillary Clinton replacement". CBS News. November 12, 2012. Retrieved November 13, 2012.
  2. ^ DeYoung, Karen; Miller, Greg (November 13, 2012). "Obama considering John Kerry for job of defense secretary". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on December 8, 2012. Retrieved November 12, 2012.
  3. ^ a b Connor, Tracy (December 13, 2012). "Susan Rice drops out of running for secretary of state, cites 'very politicized' confirmation process". NBC News.
  4. ^ Martin, Jonathan; Burns, Alexander; Glueck, Katie (July 31, 2020). "Lobbying Intensifies Among V.P. Candidates as Biden's Search Nears an End" – via
  5. ^ a b c d e f "The Meteoric Rise of the State Department's Susan Rice." The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education: 20 (Summer 1998), pp. 40–41.
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  9. ^ O'Neal Parker, Lonnae (March 30, 1998). "At the State Department, Susan Rice Has Trained Her Sights on U.S. African Policy". The Washington Post. Retrieved April 24, 2020.
  10. ^ Brant, Martha (January–February 2000). "Feature Story – Into Africa". Stanford Magazine. Stanford Alumni Association. Retrieved December 4, 2008.
  11. ^ a b "Susan Elizabeth Rice". Who's Who. Marquis Who's Who. 2007. pp. K2014871257. Retrieved May 14, 2008.
  12. ^ MacFarquhar, Neil. "Susan E. Rice" (Reference). The New York Times. Times Topics: People. Retrieved December 3, 2008.
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  14. ^ a b "Black Community Services Center Hall of Fame." Stanford Alumni Association.
  15. ^ a b "Weddings; Susan E. Rice, Ian Cameron". The New York Times. September 13, 1992. Retrieved February 24, 2014.
  16. ^ a b c d e f Rice, Susan (2019). Tough Love: My Story of the Things Worth Fighting For. New York: Simon and Schuster.
  17. ^ Power, Samantha (September 2001). "Bystanders to Genocide" (Article). The Atlantic. Retrieved December 2, 2008.
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  19. ^ Carney, Timothy (March 28, 2011) Obama aides find moral clarity in Libya's foggy war Archived March 28, 2011, at the Wayback Machine, The Washington Examiner
  20. ^ Golomb, Robert (January 2019). "Susan Rice: An Enabler of Genocide Mulls A 2020 Run for U.S. Senate" (Article). The Published Reporter. Retrieved January 14, 2019.
  21. ^ Carney, Timothy; Ijaz, Mansoor (June 30, 2002). "Intelligence Failure? Let's Go Back to Sudan". The Washington Post. Retrieved December 1, 2008. Retrieved from Jan. 2015.
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  27. ^ "Abiola's death – an eyewitness account". BBC News. July 7, 1998.
  28. ^ Brett Stephens (December 10, 2012), The Other Susan Rice File The Wall Street Journal
  29. ^ Dorman, Andrew M. (2009). Blair's Successful War: British Military Intervention in Sierra Leone. Farnham: Ashgate Publishing. pp. 115–117. ISBN 9780754672999.
  30. ^ "Susan Rice, Former White House and State Department Senior Official, Joins Brookings Institution". Brookings Institution. Retrieved June 4, 2020.
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  35. ^ Author: Susan E. Rice, Brookings Institution (last accessed July 12, 2020).
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  39. ^ "Powell's Address to the U.N. Security Council – Reaction". The Tavis Smiley Show. NPR. February 6, 2003.
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  41. ^ Pickert, Kate (December 2, 2008). "U.N. Ambassador: Susan E. Rice". Time.
  42. ^ Milbank, Dan (November 16, 2012). "Susan Rice's tarnished resume". The Washington Post.
  43. ^ Sweet, Lynn (November 5, 2008). "Jarrett, Podesta, Rouse to lead Obama transition; Bill Daley co-chair". Chicago Sun-Times. The scoop from Washington. Archived from the original (Blog) on December 10, 2008. Retrieved December 5, 2008.
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  48. ^ PN64-13 – Susan E. Rice – Department of State, 111th Congress (2009–2010),
  49. ^ PN64-14 – Susan E. Rice – Department of State, 111th Congress (2009–2010),
  50. ^ Lederer, Edith M. (December 1, 2008). "Trusted Obama adviser Susan Rice is first black woman named to be US envoy to UN". Star Tribune. Associated Press. Archived from the original on December 5, 2008.
  51. ^ Rice, Susan. "Remarks by National Security Advisor Susan E. Rice at American University on Global LGBTQ Rights". The White House. Retrieved May 19, 2020.
  52. ^ Guttman, Nathan. "Susan Rice Wins Over Israel Supporters". Forward. Retrieved May 19, 2020.
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  54. ^ Cooper, Helene (December 9, 2012). "U.N. Ambassador Questioned on U.S. Role in Congo Violence". The New York Times.
  55. ^ Youngman, Sam (February 28, 2011). "UN ambassador: Gadhafi 'delusional'". The Hill. Retrieved November 14, 2012.
  56. ^ Louis Charbonneau, U.S. envoy: Gaddafi troops raping, issued Viagra, Reuters (April 29, 2011).
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  60. ^ Cohn, Alicia M. (February 6, 2012). "Amb. Rice says Russia, China will 'come to regret' vetoing UN Syria resolution". The Hill. Retrieved November 14, 2012.
  61. ^ "U.N. rights council condemns Syrian abuses". CNN. February 4, 2012. Archived from the original on February 6, 2012.
  62. ^ Schmitt, Eric (October 21, 2012). "Explanation for Benghazi Attack Under Scrutiny". The New York Times. Archived from the original on October 26, 2012. Retrieved October 27, 2012.
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  65. ^ "A Deadly Mix in Benghazi". December 28, 2013 – via
  66. ^ "'Face the Nation' transcripts, September 16, 2012: Libyan Pres. Magariaf, Amb. Rice and Sen. McCain".
  67. ^ "Ambassador Susan Rice: Libya Attack Not Premeditated". ABC News. September 16, 2012. Archived from the original on September 22, 2012. Retrieved September 23, 2012.
  68. ^ "Ambassador Rice spends Sunday reinforcing White House position that Middle East violence was 'spontaneous'". Fox News Channel. September 16, 2012. Archived from the original on September 22, 2012. Retrieved September 23, 2012.
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  72. ^ Ure, Laurie. "Republicans Increase Pressure on Obama over Rice", CNN. Cable News Network, November 20, 2012. Retrieved February 12, 2016.
  73. ^ O'Keefe, Ed (November 26, 2012), "Susan Rice meets Tuesday with John McCain, Lindsey Graham, Kelly Ayotte", Washington Post.
  74. ^ "Republican senators say Rice meeting just leaves more questions unanswered", Fox News, November 27, 2012.
  75. ^ O'Keefe, Ed (November 28, 2012), "Susan Rice meets with more GOP critics", Washington Post.
  76. ^ Memmott, Mark (June 5, 2013), Shakeup: Susan Rice To Be Obama's National Security Adviser, National Public Radio
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  78. ^ "Susan Rice joins White House as National Security Advisor". The Economic Times. July 2, 2013. Retrieved August 18, 2013.
  79. ^ "Tensions between John Kerry and Susan Rice may be at core of 'muddled' U.S. policy on Egypt". National Post. November 22, 2013.
  80. ^ "Exclusive: John Kerry Defies the White House on Egypt Policy". Daily Beast. November 18, 2013.
  81. ^ "How Rice dialed down the pressure on Rwanda". Foreign Policy. December 3, 2012.
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  83. ^ "Susan Rice's Paul Kagame Problem". Daily Beast. July 14, 2017.
  84. ^ Felsenthal, Mark (May 6, 2014). "Iran on agenda for White House aide talks in Israel". Washington. Retrieved September 2, 2015.
  85. ^ Lewis, Paul (July 29, 2014). "Susan Rice launches staunch defence of Israel despite 'alarming' Gaza death toll". The Guardian.
  86. ^ "How Obama Got to 'Yes' on Iran: The Inside Story". Politico. October 8, 2015. Retrieved April 11, 2016.
  87. ^ Ross, Dennis (2015). Doomed to Succeed: The U.S.-Israel Relationship from Truman to Obama. Macmillan. p. 366. ISBN 9780374709488.
  88. ^ Hounshell, Blake, What Ebola Taught Susan Rice About the Next Pandemic, Politico, August 4, 2020.
  89. ^ "Susan Rice: US has ambitious but achievable agenda". BBC News. February 6, 2015. Retrieved September 2, 2015.
  90. ^ "US national security advisor warns Pakistan on recent militant attacks". Reuters. August 30, 2017. Retrieved April 4, 2017.
  91. ^ "National Security Advisor Susan E. Rice's As Prepared Remarks on the U.S.-China Relationship at George Washington University". September 21, 2015. Retrieved April 4, 2017.
  92. ^ Emmons, Alex (June 18, 2018). "The U.S. Is Exacerbating the World's Worst Humanitarian Crisis by Outsourcing Its Yemen Policy". The Intercept.
  93. ^ "Inside the White House Fight Over the Slaughter in South Sudan". Foreign Policy. January 26, 2015.
  94. ^ "Both Sides Are At Fault: Susan Rice On South Sudan's Civil War". NPR. March 8, 2016.
  95. ^ Shackelford, Elizabeth (May 12, 2020). The Dissent Channel American Diplomacy in a Dishonest Age. Public Affairs.
  96. ^ "Book Review – The Dissent Channel: American Diplomacy in a Dishonest Age". Global Policy Journal. July 3, 2020.
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  100. ^ a b c Lake, Eli (April 3, 2017). "Susan Rice Sought Names of Trump Associates in Intel". Bloomberg View. Retrieved April 5, 2017.
  101. ^ Lizza, Ryan (April 4, 2017). "Susan Rice and the Latest Bogus Attempt to Justify Trump's Wiretapping Tweet". The New Yorker.
  102. ^ Shabad, Rebecca (April 4, 2017). "Susan Rice says unmasking of names wasn't for political purposes".
  103. ^ a b c Baker, Peter (April 4, 2017). "Susan Rice, Ex-National Security Adviser, Now in Spotlight in Surveillance Debate". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved April 5, 2017.
  104. ^ a b Jim Sciutto, Manu Raju and Eric Bradner. "Classified docs contradict Nunes surveillance claims, GOP and Dem sources say". CNN. Retrieved April 20, 2017.
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  134. ^ "The Atlantic Council of the United States – Board Members". The Atlantic Council of the United States. Archived from the original on April 15, 2008. Retrieved May 13, 2008.
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  139. ^ Kabbany, Jennifer (May 29, 2018). "The conservative leader at Stanford – is Susan Rice's son". The College Fix. Student Free Press Association. Retrieved February 28, 2019.
  140. ^ Fletcher, Michael A. (June 29, 2016). "Susan Rice Talks Diversity, Sports and Night Fears". The Undefeated. ESPN Internet Ventures. Retrieved April 5, 2017.
  141. ^ "Former UN Ambassador and National Security Advisor Susan E. Rice Joins Belfer Center as Senior Fellow". Harvard Kennedy School. Retrieved June 4, 2020.
  142. ^ "Emeritus, Honorary and Wykeham Fellows | New College".
  143. ^ "Ambassador Susan Rice Joins American University School of International Service". American University. Washington DC.
  144. ^ "Honorary Degree Recipients 1977–Present" (PDF). Spelman College.
  145. ^ "Susan Rice 2010 Commencement Address | Spelman College".
  146. ^
  147. ^ "Special Collections & Archives: Bowdoin Honorary Degree Recipients".
  148. ^ "Bowdoin to Award Three Honorary Degrees at Commencement | Bowdoin News Archive".
  149. ^ Rice, Susan; Graff, Corinne; Pascual, Carlos (eds.). Confronting Poverty. Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution Press. Retrieved June 4, 2020.

External links

Political offices
Preceded by
George Moose
Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs
Succeeded by
Walter Kansteiner
Preceded by
Tom Donilon
National Security Advisor
Succeeded by
Mike Flynn
Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Zalmay Khalilzad
United States Ambassador to the United Nations
Succeeded by
Rosemary DiCarlo


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