In interview, Susan Rice explains role in WH decision-making; ‘People know not to mess with me’

In a book written by a lifelong friend of U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice, the diplomat who may soon be a Secretary of State nominee explained that she routinely confers with President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton before making decisions.

She also explained that “people know not to mess with me. And if they haven’t learned, and they try, then they will learn.”

The interview provides new insight into the communications and briefing procedures likely employed by the White House after the Sept. 11, 2012 attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya.

Rice has said that during her now infamous Sept. 16 appearances on five Sunday television shows that she received and adhered to talking points from members of the intelligence community.

During those appearances, she insisted that the Benghazi attack was the result of a spontaneous street protest started over discontent with a YouTube video, despite reportedly knowing at the time that al-Qaida may have been involved in the attack.

In the 2012 book interview, Rice described her role as an active member of the president’s decision-making team.

“One of the most important ways I make a difference is being part of making the decisions that determine how we approach key issues or challenges in the world, getting to execute them, and doing it in a way that tries to build consensus rather than creating confrontation,” Rice told fellow Rhodes Scholar and long-time friend Bonnie St. John in “How Great Women Lead: A Mother-Daughter Adventure Into the Lives of Women Shaping the World.”

“Here at the UN I have some freedom to figure out how I’m going to do things, not just take orders. I participate in the decisions about what we’re going to do. That’s one of the really gratifying things about this job.”

St. John and Rice have been friends since 1986. The book was published in April 2012, and quotes Rice extensively about how decisions are made, how she makes them, and about her time as U.N. ambassador.

Under pressure from Republican senators for answers to why Rice delivered false information to the American public, President Obama pushed back during a November 18 press conference, arguing that she had “nothing to do with Benghazi.”

That claim was startling given Rice’s role as the top Obama surrogate tasked with explaining the attack’s origins. And Rice’s book interview revealed that she works closely with both the White House and State Department to craft strategies when national interests are at stake.