Clinton calls in sick again, innoculating possible 2016 run against Obama Middle East policy

The meeting was marred when the coalition’s leader asked the United States to not exclude an prominent jihadi group that was created by al-Qaida’ affiliate in next-door Iraq.

The jihadi group — the al-Nusra Front for the People of the Levant — is fighting alongside the Syrian coalition, and is expected to compete for power if Syria’s Iran-backed dictatorship collapses.

Immediately after the Sept. 11 jihad attack, Clinton declined invitations from several weekend TV shows to explain the administration’s Arab-region strategy.

She “was unavailable after a grueling week,” according to a Dec. 13 statement by U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice. (RELATED: Rice withdraws from secretary of state consideration)

Because Clinton did not go on the shows, White House officials — likely including Obama — decided to send Rice out to defend the administration’s strategy.

Once on TV, Rice made the controversial claim that intelligence sources indicated the Sept. 11 jihad attack was prompted by Muslims’ anger over a little-known anti-Islam video posted on YouTube by a California-based immigrant.

Rice made the claim despite after-action reports by U.S. officials in Libya that a local jihad group had led the attacks.

Administration officials, including Obama, repeated the claim numerous time for two weeks. On Sept. 25, for example, Obama told the United Nations General Assembly that “the future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam.”

Obama has largely escaped criticism for his policy of blaming the California film producer for the actions of North African jihadis — even through the president reversed himself during the 2012 election campaign and claimed that he had always blamed the attacks on jihadis. (RELATED VIDEO: Did White House edit Benghazi report?)

But on Dec. 13, Rice quit her bid for Clinton’s job when Senate Democrats declined to defend her Sept. 16 claims. In contrast, Clinton has avoided any blowback from the controversial claim that the video spurred the attacks.