President Obama condemns attack that killed U.S. ambassador to Libya
The attack on the Benghazi consulate took place as hundreds of protesters in neighboring Egypt scaled the walls of the U.S. Embassy in Cairo and tore down and replaced the American flag with a black Islamic banner.
The attacks in Benghazi and Cairo were the first such assaults on U.S. diplomatic facilities in either country, at a time when both Libya and Egypt are struggling to overcome the turmoil following the ouster of their longtime authoritarian leaders, Moammar Gadhafi and Hosni Mubarak, in uprisings last year.
The protests in both countries were sparked by outrage over a film ridiculing Muhammad produced by an Israeli filmmaker living in California and being promoted by an extreme anti-Muslim Egyptian Christian campaigner in the United States. Excerpts from the film dubbed into Arabic were posted on YouTube.
1. Sarah wrote:
RE: “an extreme anti-Muslim Egyptian Christian campaigner . . . “
Well . . . if USA Today says that this was an extreme anti-Muslim Egyptian Christian campaigner, then it must be so.
September 12, 9:34 am | [comment link]
2. Phil wrote:
This is outrageous, and no “condemnation.” Any statement under these circumstances that includes, “While the United States rejects efforts to denigrate the religious beliefs of others…” means nothing more than, “It’s America’s fault.”
This administration’s incompetence and craven groveling before our worst enemies is beyond the caricatures of its worst political opponents.
September 12, 9:41 am | [comment link]
3. Sarah wrote:
US ambassador to Libya murdered.
Ah, “Arab Spring.”
And I love the Muslim Brotherhood’s [you know, the victorious party of the “Arab Spring” that has brought such peace and stability to the region] statement: “The film is certainly a blatant violation of religious sanctities, international norms and conventions on human rights which emphasize that freedom of expression with respect to religion must be restricted by controls within the law that safeguard public interest, in order to protect lives, morals, rights and freedoms,” the statement said.”
Yes—the “controls” against freedom of expression must exist to “safeguard public interest” and “protect lives”—because otherwise the proponents of the Religion of Peace and the winners of the Arab Spring kill people.
And murdered dead people certainly are not in the “public interest” . . . so let’s restrict speech and force everybody to speak well of our Religion of Peace or else “lives won’t be protected.”
What a crock.
September 12, 9:51 am | [comment link]
4. Phil wrote:
And Hillary drones on just now that, “This is an attack that should shock the conscience” of people around the world. I think it would be progress if it would shock the conscience of our President.
Other than that, her statement is just platitudes about the brave members of the Foreign Service and their nobility, sentiments that would be perfectly appropriate if Ambassador Stevens had been killed in a Cairo traffic circle or had fallen from a cliff while hiking in the Egyptian desert.
September 12, 10:05 am | [comment link]
5. Sarah wrote:
Oh, and I see that the Arab Spring winners also dragged our ambassador’s corpse around.
RE: “While the United States rejects efforts to denigrate the religious beliefs of others…”
No, actually “the United States” citizens do *not* “reject efforts to denigrate the religious beliefs of others.” In fact, we accept efforts to denigrate the religious beliefs of others as a right which we will defend and a freedom which we relish. Whether you are a Christian Scientist, a Scientologist, a Muslim, a Mormon, or a Christian, your “religious beliefs” *will* be denigrated.
There is no right—none whatsoever—to not have one’s religious beliefs “denigrated.”
What an outrageous and unconscionable statement. How dare he foster such a dysfunctional and false delusion by those who are Muslims that they have a right to expect no denigration of their religion.
September 12, 10:19 am | [comment link]
6. Frank Fuller wrote:
I dunno, Sarah. If political correctness isn’t a reintroduction of the old blaphemy laws, it’s pretty darn close to it. It’s only working on college campuses and the penalty is only banishment, not actual burning at the stake or anything. But it’s early yet….
September 12, 11:18 am | [comment link]
7. Yebonoma wrote:
Surprising that POTUS made no mention of Cairo events in his remarks this morning. I was glad that Romney at least made reference to our constitutional rights to free speech. I must admit that after seeing the movie 2016, Obama’s foreign policy moves and statements seem to make sense when viewed within the anti-colonialist Obama world view theory advanced by Dinesh D’souza.
The biggest question on my mind is where are all the “moderate” Muslims that Obama assured us would welcome his “new” relationship with the Islamic world?
September 12, 12:09 pm | [comment link]
9. Alta Californian wrote:
Times were we’d stand together at a time like this. Instead, some would rather score political points. I’ve never been so disgusted with American politics.
September 12, 3:03 pm | [comment link]
10. Br. Michael wrote:
I’ve never been so disgusted with a so called American President who subordinates everything to his re-election.
September 12, 3:10 pm | [comment link]
11. Alta Californian wrote:
And everyone’s response here, myself included, were to jump to political conclusions rather than focus our prayers on those lost, those in grief, those still in danger, and (per the instructions of our Lord Jesus Christ) for the perpetrators. We all ran to our own biases and hatred, and none of us willing to bear the cross. I need a shower, and at this moment feel like swimming the Tiber just so I can go to Confession (sure we have the Sacrament of Reconciliation, but when was the last time anyone not on their deathbed actually asked for it).
September 12, 3:12 pm | [comment link]
12. Phil wrote:
Alta Californian, you’re no. 11 makes a valid point. I regretfully admit that events of yesterday made me so angry that prayer was not the first thing that came to my mind.
But I disagree with your no. 9. It isn’t political point-scoring to point out as plainly as one can that our leaders are doing a bad job - a bad, bad job. This is about our country - us - not President Obama, and not his party. If he can’t cut it, he needs to go, before things get a whole lot worse. That’s the thing Americans should be standing together on. And we cannot sit here, and hold hands, and sing “Kumbaya” just so that everybody has a happy face. This is real life. I have no obligation to support any politician, Democrat, Republican, or other, at the expense of the safety and security of my country - of which our embassies are part.
September 12, 3:52 pm | [comment link]
13. Sarah wrote:
RE: “And everyone’s response here, myself included, were to jump to political conclusions . . . “
What on earth are “political conclusions”—other than “conclusions” and “assessments of actions and their results”?
Unless Alta means “conclusions” and “assessments” about the actions of a President in the party of the Democrats.
RE: “rather than focus our prayers . . . “
Not certain why people can’t assess and pray both. Perhaps some are not coordinated enough to do that, but others are.
RE: “none of us willing to bear the cross.”
Let Alta speak for himself regarding that.
RE: “I need a shower, and at this moment feel like swimming the Tiber just so I can go to Confession (sure we have the Sacrament of Reconciliation, but when was the last time anyone not on their deathbed actually asked for it).”
Feel free to get a shower and engage in the Sacrament of Reconciliation—which I have engaged in and not on my deathbed either. So far I see a commenter wildly condemning other commenters who are assessing actions and consequences of actions regarding an attack that murdered four people. And then somebody talking about showers and confessions and “political conclusions.”
RE: “I’ve never been so disgusted with American politics.”
And I’ve never been so repulsed at certain politicians and their supporters.
But I’m not particularly interested in comparing feelings about irrelevancies.
September 12, 4:54 pm | [comment link]
14. Alta Californian wrote:
I don’t recommend Kumbaya (though I do recall bipartisan singing on the Capital steps 11 years ago). What I do recommend is taking a moment, mourning the dead, and taking full measure of the situation before launching into baseless partisan BS. It happens to be what we did on 9/11.
September 12, 4:54 pm | [comment link]
15. Alta Californian wrote:
You’re right Sarah, I am angry, and that is unfortunately coming through. “Conclusions” was the wrong word. “Rhetoric” may be more appropriate. The first reaction on a blog devoted to faith was not Christian reflection or condolence, it was political rhetoric. I continue to find that disappointing. And I am disappointed in myself for contributing to it.
Might I say, that you have engaged in the Sacrament of Reconciliation only makes me admire you even more than I already do. I have always felt we should make more use of it than we do.
September 12, 5:29 pm | [comment link]
16. maxg wrote:
Interesting—the consensus reaction in foreign policy circles, liberal and conservative, has been that the reaction of Hillary Clinton and Obama was entirely appropriate, or, in the words of John McCain regarding Clinton, “just the right message and tone.” Romney, on the other hand, is having criticism heaped upon him from all corners for seeming to attack the President of the United States while the violence was still occurring, breaking the longstanding tradition (one followed by the Republican Congressional leadership in this case) that when it comes to acts of war such as this, it is important for our country to present a unified front. (Not to mention seeming to get some basic facts about the chronology of events wrong in the process of their haste to politicize.)
My (pointed, to be sure, but sincerely meant) question then: Is it so important that we move in lockstep with Romney that we overlook these basic interpretations of texts and the usual decencies? I don’t think we do any credit to ourselves in doing so, and my esteem for Romney and those (very few) Republicans who followed him off the ledge has gone down considerably.
Personally, I don’t see how a statement supporting religious toleration (something we Christians are fighting hard for in the Middle East) is out of place in the statement, especially when merely a preamble to a vigorous statement condemning the violence, and, I have no doubt, military action on the ground that we are necessarily not party to.
September 12, 7:33 pm | [comment link]
17. Boniface wrote:
Obama’s response was the same as Bush’s response during the Danish cartoon terrorist attacks. I believe both were right.
September 12, 9:21 pm | [comment link]
18. Sarah wrote:
Good point, Boniface—I disagreed with Bush’s response at the time, and disagree with Obama’s today and conservatives were vocal about the cartoon responses then as well. So we’re being entirely consistent.
RE: “Is it so important that we move in lockstep with Romney . . . “
I’m not sure I follow. I hadn’t read Romney’s response when I responded, and I’m indifferent to what he says, and I won’t be voting for him anyway. The only person to mention Romney on this thread, prior to your comment, was #7.
RE: “Personally, I don’t see how a statement supporting religious toleration (something we Christians are fighting hard for in the Middle East) is out of place in the statement . . . “
Understood—but as the statement was in support of limiting speech, rather than “religious toleration” and as we are not at all “fighting hard” for limiting people’s rights to “denigrate the religious beliefs of others…” in the Middle East, but rather are “fighting hard” for Muslims not to kill Christians, I’m not certain why anyone would bring up a fictional statement about “religious toleration” as opposed to the actual statement decrying people having the right to “denigrate the religious beliefs of others…”.
September 12, 9:55 pm | [comment link]
19. Cennydd13 wrote:
This happened on Obama’s watch, and he has to take ultimate responsibility for it. Will he? I doubt it. The time to stop treating this kind of atrocity with kid gloves is NOW, and the handwringing in Washington has to stop immediately. Strong action is needed to ensure that something like this never happens again, but does this president have the courage to put an end to it? We shall see, won’t we?
September 12, 9:57 pm | [comment link]
20. NoVA Scout wrote:
What’s the source of this story that the Ambassador’s corpse was dragged through the streets of Benghazi (as in No. 5, supra)? Matt Kennedy also claimed that on Stand Firm, but the link was to an article showing people trying to help the guy, still living. The link and other press stories claimed that Libyans brought him to a local hospital where he died of smoke inhalation. What am I missing here?
September 12, 10:18 pm | [comment link]
21. Sarah wrote:
I hesitate to post a link to the pics, NoVA. They are quite graphic and it’s obvious that 1) he’s as dead as can be, and 2) they’re not “helping,” they’re dragging, taking pictures with their cute little iphones, and flaunting his body through the street. At least, I’ve never “helped” anyone in that manner when I had to carry them somewhere . . . maybe it’s the special “Islamic Jihad mob” method of “helping” and “carrying to the hospital.”
But it’s a nice try by the administration and their partners in Libya. A little late, as the photos have gone everywhere.
September 12, 10:43 pm | [comment link]
22. Yebonoma wrote:
While everyone is busting on Romney and lauding Clinton & Obama, how about the fact that we can publicly wring our hands about the hurt feelings of Muslims, but I don’t hear the State Department or anyone else in the regime publicly rebuking the Egyptians for their crusade against the Coptic Christians which has resulted in physical injury and death to members of this minority community in Egypt. Come on all you liberals, you’re always whining about the rights of minorities. The Coptic Christians are even more victimized than the Muslims. Where is your outrage?
September 12, 11:40 pm | [comment link]
23. Cennydd13 wrote:
Unfortunately, it’s nowhere to be found. Fellow Christians are targeted, and the liberals say nothing!
September 13, 12:09 am | [comment link]
24. C. Wingate wrote:
That, Yebonoma, does not appear to be the administration’s fault. I type “obama coptic christians” into Google, and after the inevitable Newsmax story (and they are untrustworthy, as they have a history of misrepresenting this kind of story) the second hit is from an Egyptian paper reporting an Obama statement, and the third is from the White House itself.
September 13, 7:24 am | [comment link]
25. NoVA Scout wrote:
So the linked story is not true that the man died at the hospital from smoke inhalation? I still am not sure where the “Corpse dragged through the streets” idea is coming from, other than Sarah and Matt. It’s the kind of thing that one would want to know for sure before extrapolating it from a picture the caption for which is that the people were trying to help the Ambassador. The story is bad enough without sensationalizing it further.
September 13, 7:47 am | [comment link]
26. Sarah wrote:
There are multiple pictures all over the Internet, not just one. If people want to see “where the ... idea is coming from, other than Sarah and Matt” [heh] they’re perfectly welcome to google the words “body in street christopher stevens.” I’d like to be able to reassure everybody [other than the Perpetually Feignedly Confused] that “Sarah and Matt” do not have enough influence and power to propagate “the idea” out there to the world so rapidly, pervasively, and broadly through all of cyberspace . . . ..
That being said, I’m perfectly comfortable with NoVA’s claiming that he believes that it was all just a dreadful accident, that he died from smoke inhalation, and that all the pictures of his body are his alive body being “helped” to the hospital. Makes no odds to me.
September 13, 8:08 am | [comment link]
27. Brian from T19 wrote:
I am surprised by Sarah’s anti-Muslim response. Not so much others as they have been vocal before, but generally Sarah tends to not aggregate all people into one group. Extremists in any religion are dangerous. To claim that extremists are the norm is wrong (unless I misunderstand).
September 13, 9:00 am | [comment link]
28. Matt Kennedy wrote:
In addition to publicly affirming that US citizens are free to film and publish material that may offend others and that we make no apology for it…I think the US needs to respond, long term, but firm way.
Part of the problem is that we are militarily overextended…I am pro-American Empire so I don’t think having our hands in all these places is a bad thing. I do think it is unsustainable economically if we are going to ramp up our entitlement spending as we have been doing since Bush 2
So we have to make a strategic choice: are we going to be an empire with a limited domestic government? Or are we going to be a socialist state with a puny military? Or neither? But we can’t do both.
The reason we farm out security to foreign mercs is becasue we cant afford to pay Marines to do what has traditionally been their task. That an Ambassador was in Bengazi with 4 US personnel and only 1 of them a “security” officer belies the point above.
So, strategically, I think we’d need to make a choice. If I were president, I would choose empire with limited domestic govt.
Tactically, I think it is a good idea to beef up security - spend the money, station Marines in embassies and consulates.
Publicly and visibly hunt down and kill all those responsible in any way for this attack. Send a sizable contingent of spec forces troops to Libya for reprisal operations agains any terrorist camps or centers. (this is precisely why God has given governors “the sword” Rom 13)
De-fund Egypt and all other politically hostile Middle eastern states.
Continue to wage unrelenting war against al qaeda
Prepare for a war to support Israel against Iran, disarming them and remove their Islamist government.
That’s my platform, write me in this year if you’re interested in hope and change.
September 13, 9:12 am | [comment link]
29. Sarah wrote:
RE: “I am surprised by Sarah’s anti-Muslim response.”
I am surprised that Brian from T19 would conflate Islamic jihad with all Muslims. Surely he does not mean to imply that all Muslims practice the Islamic jihad version of the faith?
September 13, 9:19 am | [comment link]
30. Brian from T19 wrote:
No. I misunderstood. I assumed your Religion of Peace comment was an indictment of Islam and not specific groups. Sorry for the confusion.
September 13, 9:31 am | [comment link]
31. Cennydd13 wrote:
Matt+, you are right in every respect. The Marine Corps assigns combat-trained Marines to every embassy, to be sure, but not always in sufficient strength to safely guard embassy personnel. The embassy in Libya is a good example of an undermanned Marine Embassy Detail. They’re not there just to “look pretty.” Perhaps it’s time to start assigning some Seals along with these Marines.
I would also take a good hard long look at our support of countries whose governments may claim to be our friends, yet who do not always side with us.
September 13, 11:16 am | [comment link]
32. Ross wrote:
#18 Sarah says:
Understood—but as the statement was in support of limiting speech, rather than “religious toleration” [...] the actual statement decrying people having the right to “denigrate the religious beliefs of others…”.
Nonsense. (Actually, I would prefer to use a much stronger word, one that more accurately captures my opinion of this statement; but public decorum and the Elves forbid.)
Obama nowhere suggested that he wants to “limit speech” or that he decries people having the rights to denigrate the religious beliefs of others.
Here is what he did say: “While the United States rejects efforts to denigrate the religious beliefs of others, we must all unequivocally oppose the kind of senseless violence that took the lives of these public servants… There is absolutely no justification to this type of senseless violence. None.”
You’ll have to point out to me the part where he says that people in the U.S. do not have the right to denigrate anybody’s religious beliefs. He says that the United States rejects any denigration of religious beliefs—as well it should—but that is a far, far different thing than rejecting the right of people to make such statements.
Just because the U.S. supports the rights of people to say stupid offensive nonsense, doesn’t mean the U.S. has to actually endorse any fool thing that any citizen says.
September 13, 6:17 pm | [comment link]
33. Cennydd13 wrote:
By the same token, failure to act decisively in matters like this only serves to reinforce the idea that this country of ours doesn’t have the nerve to avenge such crimes against us. It gives fuel to those whose ideology encourages such barbaric acts, and until our government acts forcefully against these people, things such as this will continue to happen. We still have a Big Stick, and we should not hesitate to use it.
September 13, 6:48 pm | [comment link]
34. Karen B. wrote:
Haven’t really had time to read the comments, I apologize if this has already been posted, but the BBC timeline of events related to the attacks on the Embassies in Libya, Egypt & Yemen has an interesting series of Tweets from the U.S. Embassy staff in Cairo whom many have denigrated for their statement against the film.
Here’s what the Embassy supposedly has tweeted:
The US embassy in Cairo has sent out this series of tweets: 1) Thank you for your thoughts and prayers. 2) Of course we condemn breaches of our compound, we’re the ones actually living through this. 3) Sorry, but neither breaches of our compound or angry messages will dissuade us from defending freedom of speech AND criticizing bigotry.
It seems as if some of the commentary suggests that any criticism of the film is automatically anti freedom of speech. I don’t see it that way, and I appreciate the perspective from those actually on the ground in Cairo.
On an unrelated note, I really appreciate Kendall’s call above encouraging people to be praying for calm throughout the Middle East and North Africa (and the whole Islamic world) tomorrow (Friday). As most readers here will know, Friday is the Muslim day of prayer with large gatherings in early afternoon at mosques. It is a time when imams can stir up people to violence and riots with firey sermons, and so tomorrow would definitely be a good day to be praying!
September 13, 6:49 pm | [comment link]
35. Mark Baddeley wrote:
I too question whether criticism of the movie is an attack on free speech - although I also question the causal link between the movie and the violence, there’s reasons to think this was simply a thin justification given to actions already planned for other reasons.
I’m also not sure that the way forward when a head of state is dealing with countries with blasphemy laws is to assert that there are no such things in one’s own country as robustly as possible (get used to us offending you, kind of thing). I think the case needs to be made as to why that is appropriate in this instance (or instances of this nature) with some indication of when it wouldn’t be appropriate (to help the rest of us see the shape of the case).
Unless one thinks that the American constitutional right to freedom of speech in its own country really is a univeral human right in all instances. And if freedom of speech is a universal human right, some of us would appreciate an explanation of how that squares with God having blasphemy laws for the nation of Israel, because we find it hard to see how freedom of speech can be a universal human right when God legislated the opposite in the one instance when he gave legislation to his holy nation.
September 13, 7:58 pm | [comment link]
36. Sarah wrote:
RE: “(Actually, I would prefer to use a much stronger word, one that more accurately captures my opinion of this statement; but public decorum and the Elves forbid.)”
Yes, it’s a pity about the Elves, as I couldn’t care less what word Ross uses about his opinion.
RE: “Obama nowhere suggested that he wants to “limit speech” or that he decries people having the rights to denigrate the religious beliefs of others.”
Well of course he did. He said, specifically, “the United States rejects efforts to denigrate the religious beliefs of others” which, of course, “the United States” does not. People are perfectly free to “denigrate the religious beliefs of others”—whether Muslim, Mormon, Scientologist, or Christian, and the US rejects no such thing at all, in fact we protect it.
For Ross to say that he said no such thing is to make a mockery of the word “rejects” and to pretend as if it’s not the very opposite of “freedom of speech.”
If Ross wants to pretend as if the word “rejects” is the same thing then that’s fine—doesn’t really matter to me.
RE: “Just because the U.S. supports the rights of people to say stupid offensive nonsense, doesn’t mean the U.S. has to actually endorse any fool thing that any citizen says.”
And of course, “endorse” is also utterly different from “rejects.” But hey, words mean whatever Ross wishes them to mean apparently.
RE: “Unless one thinks that the American constitutional right to freedom of speech in its own country really is a univeral human right in all instances.”
The American constitutional right to freedom of speech is available to all Americans, no matter how buffoonish and silly their speech, and will not be held hostage to small children with guns who kill people when they are angry.
May more—and far more sophisticated—such movies be made by Americans. American free speech will be defended, protected, and lauded. It would be great if other countries had it as well, but no matter—America does have constitutionally protected free speech and America shall continue to practice it, no matter what Islamic jihadists do. And people like me—thankfully apparently many of us judging by the outcry—will continue to be repulsed by the incredibly weak defense of same by our country’s President.
September 13, 10:28 pm | [comment link]
37. MichaelA wrote:
Matt Kennedy at #28, I agree with your program 100%.
On the issue of this attack, the ambassador was a strong advocate for active US support of the rebel movement in Libya. He may have been targeted by extremists for precisely that reason.
September 14, 1:00 am | [comment link]
38. Ross wrote:
Just in case anyone is still reading this thread… President Obama addressed the United Nations recently:
That is what we saw play out in the last two weeks, as a crude and disgusting video sparked outrage throughout the Muslim world. Now, I have made it clear that the United States government had nothing to do with this video, and I believe its message must be rejected by all who respect our common humanity.
It is an insult not only to Muslims, but to America as well—for as the city outside these walls makes clear, we are a country that has welcomed people of every race and every faith. We are home to Muslims who worship across our country. We not only respect the freedom of religion, we have laws that protect individuals from being harmed because of how they look or what they believe. We understand why people take offense to this video because millions of our citizens are among them.
I know there are some who ask why we don’t just ban such a video. And the answer is enshrined in our laws: Our Constitution protects the right to practice free speech.
Here in the United States, countless publications provoke offense. Like me, the majority of Americans are Christian, and yet we do not ban blasphemy against our most sacred beliefs. As President of our country and Commander-in-Chief of our military, I accept that people are going to call me awful things every day—(laughter)—and I will always defend their right to do so. (Applause.)
Americans have fought and died around the globe to protect the right of all people to express their views, even views that we profoundly disagree with. We do not do so because we support hateful speech, but because our founders understood that without such protections, the capacity of each individual to express their own views and practice their own faith may be threatened. We do so because in a diverse society, efforts to restrict speech can quickly become a tool to silence critics and oppress minorities.
We do so because given the power of faith in our lives, and the passion that religious differences can inflame, the strongest weapon against hateful speech is not repression; it is more speech—the voices of tolerance that rally against bigotry and blasphemy, and lift up the values of understanding and mutual respect.
Now, I know that not all countries in this body share this particular understanding of the protection of free speech. We recognize that. But in 2012, at a time when anyone with a cell phone can spread offensive views around the world with the click of a button, the notion that we can control the flow of information is obsolete. The question, then, is how do we respond?
And on this we must agree: There is no speech that justifies mindless violence. (Applause.) There are no words that excuse the killing of innocents. There’s no video that justifies an attack on an embassy. There’s no slander that provides an excuse for people to burn a restaurant in Lebanon, or destroy a school in Tunis, or cause death and destruction in Pakistan.
In this modern world with modern technologies, for us to respond in that way to hateful speech empowers any individual who engages in such speech to create chaos around the world. We empower the worst of us if that’s how we respond.
I await with eagerness the T19 explanation for how “the answer is enshrined in our laws: Our Constitution protects the right to practice free speech” means that the President is attacking free speech.
September 26, 6:52 pm | [comment link]