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Posts Tagged ‘Christopher Stevens’

Myth:  Hillary Clinton said the attack on the Benghazi installation was an outgrowth of a demonstration against an anti-Islamist video on the internet.

Not exactly.  Here are her words on September 12, 2012.

We are working to determine the precise motivations and methods of those who carried out this assault. Some have sought to justify this vicious behavior, along with the protest that took place at our Embassy in Cairo yesterday, as a response to inflammatory material posted on the internet.

There were demonstrations against such a video at many U.S. embassies world-wide and in the region,  however.

Sep 11, 2012

Cairo protesters scale U.S. Embassy wall, remove flag

Egyptian demonstrators climbed the walls of the U.S. Embassy in Cairo today and pulled down the American flag to protest a film they say is insulting to the prophet Mohammad.

This Wikipedia entry gives a pretty complete treatment.  All of these embassies were under the oversight of the State Department.  The American School in Tunisia was destroyed.  Secretary Clinton, just back from a tour that ended in Vladivostok,  did have her hands full, but she did not blame this attack on the video.

Myth: She blamed the attack on the video at the Transfer of Remains Ceremony at Andrews AFB on the 14th.  Nope again.  She referred to the demonstrations above, but she did not say they caused the attack. Speaking of Ambassador Chris Stevens she said this.

The President of the Palestinian Authority, who worked closely with Chris when he served in Jerusalem, sent me a letter remembering his energy and integrity, and deploring – and I quote – “an act of ugly terror.” Many others from across the Middle East and North Africa have offered similar sentiments.

This has been a difficult week for the State Department and for our country. We’ve seen the heavy assault on our post in Benghazi that took the lives of those brave men. We’ve seen rage and violence directed at American embassies over an awful internet video that we had nothing to do with.

Spin: “What difference does it make?”  First of all, those are not her exact words.  Second,  the exasperated remark came in the course of an exchange during Hillary Clinton’s testimony at the House Foreign Affairs Committee on January 23.  The focus of that exchange was whether Secretary Clinton had spoken to any individual on the ground in Benghazi on the night of September 11.  Thanks to Tom Kertscher at PolitiFact we have the transcript (there is more at this link.)

Clinton: Senator, you know, when you’re in these positions, the last thing you want to do is interfere with any other process going on, number one—

Johnson: I realize that’s a good excuse.

Clinton: Well, no, it’s the fact. Number two, I would recommend highly you read both what the ARB said about it and the classified ARB because, even today, there are questions being raised. Now, we have no doubt they were terrorists, they were militants, they attacked us, they killed our people. But what was going on and why they were doing what they were doing is still unknown —

Johnson: No, again, we were misled that there were supposedly protests and that something sprang out of that — an assault sprang out of that — and that was easily ascertained that that was not the fact, and the American people could have known that within days and they didn’t know that.

Clinton: With all due respect, the fact is we had four dead Americans. Was it because of a protest or was it because of guys out for a walk one night who decided that they’d they go kill some Americans? What difference at this point does it make? It is our job to figure out what happened and do everything we can to prevent it from ever happening again, Senator. Now, honestly, I will do my best to answer your questions about this, but the fact is that people were trying in real time to get to the best information. The IC has a process, I understand, going with the other committees to explain how these talking points came out. But you know, to be clear, it is, from my perspective, less important today looking backwards as to why these militants decided they did it than to find them and bring them to justice, and then maybe we’ll figure out what was going on in the meantime.

Johnson: OK. Thank you, Madame Secretary.

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Spin: Nordstrom, understandably distressed,  keeps returning like the Ancient Mariner saying Hillary Clinton refused additional security requested in March 2012.   The body that properly should be called upon to address the reason for the reduction of available security resources is the House Appropriations Committee that cut the diplomatic security budget by hundreds of millions of dollars  two years in a row. (Oh!  Hi there Jason Chaffetz of the teary eyes and choked up throat!)

Spin: Gregory Hicks, demoted for speaking out. Leaving aside for the moment that you chose to speak to a Congress person without a lawyer present as that terrible witch Cheryl Mills pointed out to be State Department protocol, let’s look at what you did do.  Left in charge of Embassy Tripoli on September 11 with four special forces in place, contacted by Ambassador Stevens (who had the other six special forces assigned to Embassy Tripoli with him in Benghazi), and told the installation was under attack, you thought it would be a great idea to send the last four special forces in Tripoli 400 miles away.

This,  while embassies across the region and beyond were subject to rather aggressive demonstrations. Let’s also leave aside the logistics of getting those forces to Benghazi in time to do anything to help.  There were two things that were unknown.  First,  was the Benghazi attack a distractor and precursor to a bigger attack on Embassy Tripoli (of which you were in charge)?  Second, is there another attack coming in Benghazi?  The second happened to be the case.  But Hicks decided it made the best sense to send the last remaining forces out of Tripoli.

“I’m in charge” echoes from the grave of Alexander Haig aside, I have never seen a less responsible decision.  Hicks was second in command and in charge of Embassy Tripoli that night.  He was responsible for all embassy personnel and all classified material and electronics inside the embassy.  This was his decision – to strip away all special forces on the ground there -yes, in the fog of an attack hundreds of miles away.  We appreciate your service, but, questioning your judgment,  understand why you were assigned a “desk job.”

Is this who should be chief of any mission?  Or second in command?  If you have ever been in charge of anything,  you know the answer to this question.  If you are a mom, you know the answer.

Happy Mother’s Day to our cherished and wise Madame Secretary!  Great mom and great SOS!

01-31-13-Y-01

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Remarks at the Transfer of Remains Ceremony to Honor Those Lost in Attacks in Benghazi, Libya

Remarks

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Andrews Air Force Base
Joint Base Andrews, MD
September 14, 2012

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you very much, Chaplain. Mr. President, Mr. Vice President, Secretary Panetta, Ambassador Rice, Secretary Powell and Mrs. Powell, family members of the four patriots and heroes we bring home, members of the State Department family, ladies and gentlemen, today we bring home four Americans who gave their lives for our country and our values. To the families of our fallen colleagues, I offer our most heartfelt condolences and deepest gratitude.

Sean Smith joined the State Department after six years in the Air Force. He was respected as an expert on technology by colleagues in Pretoria, Baghdad, Montreal, and The Hague. He enrolled in correspondence courses at Penn State and had high hopes for the future. Sean leaves behind a loving wife Heather, two young children, Samantha and Nathan, and scores of grieving family, friends, and colleagues. And that’s just in this world. Because online in the virtual worlds that Sean helped create, he is also being mourned by countless competitors, collaborators, and gamers who shared his passion.

Tyrone Woods, known to most as Rone, spent two decades as a Navy SEAL, serving multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. Since 2010, he protected American diplomatic personnel in dangerous posts from Central America to the Middle East. He had the hands of a healer as well as the arms of a warrior, earning distinction as a registered nurse and certified paramedic. Our hearts go out to Tyrone’s wife Dorothy, and his three sons Tyrone, Jr., Hunter, and Kai, born just a few months ago, along with his grieving family, friends, and colleagues.

Glen Doherty, who went by Bub, was also a former SEAL and an experienced paramedic. He too died as he lived, serving his country and protecting his colleagues. Glen deployed to some of the most dangerous places on Earth, including Iraq and Afghanistan, always putting his life on the line to safeguard other Americans. Our thoughts and prayers are with Glen’s father Bernard, his mother Barbara, his brother Gregory, his sister Kathleen, and their grieving families, friends, and colleagues.

I was honored to know Ambassador Chris Stevens. I want to thank his parents and siblings, who are here today, for sharing Chris with us and with our country. What a wonderful gift you gave us. Over his distinguished career in the Foreign Service, Chris won friends for the United States in far-flung places. He made those people’s hopes his own. During the revolution in Libya, he risked his life to help protect the Libyan people from a tyrant, and he gave his life helping them build a better country.

People loved to work with Chris. And as he rose through the ranks, they loved to work for Chris. He was known not only for his courage but for his smile – goofy but contagious – for his sense of fun and that California cool.

In the days since the attack, so many Libyans – including the Ambassador from Libya to the United States, who is with us today – have expressed their sorrow and solidarity. One young woman, her head covered and her eyes haunted with sadness, held up a handwritten sign that said “Thugs and killers don’t represent Benghazi nor Islam.” The President of the Palestinian Authority, who worked closely with Chris when he served in Jerusalem, sent me a letter remembering his energy and integrity, and deploring – and I quote – “an act of ugly terror.” Many others from across the Middle East and North Africa have offered similar sentiments.

This has been a difficult week for the State Department and for our country. We’ve seen the heavy assault on our post in Benghazi that took the lives of those brave men. We’ve seen rage and violence directed at American embassies over an awful internet video that we had nothing to do with. It is hard for the American people to make sense of that because it is senseless, and it is totally unacceptable.

The people of Egypt, Libya, Yemen, and Tunisia did not trade the tyranny of a dictator for the tyranny of a mob. Reasonable people and responsible leaders in these countries need to do everything they can to restore security and hold accountable those behind these violent acts. And we will, under the President’s leadership, keep taking steps to protect our personnel around the world.

There will be more difficult days ahead, but it is important that we don’t lose sight of the fundamental fact that America must keep leading the world. We owe it to those four men to continue the long, hard work of diplomacy. I am enormously proud of the men and women of the State Department. I’m proud of all those across our government, civilian and military alike, who represent America abroad. They help make the United States the greatest force for peace, progress, and human dignity the world has ever known. If the last few days teach us anything, let it be this: That this work and the men and women who risk their lives to do it are at the heart of what makes America great and good.

So we will wipe away our tears, stiffen our spines, and face the future undaunted. And we will do it together, protecting and helping one another, just like Sean, Tyrone, Glen, and Chris always did. May God bless them and grant their families peace and solace, and may God continue to bless the United States of America.

And now, let me have the great honor of introducing someone who came to the State Department earlier this week to grieve with us. He well understands and values the work that these men were doing for our country. The President of the United States.

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Today was probably the most difficult day of Hillary Clinton’s tenure as Secretary of State.  She always takes it hard when diplomatic and developmental personnel are hurt or killed in service, but the events in Benghazi yesterday were particularly savage, as she described them in her remarks this morning, and it was clear that she took the murder of Ambassador Christopher Stevens very hard.  Following her statement this morning at the State Department, she went to the White House where President Obama delivered this message.

Remarks by the President on the Deaths of U.S. Embassy Staff in Libya

Rose Garden

10:43 A.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Good morning.  Every day, all across the world, American diplomats and civilians work tirelessly to advance the interests and values of our nation.  Often, they are away from their families.  Sometimes, they brave great danger.

Yesterday, four of these extraordinary Americans were killed in an attack on our diplomatic post in Benghazi.  Among those killed was our Ambassador, Chris Stevens, as well as Foreign Service Officer Sean Smith.  We are still notifying the families of the others who were killed.  And today, the American people stand united in holding the families of the four Americans in our thoughts and in our prayers.

The United States condemns in the strongest terms this outrageous and shocking attack.  We’re working with the government of Libya to secure our diplomats.  I’ve also directed my administration to increase our security at diplomatic posts around the world.  And make no mistake, we will work with the Libyan government to bring to justice the killers who attacked our people.

Since our founding, the United States has been a nation that respects all faiths.  We reject all efforts to denigrate the religious beliefs of others.  But there is absolutely no justification to this type of senseless violence.  None.  The world must stand together to unequivocally reject these brutal acts.

Already, many Libyans have joined us in doing so, and this attack will not break the bonds between the United States and Libya.  Libyan security personnel fought back against the attackers alongside Americans.  Libyans helped some of our diplomats find safety, and they carried Ambassador Stevens’s body to the hospital, where we tragically learned that he had died.

It’s especially tragic that Chris Stevens died in Benghazi because it is a city that he helped to save.  At the height of the Libyan revolution, Chris led our diplomatic post in Benghazi.  With characteristic skill, courage, and resolve, he built partnerships with Libyan revolutionaries, and helped them as they planned to build a new Libya.  When the Qaddafi regime came to an end, Chris was there to serve as our ambassador to the new Libya, and he worked tirelessly to support this young democracy, and I think both Secretary Clinton and I relied deeply on his knowledge of the situation on the ground there.  He was a role model to all who worked with him and to the young diplomats who aspire to walk in his footsteps.

Along with his colleagues, Chris died in a country that is still striving to emerge from the recent experience of war. Today, the loss of these four Americans is fresh, but our memories of them linger on.  I have no doubt that their legacy will live on through the work that they did far from our shores and in the hearts of those who love them back home.

Of course, yesterday was already a painful day for our nation as we marked the solemn memory of the 9/11 attacks.  We mourned with the families who were lost on that day.  I visited the graves of troops who made the ultimate sacrifice in Iraq and Afghanistan at the hallowed grounds of Arlington Cemetery, and had the opportunity to say thank you and visit some of our wounded warriors at Walter Reed.  And then last night, we learned the news of this attack in Benghazi. 

As Americans, let us never, ever forget that our freedom is only sustained because there are people who are willing to fight for it, to stand up for it, and in some cases, lay down their lives for it.  Our country is only as strong as the character of our people and the service of those both civilian and military who represent us around the globe.

No acts of terror will ever shake the resolve of this great nation, alter that character, or eclipse the light of the values that we stand for.  Today we mourn four more Americans who represent the very best of the United States of America.  We will not waver in our commitment to see that justice is done for this terrible act.  And make no mistake, justice will be done.

But we also know that the lives these Americans led stand in stark contrast to those of their attackers.  These four Americans stood up for freedom and human dignity.  They should give every American great pride in the country that they served, and the hope that our flag represents to people around the globe who also yearn to live in freedom and with dignity.

We grieve with their families, but let us carry on their memory, and let us continue their work of seeking a stronger America and a better world for all of our children.

Thank you.  May God bless the memory of those we lost and may God bless the United States of America.

END 

After these remarks, the President accompanied the Secretary to the State Department where he signed a guest book and offered condolences  to grieving State Department staff.  Here are some photos from the State Department and the White House.

At the State Department making remarks this morning.

In the Rose Garden.

Signing the guest book at the State Department.

Offering condolences to State Department staff.

Everyone here knows that I am no fan of Obama’s, but today he did the right thing for his Secretary of  State,  her staff, and the country in much the same way as George W. Bush did when he went to Ground Zero after 9/11.

I have seen and fought about as much Islamophobia as I can stomach today.  Dear friends and colleagues of mine are Muslim.  One proudly just took her oath of citizenship recently and is so proud to be American.  Those who claim that their freedom of speech is being trampled should remember that Muslim American troops are defending that freedom and that Muslim Americans serve patriotically in embassies all over the world – some, clearly, in very dangerous places.  We are a secular nation where all religions are to be respected. These photos from Benghazi are worth a thousand words.

15 Photos Of Libyans Apologizing To Americans

A peaceful demonstration from Benghazi, the Libyan city where a U.S. ambassador was killed in a consulate attack Tuesday. “Chris Stevens was a friend to all Libyans.”

Finally, using the events in Benghazi and Cairo politically is shameful.  Political opponents need not disagree about everything.  I just heard former Ambassador Nicholas Burns say that this is a time for a political time-out.  This is a time for us to come together and be respectful of those we have lost.   It is not a time to criticize much less to attack and lie.  We all need to take a breath, reflect and offer our condolences to those who have lost loved ones as Secretary Clinton and President Obama did today.

To those who have suffered losses, I am so sorry.  My sympathy is with you.

To those who continue, on Secretary Clinton’s hardest day at State, to spread lies and attack our government,  have you no decency?

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Remembering to thank our troops is a good thing.  It would be even better if we would remember, as our Secretary of State never fails to do in any country she visits, to thank as well our foreign service officials who serve unarmed every bit as patriotically as our military.

Statement on the Death of American Personnel in Benghazi, Libya

Press Statement

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Washington, DC
September 12, 2012

It is with profound sadness that I share the news of the death of four American personnel in Benghazi, Libya yesterday. Among them were United States Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens and Foreign Service Information Management Officer, Sean Smith. We are still making next of kin notifications for the other two individuals. Our hearts go out to all their families and colleagues.

A 21 year veteran of the Foreign Service, Ambassador Stevens died last night from injuries he sustained in the attack on our office in Benghazi.

I had the privilege of swearing in Chris for his post in Libya only a few months ago. He spoke eloquently about his passion for service, for diplomacy and for the Libyan people. This assignment was only the latest in his more than two decades of dedication to advancing closer ties with the people of the Middle East and North Africa which began as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Morocco. As the conflict in Libya unfolded, Chris was one of the first Americans on the ground in Benghazi. He risked his own life to lend the Libyan people a helping hand to build the foundation for a new, free nation. He spent every day since helping to finish the work that he started. Chris was committed to advancing America’s values and interests, even when that meant putting himself in danger.

Sean Smith was a husband and a father of two, who joined the Department ten years ago. Like Chris, Sean was one of our best. Prior to arriving in Benghazi, he served in Baghdad, Pretoria, Montreal, and most recently The Hague.

All the Americans we lost in yesterday’s attacks made the ultimate sacrifice. We condemn this vicious and violent attack that took their lives, which they had committed to helping the Libyan people reach for a better future.

America’s diplomats and development experts stand on the front lines every day for our country. We are honored by the service of each and every one of them.

 

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