By Mary O’KEEFE
“[On Tuesday] our U.S. Diplomatic Post in Benghazi, Libya was attacked. Heavily armed militants assaulted the compound and set fire to our buildings,” said Secretary of State Hillary Clinton today during a televised press conference.
Four Americans were killed including Foreign Service Officer Sean Smith, a U.S. Air Force veteran, and Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens, a University of California, Berkeley graduate. The two other victims’ names have not been released pending family notification.
The attack follows protests at both U.S. Embassies in Libya and in Cairo where protesters scaled the walls of the embassy and replaced an American flag with an Islamic banner. The protests were reportedly a reaction to an inflammatory Internet film that depicted Islam’s founding prophet in a disrespectful way. The film makers are reportedly from America. President Barack Obama has sent U.S. Marines to Libya to act as added security.
On Tuesday, after the attack on the American consulate in Benghazi, Libya, Congressman Adam Schiff, a senior Member of the House Intelligence Committee, issued the following statement:
“I was deeply saddened and disturbed to learn of the attack on the American consulate in Benghazi, Libya that claimed the lives of Ambassador Christopher Stephens and three other Americans. Ambassador Stephens was a well-known figure in Libya, and was deeply involved in helping the Libyan people in their transition from the Qaddafi dictatorship,” Schiff stated.
“I have had the privilege of meeting many of our diplomats and USAID professionals overseas and I have always been struck by their dedication and their willingness to take risks in pursuit of a better world. They are America’s first line of defense and today’s loss should serve as a reminder to all Americans of the risks that our diplomats and foreign assistance officers encounter every day,” he stated.
Clinton made it clear that the country of Libya condemned the attacks and worked alongside Americans to protect the embassy. She also spoke about the supposed cause of the mob’s anger.
“Some have thought 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. American’s commitment to religious tolerance goes back to the very beginning of our nation but let me be clear there is no justification for this. None. Violence like this is no way to honor religion or faith, and as long as there are those who would take innocent life in the name of God the world will never know a true and lasting peace,” Clinton said.
“This is an attack that should shock the consciousness of people of all faith around the world. We condemn in the strongest terms this senseless act of violence and we send our prayers to the family, friends and colleagues of those we lost,” Clinton said.