U.S. Ambassador to Libya John Christopher Stevens and three other Americans were killed Tuesday in an assault on the American consulate in the eastern city of Benghazi, Libya.
We're wrapping up the live blog. Here are five posts worth reading from the events in Libya today:
- Alleged witness: Attackers said ‘We are Muslims defending the Prophet’
- Libyans pay tribute to Christopher Stevens
- U.S. consulate attack was a planned terrorist assault, British think tank says
- President Obama: ‘Justice will be done’
- ‘Innocence of Muslims’ movie: What’s it about?
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) answered questions from reporters earlier today. Following are some of the questions and his answers.
Question: What do you know about what’s occurred?
“What we do know is that it was clearly an organized attack. The affiliation is not quite as clear as we would need it to be.”
Question: What should the U.S. do?
“We should work with our Libyan counterparts. You cannot let something like this stand. They need to be brought to justice swiftly. We need to send a very clear message we will not tolerate this kind of activity and taking the life of a U.S. diplomat anywhere in the world. That needs to happen quickly. If we’re having this same conversation about what we should do a month from now, we’re in a lot of trouble.”
What about the Egyptian incident and response?
“Remember – two different events. There’s still a lot of questions about the Egyptian event, but this was a military-style attack on a U.S. diplomat station. That’s serious enough, and it is a very different circumstance from what we saw in Egypt. However, a lot of people are jumping to conclusions that it was this video that spurned this activity. That’s not consistent with what we have seen in the past when it comes to information operations by extremist elements hoping to incite violence. We’ve got a lot more questions to ask, the Egyptians have some questions they’re going to have to answer about their activities on that particular day and what they plan to do in the future about keeping the grounds of our embassy safe.
Question: Any reason to believe security was too lax at these diplomatic locations in Libya and Egypt?
“It’s premature to say. In Benghazi it was a consulate, it wasn’t the embassy itself. There were transition things happening between Benghazi and Tripoli...Benghazi was the initial headquarters, if you will. There was a lot of that. It’s pretty hard, at least today, to say they did not take all the necessary precautions. We will learn more as the investigation unfolds and as all the information comes in.”
Washington Post correspondent Michael Birnbaum reports from Cairo on information he gathered from one man who said he witnessed the attack in Benghazi.
"One man who said he witnessed part of the incident, Libyan television
journalist Firas Abdelhakim, said that a group of several dozen attackers
mounted an assault on the consulate.
Abdelhakim said that he was about three miles from consulate when he saw a
group of cars – 20 to 30 of them – driving toward the consulate shortly
before 9:30 p.m.
When he got to the consulate, he saw a group of about 50 armed men
gathering. They weren’t carrying banners, nor were they chanting slogans.
When asked who they were, they said: “we are Muslims defending the
Prophet,” “we are defending the Prophet, we are defending Islam,” and “we
are a group of Muslim youth.”
Abdelhakim said he made his way through the group after he explained he was a journalist. When he got to the consulate, he saw Libyan security forces – the February 17 battalion – guarding the consulate, which is a walled-off villa compound with a swimming pool on an unpaved side street in the Fwayhat district of Benghazi.
The assault on the consulate, in which the groups traded fire, started
sometime between 10:30 and 11 p.m., he said.
Many residents in the area have small palm tree farms and green gardens, a
luxury in the dusty city. There are other shops and cafes in the district,
a luxury residential neighborhood. In the complex, there are several
buildings: one is an administrative center; others are accommodation for
employees. There is a small palm tree farm in the back of the complex, and
one security watchtower.
Benghazi residents said that the compound had never had a major security
presence around it."
Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi asked the Egyptian Embassy in Washington to take legal action against the filmmaker responsible for the incendiary movie clip that allegedly played a role in sparking the violence in Cairo and Benghazi in this week, Reuters reports.
Morsi had requested the mission to take "all legal measures", the MENA news agency reported.
Former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge doesn't agree with Romney's claim that Obama sympathizes with the protesters who attacked the embassy in Cairo, according to a video interview with Think Progress today.
Ridge, who served under former President George W. Bush, also added that he thinks Obama's foreign-policy strategy has been overly "rhetorical."
"But I do think...the series of events, the uncertainty around Syria, the fact that Iran continues to march toward nuclear weapons, the rhetorical responses to some of the other events, the failure to support democratic opposition in Iran. If all our efforts are rhetorical, it is natural for the enemies of the West to...fear no repercussions. In that part of the world, it's better to be respected rather than liked."
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov sent the following telegram to U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on Wednesday expressing his condolences over the attack in Libya.
We are shocked by the tragic death of Ambassador Christopher Stevens
and his colleagues. We ask you to convey our heartfelt sympathy to the
families and loved ones of the victims.
We strongly condemn this crime, which once again confirms the need for
joint efforts of our countries and the entire international community to
fight the scourge of terrorism in all its manifestations.
Sept. 12, 2012
Earlier, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney claimed President Obama jumped to the defense of the attackers rather than condemning the attacks.
The Post's Fact-Checker columnist, Glenn Kessler, reports on how former President Ronald Reagan reacted to the failed mission to rescue U.S. diplomats in Iran, the worst foreign-policy disaster that occurred during the term of his own political rival, former President Jimmy Carter:
"In April 1980, Reagan was still battling George H.W. Bush for the GOP nomination, while Sen. Edward M. Kennedy was challenging Carter for the Democratic nomination. This is excerpted from The Washington Post reporting on the political fallout:
Reagan told a Los Angeles press conference, "This is a difficult day for all of us Americans. . . . It is time for us . . . to stand united. It is a day for quiet reflection . . . when words should be few and confined essentially to our prayers."
Washington Post Pakistan Bureau Chief Richard Leiby reports:
Pakistan's government simultaneously condemned both the killings in Libya and what it called "the airing of the defamatory video clip in the U.S."
Pakistan has a long history of mob violence and extrajudicial killings over reported insults to the Prophet Muhammad, a crime punishable there by death.
In a statement referring to the "Innocence of Muslims" movie, Pakistan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said: "Such abominable actions ... provoke hatred, discord and enmity within societies and between peoples of various faiths. The event has deeply hurt the feelings of the people of Pakistan and the Muslims all over the world."
None of the four Americans killed in Benghazi were Marines or military members; all were State Department civilians, according to a senior U.S. military official.
There were about half a dozen Americans wounded in Benghazi, but apparently no Marines were posted as security officers at the consulate.
Police fired teargas and rubber bullets to disperse protesters in Sidi Bouzid, the city in Tunisia where the Arab Spring rebellions began last year, Reuters reports.
The demonstrators reportedly demanded "jobs, more investment in their region and the dismissal of the city's governor."
According to some reports on the ground, the demonstrations were fairly minor.