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Archive for Wednesday, September 12, 2012

US investigates whether diplomat attacks were planned

September 12, 2012

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— The Obama administration, roiled by the first killing of a U.S. ambassador in more than 30 years, is investigating whether the assault on the U.S. consulate in Libya was a planned terrorist strike to mark the anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and not a spontaneous mob enraged over an anti-Islam YouTube video

President Barack Obama vowed in a Rose Garden address that the U.S. would "work with the Libyan government to bring to justice" those who killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans. Intelligence officials said the attack on the Benghazi consulate was "too coordinated or professional to be spontaneous," according to a U.S. counterterrorism official.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the incident publicly.

National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor said it would be premature to "ascribe any motive to this reprehensible act."

The attack, which came hours after a mob stormed the U.S. Embassy in Cairo and tore down the U.S. flag, was presumed to have been triggered by a movie, whose trailer has gone viral on YouTube, depicting the Islamic prophet Muhammad in disrespectful ways. In an extraordinary move, Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, called anti-Islamic preacher Terry Jones and asked him to stop promoting the film. A spokeswoman said the church would not show the film Wednesday evening.

"Make no mistake. Justice will be done," a somber Obama pledged at the White House, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton at his side.

He ordered increased security at U.S. diplomatic missions overseas, particularly in Libya, and said he condemned "in the strongest possible terms the outrageous and shocking" attack. Clinton said she was particularly appalled that the attack took place in Benghazi, which the U.S. had helped liberate from dictator Moammar Gadhafi during the Arab Spring revolution in Libya this year.

The aftermath of the two attacks also stirred the U.S. presidential campaign, where until Wednesday, foreign policy had taken a back seat to the struggling economy.

Obama spoke shortly after the Republican presidential nominee, Mitt Romney, criticized the administration for statements issued before and after the Cairo attacks that expressed sympathy for those insulted by the video.

"I also believe the administration was wrong to stand by a statement sympathizing with those who had breached our embassy in Egypt instead of condemning their actions," Romney told a morning news conference. "It's never too early for the United States government to condemn attacks on Americans and to defend our values."

Obama and Clinton made a rare joint visit to the State Department, where grieving colleagues of Stevens and the other three Americans killed in Benghazi gathered in a courtyard. The president also ordered U.S. flags to be flown at half-staff at government and military buildings and vessels around the world until sunset on Sept. 16. Flags had already been lowered in many places to commemorate the victims of the 9/11 attacks.

Clinton denounced those who might kill over an insulting movie.

"There is no justification for this," Clinton said. "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."

Underscoring the administration's frustration, Clinton wondered aloud about the attack in Benghazi, which Gadhafi had once threatened to destroy.

"This is not easy," she said. "Today, many Americans are asking, indeed I asked myself, how could this happen? How could this happen in a country we helped liberate, in a city we helped save from destruction? This question reflects just how complicated and, at times, just how confounding, the world can be."

"But we must be clear-eyed in our grief," she said, saying the attack was carried out by a "small and savage group" not representative of the Libyan people. She noted that Libyan security guards had tried to fight off the attackers, had carried Stevens' body to the hospital and led other consulate employees to safety. Several of the Libyan guards also were killed.

Stevens, a 52-year-old career diplomat, was killed when he and a group of U.S. employees went to the consulate to try to evacuate staff as the building came under attack by a mob wielding guns and rocket propelled grenades. Stevens is the first U.S. ambassador to be killed in an attack since 1979, when Ambassador Adolph Dubs was killed in Afghanistan.

Three other Americans were also killed and the State Department identified one of them as Sean Smith, an Air Force veteran who had worked as an information management officer for 10 years in posts such as Brussels, Baghdad and Pretoria. Smith was also well-known in the video game community.

The identities of the others were being withheld pending notification of relatives.

"The mission that drew Chris and Sean and their colleagues to Libya is both noble and necessary, and we and the people of Libya honor their memory by carrying it forward," Clinton said.

U.S. officials said some 50 Marines were being sent to Libya to reinforce security at U.S. diplomatic facilities.

Stevens spoke Arabic and French and had already served two tours in Libya, including running the office in Benghazi during the revolt against Gadhafi. He was confirmed as ambassador to Libya by the Senate earlier this year.


Associated Press writers Jim Kuhnhenn, Kimberly Dozier and Lolita Baldor contributed to this report.

Comments

Alyosha 2 years ago

The President proved his word is good on tracking down attackers when he ordered the operation against Bin Laden.

A wise President doesn't shoot off his mouth before knowing the facts.

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Fred Mertz 2 years ago

I agree a wise president doesn't shoot off his mouth before knowing the facts. Too bad Obama didn't follow that advice before saying the Cambridge police acted stupidly

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patkindle 2 years ago

i expect since obama was the lead guy on taking obama out, he will be leaving soon for a covert operation againest the agressors in libya . i bet michelle is packing his guns and ammo as we speak,

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Gerald Dever 2 years ago

why are the Marines on station at these facilities able to fire upon anyone trying to scale a wall, blow it up, or shoot at its inhabitants? They have to get special permission...hell, it is sovereign soil. Shoot back! I still think these jihaddist nation's security and intelligence peoples are involved. Pull all of their foreign aid, and shut the embassies down. I don't believe in using diplomacy with people too stupid or ignorant to understand it, or too weak to implement it.

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jhawkinsf 2 years ago

We house diplomats in embassies and we station troops on military bases. The distinction should always be clear. If you'd like to change things a bit, then vote for Rambo for president.

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Flap Doodle 2 years ago

Bud, US Marines have guarded American embassies under a formal agreement since 1946. They did it on an ad hoc basis long before that. Whoever decided to leave this facility open to attack should be unemployed now.

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Susan Mangan 2 years ago

My sister is a diplomat, currently stationed overseas, who served, recently, with the Ambassador who was killed. He was a good man and good diplomat. She pointed out a very common misconception, however, that the public has. US Marines are NOT stationed to guard people at embassies. Their job is to protect the classified information stored there. While it would be nice if they could also protect the individuals serving there (and while they MAY try), their mission is to protect our information, above all else. The State Department personnel working there understand that. Most Americans don't.

The safety of our personnel is left up to the hosting nation, actually. You can decide for yourself how smart that is. But, since inside the Embassy walls is sovereign United States territory, any attack is considered an act of war against us (or whatever nation is attacked). We have every right to station whatever defenses we want, WITHIN the walls of the Embassy, but, outside of those walls is soil of the host nation and they are responsible for maintaining sercurity outside of the walls. Do you want a bunch of foreign Embassy employees wandering around outside of their buildings in the U.S. with weapons drawn? It doesn't work that way.

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Flap Doodle 2 years ago

What will be your first clue, Inspector Columbo? Next Sept 11, we should have AC-130s orbiting US embassies in third-world hellholes.

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Jeremiah Jefferson 2 years ago

First, I highly doubt this attack was spur of the moment. These clowns didn't just decide to attack out of the blue.

Second, with all due respect for the Marines, but sending only 50 is not going to be near enough unless they plan on shutting it down and pulling the last of the Americans out.

I would hate to look into the faces of 50 well armed and trained Marines, but I would also hate to have to fend off several hundred, possibly thousands of well armed, poorly trained extremists with nothing to lose.

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patkindle 2 years ago

obama is the greatest president we have every had, what other president has won the nobel peace prize for doing absolutely nothing but what they think he will do ??

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Ron Holzwarth 2 years ago

It's very difficult for me to think of many Islamic persons in the Middle East as being anything other than animals who have no remorse for their actions.

The only things the M.E. nations have to offer Western nations is crude oil, and some tourism. Fortunately, it seems that Islamic persons have a more modern mindset after spending some time living in Western nations, but that does not seem to be rubbing off on their countrymen that they left behind.

And, we need to stay disengaged from the M.E. until they share what we think of as modern moral values, which may take hundreds of years. It is very difficult for me to fully realize that following this is factual modern reporting, and not tales from the jungle. Sadly, it is very easy to find verification of this event.

Clipped from: http://www.israelhayom.com/site/newsletter_opinion.php?id=2441

On Oct. 12, 2000, two reservists who were serving as drivers in the Israel Defense Forces took a wrong turn and ended up in Ramallah by accident. There they encountered a Palestinian Authority road block (no, road blocks are not an Israeli invention). Rather than being turned away by PA policemen, as other Israeli vehicles had been that had made the same error, these two young men were detained and taken to a nearby police station.

Upon learning that two Israelis were at the station, a mob of more than 1,000 Palestinians began to storm the building. What ensued was a murder the likes of which has rarely been seen, even in this terror-torn region. The two men were choked, stabbed, disemboweled, and had their eyes gouged out. Not only did the Palestinian police not intervene, but some among their ranks even participated in the frenzied mutilation.

When the men were finally dead, one of the murderers stood at an open window and held up his bloody hands for the crowds outside to see. This caused them to erupt in gleeful cheers.

Then, much to their delight, one of the bodies was flung from the window onto the street below. This was an opportunity for those who had not been able to participate in the actual lynch to stomp on the bloody corpse. The body of the second victim was then brought out, and the mob set him on fire. Finally, what was left of the two poor guys was dragged to the center of the city, where a “victory celebration” was held.

Israeli security forces spent the next several years tracking down the murderers, one of whom was indicted only this month. Another, who had been convicted in 2004 and sentenced to life imprisonment, was released as part of the Gilad Schalit prisoner exchange last year.

In the aftermath of the lynch, the PA did nothing, other than try to censor foreign media outlets that had managed to get partial footage of the atrocity. The PA-controlled media, meanwhile, portrayed the two victims as Israeli spies.


"Religion of Peace', indeed. I'll believe that when I see Santa Claus coming down my chimney.

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deec 2 years ago

It sure is convenient that this problem started after the conventions and before the election,especially since the video has been up since early July. I wonder who would have something to gain by causing a huge problem for the standing president right before the election?

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Flap Doodle 2 years ago

You win the Tin Foil Hat of the day, bub.

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Jeremiah Jefferson 2 years ago

Shock and Awe is the only way to subdue these people.

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oldbaldguy 2 years ago

the attack in Libya was planned. From what I read the Libyan security force and our security put up a fight and kept other Amercians from being killed. We need to hunt these people down and killed them. The Libyan government will not be able to do it. Patton had it right: "Islam is thoroughly rooted in the 13th century." A big question is did we prepare for any attacks at legations in the Islamic world on 9/11?

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Shane Garrett 2 years ago

Imam Khomeini and his call for revolution is alive and well. The religion of peace, has proven itself intolerant of freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and freedom of basic human rights. Therefore the religion of peace is a fraud. It is as Bob Marley said just another ism schism.

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