Libya

09.12.12

Attacks on American Consulate in Libya kill four, including American Ambassador

Open Thread. Will Be Updated As The Situation Develops.

Ambassador Chris Stevens and three others were killed last evening after the American Consulate in Benghazi, Libya was asssaulted by Islamic protestors.

David Frum's reaction:

These insult-to-Islam moments are very rarely if ever spontaneous reactions. They are mobilizations, and the question for Americans is: will we cooperate?

From the Wall Street Journal:

The circumstances surrounding the death of Ambassador Stevens and Mr. Smith weren't immediately clear. Two Libyan security officials in the capital Tripoli gave conflicting reports of the events that occurred several hundred miles away. One said that the ambassador's convoy had been hit by a rocket-propelled grenade. Another said that the diplomats died of smoke inhalation.

...

Ambassador Stevens, who is usually based in the capital Tripoli, was visiting Benghazi ahead of the planned opening of an American cultural center there when the violence erupted on Tuesday, according to a Libyan official.

Libyan officials, many of whom led the rebel government based in Benghazi and worked with Mr. Stevens during that time, also condemned the killing. By midday Wednesday they were scrambling to plot a response to the monumental security breech.

The newly elected Libyan congress was expected to call for a state of emergency in the country. Meanwhile, security officials were trying to find the men who carried out the consulate attack.

Ambassador Stevens had previously served as the Envoy to Libya during the revolution that overthrew dictator Muammar Gaddafi. As readers will remember, a NATO-led force prevented Gaddafi's army from following through on threats to attack Benghazi in a brutal manner.

"It's over. We are coming tonight," he said. "You will come out from inside. Prepare yourselves from tonight. We will find you in your closets."

"We are coming tonight... we will have no mercy and no pity with them."

Below is an video of Stevens introducing himself to the Libyan people.

Video screenshot

President Obama's press release is below:

I strongly condemn the outrageous attack on our diplomatic facility in Benghazi, which took the lives of four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens. Right now, the American people have the families of those we lost in our thoughts and prayers. They exemplified America's commitment to freedom, justice, and partnership with nations and people around the globe, and stand in stark contrast to those who callously took their lives.

I have directed my Administration to provide all necessary resources to support the security of our personnel in Libya, and to increase security at our diplomatic posts around the globe. 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. 

On a personal note, Chris was a courageous and exemplary representative of the United States. Throughout the Libyan revolution, he selflessly served our country and the Libyan people at our mission in Benghazi. As Ambassador in Tripoli, he has supported Libya's transition to democracy. His legacy will endure wherever human beings reach for liberty and justice. I am profoundly grateful for his service to my Administration, and deeply saddened by this loss.

The brave Americans we lost represent the extraordinary service and sacrifices that our civilians make every day around the globe. As we stand united with their families, let us now redouble our own efforts to carry their work forward.

Update (10:00 AM)

This sentence from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says it all:

"How could this happen in a country we helped liberate in a city we helped save from destruction?"

Update: (10:36 AM)

Video of Secretary Clinton's statement can be found here.

Update: (11:15 AM)

Below is video of NBC analyst Chuck Todd criticizing a press release from the Romney camp. Not the Romney campaign's finest hour.

Video screenshot

You should also visit the Huffington Post's timeline of how U.S. politicians reacted to these events. It effectively makes sense of the confusing events of the past 24 hours.

Update: (12:00 PM)

I highly recommend you visit Buzzfeed's list of ten photos from the ransacked American consulate in Benghazi.

Update: (12:20 PM)

From CNN International's Hala Gorani: