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U.S. Mourns Loss Of Ambassador In Benghazi Attack

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U.S. Mourns Loss Of Ambassador In Benghazi Attack

President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton comment on the murder of U.S. Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens.

Photo by Lawrence Jackson/White House
Updated September 14, 2012

President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton reaffirmed America's resolve in the face of terror September 12, 2012, as they led a stunned United States in mourning the loss of American Ambassador to Libya, Chris Stevens. Stevens and three other U.S. foreign service specialists died September 11 when a mob attacked and burned the American consulate in Benghazi, Libya.

The mob was allegedly angry over a YouTube video, reportedly produced in the U.S., that defamed the Muslim prophet Muhammad. A similar mob had attacked the U.S. embassy in Cairo, Egypt, earlier in the day, ripping down the American flag.

At this writing, reports were surfacing that Stevens' killers may have links to an Al Qaeda cell still active in eastern Libya. September 11, 2012, was the eleventh anniversary of Al Qaeda's attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

Ambassador Stevens

Chris Stevens, 52, had accepted the post of Libyan ambassador in May 2012 as Libya was emerging from the 2011 rebellion that ousted dictator Muammar Qaddafi from his 40 years in power. The United States and NATO had provided air cover and other military help for the opposition. That intervention came after Qaddafi vowed to destroy Benghazi, which had become the rebels' stronghold.

Stevens had a life-long love of Libya and its culture, and he was dedicated to seeing it transition from war to peace. Stevens became America's point-man with opposition leaders during the rebellion, then worked with Libya's transition government.

President Obama said, "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."

Clinton said that, "Chris Stevens fell in love with the Middle East as a young Peace Corps volunteer teaching English in Morocco. He joined the Foreign Service, learned languages, won friends for America in distant places, and made other people's hopes his own."

She continued, "In the early days of the Libyan revolution, I asked Chris to be our envoy to the rebel opposition. He arrived on a cargo ship in the port of Benghazi and began building our relationships with Libya's revolutionaries. He risked his life to stop a tyrant, then gave his life trying to help build a better Libya."

American Resolve

Both Obama and Clinton delineated between the majority of Libyans who want friendship with the United States and what Clinton called the "small and savage group" that killed the diplomats. She said the U.S. was committed to peace with Libya, but that it would not "rest until those responsible for these attacks are found and brought to justice."

A day after attending 9/11 remembrance ceremonies, Obama said, "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."

Stevens is the first U.S. ambassador to die in the line of duty since 1979.

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