Transfer of Remains Ceremony to Honor Those Lost in Benghazi Attacks (full video)

Secretary Clinton:

This has been a difficult week for the State Department and for our country. We’ve seen the heavy assault on our post in Benghazi that took the lives of those brave men. We’ve seen rage and violence directed at American embassies over an awful internet video that we had nothing to do with. It is hard for the American people to make sense of that because it is senseless, and it is totally unacceptable.

The people of Egypt, Libya, Yemen, and Tunisia did not trade the tyranny of a dictator for the tyranny of a mob. Reasonable people and responsible leaders in these countries need to do everything they can to restore security and hold accountable those behind these violent acts. And we will, under the President’s leadership, keep taking steps to protect our personnel around the world.

Full remarks here.

Photo via C-Span
(click on image to view the full video)

President Obama:

I know that this awful loss, the terrible images of recent days, the pictures we’re seeing again today, have caused some to question this work.  And there is no doubt these are difficult days.  In moments such as this — so much anger and violence –even the most hopeful among us must wonder.
To you — their families and colleagues — to all Americans, know this: Their sacrifice will never be forgotten.  We will bring to justice those who took them from us.  We will stand fast against the violence on our diplomatic missions.  We will continue to do everything in our power to protect Americans serving overseas, whether that means increasing security at our diplomatic posts, working with host countries, which have an obligation to provide security, and making it clear that justice will come to those who harm Americans.

Most of all, even in our grief, we will be resolute.  For we are Americans, and we hold our head high knowing that because of these patriots — because of you — this country that we love will always shine as a light unto the world.

Full remarks here.


– DS





Consulate Benghazi Attack Victims Return Home

A most moving ceremony at the transfer of remains ceremony in a hangar at Andrews Air Force Base with President Obama, joined by Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and families, friends and colleagues of Ambassador Chris Stevens,  Sean Smith, Glen A. Doherty and Tyrone S. Woods.

This is a short clip. We hope to find the full video and post it here.

Anti-Islam Protests: Monica Bauer explains the cultural misconnection in the world as it is

Monica Bauer, a playwright and writing Fellow at Quinnipiac University asks “how well do you think Muslims will take to Mitt Romney’s get-tough act, screaming “Get off my lawn” to one-seventh of the world’s population?  She explains the cultural gap in the case of Egypt. Excerpt below:

The Egyptian people have been raising their children for literally centuries to believe that any insult to the Prophet Mohammed is an insult to Almighty God. Their culture has never been pluralistic. Their Coptic Christians have their own separate family courts for marriages, divorces, and the like, because Egypt’s Muslims don’t expect these people to live under Sharia. And the Copts don’t take very kindly to anybody who insults Jesus or the Virgin Mary, either.

The idea of freedom of speech to insult religion is just plain beyond their cultural ability to understand, for all but the most educated. I did my doctoral dissertation on the separation of church and state in the United States, and if I could not explain this concept to bright university students, I wish Mitt good luck going door to door in the Arab street.

Here’s what used to happen in my classroom:

ME: “Unlike the laws you have in Egypt that punish people for blasphemy, anyone in the United States may insult any or all religions or religious figures if they wish to do so. Their speech is protected by our First Amendment to the Constitution.”

STUDENTS: “Wait a minute. You’re joking, right?”

ME: “No, Americans can say whatever they want. They can’t burn down a church, but they can certainly say bad things about that church.”

STUDENTS: “Oh, I see! They can say bad things about religions if those religions are not true!”

ME: “No, they can say bad things about any religion. Or all religions.”

STUDENTS: “I can see why your government would not protect untrue religions, but they should protect the true religion. Government is supposed to help the people, and protecting religion helps the people. Right?”

Now, to be fair, some of my students understood the concept of freedom of speech, but they tended to be the children of diplomats who had spent some of their lives overseas, learning about other people’s cultures. But most of my Egyptian freshmen could not wrap their minds around the idea that government literally was prevented from punishing people for the crime of blasphemy by its own Constitution.

That’s the context Mitt needs to understand before he goes around condemning the good people in the American Embassy in Cairo for trying to explain why an American video blaspheming against the prophet Mohammed comes from a private citizen, and does not represent the government of the United States. Because to the majority in the Arab street, governments have the power, and the duty, to protect religion against attack. So if someone in America is attacking Islam, and the government does not stop that person, then the government of the United States must really approve of this anti-Muslim video. After all, if the government was against it, they would stop it! A good diplomat knows the culture she’s serving, and the staff at the Egyptian Embassy were doing their very best to serve their government when they released a statement that Mitt now calls “an apology.”

Continue reading, Mitt Romney Needs to Make an Apology Tour

– DS

In which politicians lament over our dead diplomats — also fund-raises over them before they are even buried

Perhaps Mitt really is a nice, rich guy who shops at Costco. That does not offend me; but this one does.  There are way too many “wonderfuls” here to make it sound authentic.  I do not/not like it.  He sounds as if he did not think through what he was going to say besides calling them, wonderful, that is.  It sounds to me as if our diplomats killed in Benghazi have become convenient props for the political campaign. Brrr…. that is cold, man.

Here is a coverage of that Virginia speech:

“I know that we’ve had heavy hearts across America today, and I want you to know things are going to get a lot better. But I also recognize that right now we’re in mourning. We’ve lost four of our diplomats across the world. We’re thinking about their families and those that they’ve left behind,” Romney said, at the beginning of a rally with roughly 2,700 supporters here in Northern Virginia.

Then, as Romney continued to lament the loss of U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, and the three others killed in Benghazi, a heckler distracted him.

“What a tragedy, to lose such a wonderful, wonderful, uh,” Romney said, as the heckler began to yell, “Why are you politicizing Libya?”

Romney continued, “wonderful people that have been so wonderful and appreciate their service to the country.”

They are …”wonderful, wonderful, uh (heckler interuptus) wonderful people that have been so wonderful …”

That’s the best he can do?

You can hear the crowd chant the heckler down with USA! USA! USA!  Then Mr. Romney said, “And so I would, I would offer a moment of silence but one gentleman doesn’t want to be silent so we’re going to keep on going,” Romney said.

If he wins in November, he would need a good thesaurus.

So then here comes a top contender for the Crassest Award of the Year.

Former senator and former GOP presidentiable Rick Santorum apparently is using the rising violence in the Middle East (and his expression of condolences on the deaths of our diplomats) as the basis for a fundraising e-mail sent out by his political advocacy organization according to The Cable:

“The news coming out of the Middle East is deeply saddening and concerning. Karen and I first want to express our condolences to the families of Ambassador Stevens and the three other American officials who were killed in the recent terrorist attacks. Their service to our country was heroic and this senseless act of violence is horrifying,” begins the e-mail signed by Santorum and sent out by Patriot Voices, the nonprofit 501(c)4 advocacy group he co-founded after he lost his primary bid.
The organization has two missions: to help Mitt Romney defeat Barack Obama and to promote conservative policies and values, according to Santorum’s statements in June when it launched.

“Please continue to stand with me as we advocate for policies that properly defend Americans and their principles abroad. President Obama’s approach of apologizing to our enemies, turning our backs on our allies, and leading from behind weakens America and empowers our enemies. If American ideals are to remain prosperous here and abroad, the appeasement policies of this president must stop,” Santorum wrote.

The Cable reports that the end of the e-mail contains the pitch with a link to the Patriot Voices donation page.

Wow, what a crass act. Announcing an expression of condolence to the dead diplomats’ families via a fund-raising email with a pitch for donation before our diplomats are even back in U.S. soil. Before we can properly bury them or mourn their passing.  What?  They couldn’t wait even until after the return of remains today?

Holy mother of goat and her crazy nephews! How shockingly opportunistic!

Meanwhile in related news, in yesterday’s Politico op-ed, Newt Gingrich, former Speaker and another former GOP presidentiable took issue with the Obama administration calling this a “senseless act of violence” (he probably did not get Rick’s email) and writes:

This concept of “senseless violence” is at the heart of the left’s refusal to confront the reality of radical Islamists.

These are not acts of senseless violence.

These are acts of war.

Our ambassador to Libya and three other Americans were not killed by a senseless mob. They were killed by a purposeful group of men armed with sophisticated weapons.

I recall, of course, Newt Gingrich telling CBS News in 2011, “The correct thing in an act of war is to kill people who are trying to kill you.” He was talking about Al-Awlaki, a U.S.-born cleric linked to al Qaeda, who was killed by a CIA drone.

Haven’t we seen this movie with war drums before, after 9/11? It started slow, then swooshed ever and we ended up in Iraq and got stuck there for years and years.

How many dots would it take before the warmongers can connect “this purposeful group of men” to say …. Iran and the bomb, bomb, bomb Iran chorus?  The pencils are out and the dots are out there …

I think we must be vigilant and not get swooshed over a second time around even when our hearts are broken.

Tyrone S. Woods and Glen A. Doherty: Former Navy SEALs KIA in Consulate Benghazi Attack

The State Department has now released the names of the other two Americans killed during the assault of the U.S. Office in Benghazi: security personnel and former Navy SEALs Tyrone S. Woods and Glen A. Doherty:

Casualties in the US Consulate Benghazi attacks: Ambassador Chris Stevens, Information Management Officer Sean Smith, security personnel and former Navy SEALs, Tyrone S. Woods and Glen A. Doherty

Secretary Clinton released the following statement:

The attack on our diplomatic post in Benghazi, Libya on Tuesday claimed the lives of four Americans. Yesterday, I spoke about two: Ambassador Chris Stevens and Information Management Officer Sean Smith. Today, we also recognize the two security personnel who died helping protect their colleagues. Tyrone S. Woods and Glen A. Doherty were both decorated military veterans who served our country with honor and distinction. Our thoughts, prayers, and deepest gratitude are with their families and friends. Our embassies could not carry on our critical work around the world without the service and sacrifice of brave people like Tyrone and Glen.

Tyrone’s friends and colleagues called him “Rone,” and they relied on his courage and skill, honed over two decades as a Navy SEAL. In uniform, he served multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. Since 2010, he protected American diplomatic personnel in dangerous posts from Central America to the Middle East. He had the hands of a healer as well as the arm of a warrior, earning distinction as a registered nurse and certified paramedic. All our hearts go out to Tyrone’s wife Dorothy and his three sons, Tyrone Jr., Hunter, and Kai, who was born just a few months ago.

We also grieve for Glen Doherty, called Bub, and his family: his father Bernard, his mother Barbara, his brother Gregory, and his sister Kathleen. Glen was also a former Navy SEAL and an experienced paramedic. And he put his life on the line many times, protecting Americans in Iraq, Afghanistan, and other hotspots. In the end, he died the way he lived – with selfless honor and unstinting valor.

We condemn the attack that took the lives of these heroes in the strongest terms, and we are taking additional steps to safeguard American embassies, consulates, and citizens around the world. This violence should shock the conscience of people of all faiths and traditions. We appreciate the statements of support that have poured in from across the region and beyond. People of conscience and goodwill everywhere must stand together in these difficult days against violence, hate, and division.

I am enormously proud of the men and women who risk their lives every day in the service of our country and our values. They help make the United States the greatest force for peace, progress, and human dignity that the world has ever known. We honor the memory of our fallen colleagues by continuing their work and carrying on the best traditions of a bold and generous nation.

Read more on Glen here.

These two former SEALs are from San Diego. Read more about Tyrone and Glen here.

Our thoughts and prayers are with your loved ones.  May you all rest in peace.

US Embassy Yemen: Protests Over Anti-Islam Movie Spread

The offending movie clip has now been viewed in YouTube 1,486,019. Viewers in Egypt and Libya are now blocked from viewing that video.  It has been ordered blocked in Afghanistan.  And the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority has reportedly scrambled to block the same video with Pakistani operators “proactively working to block the offending video “wherever it appears.”

Since the protests still appear to be spreading, one has to wonder if anyone on the streets has even seen the clip or the movie or if they are now simply being fueled by rumors.

Reuters is reporting that demonstrators attacked the U.S. embassies in Yemen and Egypt on Thursday in protest at a film they consider blasphemous to Islam.

Hundreds of Yemenis broke through the main gate of the heavily fortified compound in the capital Sanaa, shouting “We sacrifice ourselves for you, Messenger of God”. They smashed windows of security offices outside the embassy and burned cars.

Our embassies in Kuwait, Oman, Jordan, Pakistan, Sudan, Jerusalem, Moldova, Nigeria, Algeria, Zambia, Burundi, , Tunisia and Zambia have also issued warnings of possible anti-American protests.  The protests have already spread to Iraq and Bangladesh.

Here is a clip via Al Jazeera English:

From Benghazi to Baghdad, violent protests are sweeping across the Middle East. The riots are in reaction to an anti-Islamic movie made in the United States. At the embassy in Sana’a, men attacked the US embassy and tore down its gates. And in Egypt, police fired tear gas to hold back the crowds. Charles Stratford reports.

If there are reasonable people left out there who can get howling mad without breaking all the dishes and burning down the house, can we please hear from them?  My heart is sick, take care everyone.

A Diplomat’s Mom Pens Loving Tribute to the Foreign Service

Below is an excerpt from a piece written by jlsathre in open salon, who says she is “a lawyer in a past life” and the mother of a U.S. diplomat:

It was with sadness and concern that I read about the attacks and deaths of U.S. Diplomats in Libya and Egypt.

My concern is partly personal because my daughter works as a diplomat  in a U.S. Embassy in a foreign country. The attacks raised the issues of safety that are always somewhere in the back of my mind, but that bubble forth whenever I read or hear of things like the recent bomb threats at the U.S.  Embassy in Belgium,  the 2011 evacuation of family members of the embassy staff in Bahrain, the threats earlier this summer to a consulate in a Mexcian border city, or the closure of the U.S. Embassy in Yemen in 2010.
[D]anger is neither always obvious nor predictable, and the deaths yesterday have dimmed that small comfort.

As has a posting this morning noting that, in the last half century, more U.S. Ambassadors have died in the line of duty than generals.

Perhaps this shouldn’t have come as such a surprise. In most foreign countries, embassies and consulates and the foreign service officers that work in them are the face of the United States. They are the easy target. The “homeland” that sits within striking distance of anyone who wants to make a point or settle a score.

And, although the embassies and diplomats enjoy some security, their duty can’t be carried out in a vacuum, and isn’t. They are there to represent the United States, to show the face of our people, not behind armored tanks or bullet proof vests, but most often with open and outstretched arms. Unlike generals, who don’t always  find themselves on front lines, the diplomats are our feet on the ground in nearly every country around the world.

In a time when the U.S. does not enjoy world-wide respect and is not universally thought of as a protector or a peace maker or an ally, it is not always a comfortable or safe place to be. Even on days like yesterday when no imminent danger was known.

And so, to my daughter and to every other diplomat and worker in a U.S Embassy or Consulate, I say to you with the same outstretched arms that you hold out to the world every day, “Thank you and stay safe.”

Continue reading, From a Diplomat’s Mother. Don’t skip the comments.