Remembering Chris Stevens: Share Your Photo or Story

The family of Ambassador Chris Stevens has set up a Tumblr to capture the memories of people he touched, far and near. The online remembrance says that Chris had a passion for building bridges between the people of the United States and the Middle East. And that in this spirit, a fund has been established in his name to support this important, yet unfinished, endeavor. The family envisions the Fund to support activities that promote religious tolerance, cultural understanding, educational youth exchanges, and other people-to-people programs.

The Stevens family has partnered with the New Venture Fund to house the J. Christopher Stevens Fund. The New Venture Fund is a 501(c)(3) public charity that supports public interest projects in areas including global health and development, human rights, conservation, education, and disaster relief. For more information, see http://www.newventurefund.org

All contributions by US donors are tax deductible. Donors residing outside of the United States should refer to the tax laws of their country of residence to determine the tax deductibility of their donation.

For information about the fund, please contact rememberingchrisstevens@gmail.com. For technical support, please contact support@networkforgood.org.

Photo from The Stevens Family (Used with Permission)

The Tumblr is about three days old and growing. There are photos of Ambassador Stevens with the Piedmont High School A Capella Choir at the Fourth of July Celebration in Piedmont Park in 1978; of him appearing as Robert Livingston in the 1980 community theatre production of 1776 in Piedmont, California; with The Rat Pack at the US Embassy Damascus Marine Ball in 2001.  There is even a photo of Stevens of Arabia (in full gear) from Halloween 2001.

What a bore it is, waking up in the morning always the same person. I wish I were unflinching and emphatic and had big eyebrows and a message for the Age.
— Chris Stevens, Piedmont High School Yearbook, 1978 (originally adopted from The Living Age, Volume 294)

I’ve read through the touching and tender stories shared by people who knew him in Piedmont High, UC Berkeley, Peace Corps, and the Foreign Service family.  And it’s hard not to be heartsick.  There are also some notes from Libyans in Tripoli and Benghazi.  Fair warning – you will need a big box of tissues.  Below are some excerpts.

 

A few days ago I had a silly idea: Go back in time and warn Chris about the Libyan terrorists. It’s not an original idea — actually, it was the plot of Back To The Future. But more to the point, it’s impossible, I don’t have a time machine. The only way back is to remember.
— David Wingate

 

Time passed, and Chris headed off to the State Department.  The last business card I have from him stated his billet as “Iran Desk Officer.”  I asked him what he did.  He said he could tell me, but then he’d have to kill me.
John Lamborn

 

I see you picked up a few things in the Middle East like the fine art of negotiating. I was looking forward to hounding you about this chair and how you proposed to get it to Thailand from Libya! Now I have no chair, am down one running partner, and have trouble sleeping. So tell me dear friend, why did you have to become a celebrated fallen hero when I would have preferred that you try to sell me another chair?
– M

 

He loved that part of the world and the people he met, and despite every reason not to, remained optimistic that the world could be made a better place. He was doing hugely important work, winning over hearts and minds, and I can’t imagine anyone being a better representative for our country overseas.
— Austin Tichenor

 

During an earlier tour in Tripoli, when Moammar Gaddafi was still in power, Chris once grabbed the camera off a Libyan intelligence goon on his tail, turned and, with a big smile, took the guy’s picture. Then he gave the camera back. The lanky Californian could be both charming and disarming, even as he made his point.
Robin Wright
Author of “Rock the Casbah: Rage and Rebellion Across the Islamic World.”

 

They told me you died but I refuse to mourn you.  I refuse to send condolences, and I will continue to refuse doing that.   So, I decided to send you an email instead like the old days.  I wanted to prove them wrong. They don’t know that someone like you never dies.  I refuse to yield to the will of evil, despair and darkness because you taught me not to. Chris—we shall meet up and you shall have “a social cigarette” (remember) and we shall both laugh just like the old days … they just think you died…
— Ibrahim, U.S. Consulate General Jerusalem

 

Your life was cut short on September eleven
We all know that you are gone to heaven
* * *
With sadness we grieve, and we shed tears
We will achieve your vision if it takes 100 years
—Mahmud Abudaber, Libyan American

 

I know in Tripoli where i live, the people love him, and miss him, they miss the times he strolled down the streets of the city, we all felt for once we have a diplomat who was one of us, a normal person, he ate where we ate he went to normal small local cafés. and people here loved that.
[…]
It’s not something sorry can fix but we truly are so sorry, i’m sorry we could not do more to keep Chris safe.
— Hassan Morajea, 18, British Libyan, Benghazi, Libya

 

We in Libya will miss Chris dearly and we are more than appreciative of his hard work and committed to bringing the evil group that took his life away to justice.

Thank you and we will miss you brother.
— Sami, Tripoli, Libya

 

I’ll end with an excerpt from a beautiful piece written by Allen Manzano, not because I knew Ambassador Stevens but because, it seems to me, he, too would wish “for laughing days to come again” … maybe not today or tomorrow when we have not yet burn our grief out … but one day soon …

Isn’t it true that when we heard the news we said to ourselves our laughing days are over?

Isn’t it true that knowing who he was with all his wisdom and caring heart, his skills, his willing servitude to make that longed for better world, we asked our selves can this be that this rare good man is gone?
[…]
Isn’t it true that our consolation is to have known this man, too soon taken, and to know that it would have surely been his ardent wish for those he loved that, yes, oh yes, in our work for good, our laughing days should come again?

 

If you have a story or a photograph to share of Ambassador Stevens, please visit http://www.rememberingchrisstevens.com/

 

 

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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.
Via CNN

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

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.

Outrage! Ambassador Chris Stevens and three others killed in Benghazi, Libya

I posted about the mob attack at the US Office/Consulate in Benghazi around midnight last night (see US Embassy Libya: Protesters storm the US Office in Benghazi, kill one American officer, wound others).  I understand then from my State Department source that Ambassador Stevens and two other senior embassy officials were in Benghazi for the opening of the American Center there but that they were in a safe haven during the attack.  I went to bed hoping the insanity had flamed out during the night only to wake up with the news that Ambassador Stevens and three other staff had been killed.  Ambassador Stevens is the first U.S. ambassador to be killed in the line of duty since 1979 1995.

Correction: US Ambassador to Afghanistan Spike Dubs was killed in 1979 in an exchange of fire after a kidnapping attempt. But in 1988, we also lost Ambassador Arnie Raphel who was killed in along with Pakistani President Zia ul-Haq and Brigadier General Herbert M. Wassom when their plane mysteriously crashed shortly after takeoff from Bahawalpur.  Then in 1995, the first US Ambassador to Estonia Robert Frasure was killed in an automobile accident on the Igman mountain near Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina while on a mission to negotiate a U.S. proposal to end the conflict in Bosnia. WaPo has a list of ambassadors killed in the line of duty here, but the list does not include Ambassador Frasure. (Thanks Jeff Z!)

Photo via Senator McCain’s tweet – http://lockerz.com/s/223075753

I don’t know if there is anyone out there who is not outrage by these attacks. Ambassador Stevens was our man in Benghazi during the Libyan revolution. He helped save that city and he was happy to be back in Libya. Then they killed him.

The AP is reporting that the Libyan doctor who treated Ambassador  Stevens at the Benghazi Medical Center says that he tried for 90 minutes to revive him but that our top diplomat in Libya died of severe asphyxiation.

Ziad Abu Zeid told The Associated Press on Wednesday that Stevens was brought to the Benghazi Medical Center by Libyans the night before, with no other Americans and that initially no one realized he was the ambassador.

Abu Zeid said Stevens had “severe asphyxia,” apparently from smoke inhalation, causing stomach bleeding, but had no other injuries.

There are hard to look photos here reportedly of Ambassador Stevens body being “dragged” from the “embassy.”  But the smoke on this attack has yet to clear. Elsewhere it is reported that he was in a car hit by a rocket-propelled grenade.  I cannot tell from just looking at these photos if he was indeed dragged from the diplomatic compound by militants or, if true that he was attack in a car, if this is him dragged out of a car.

Libyan officials condemned the attack on a US consulate in Libya yesterday, with interim President Mohamed el Megarif calling the attack “cowardly” and apologizing to the US, vowing to apprehend the killers.

“We extend our apology to America, the American people and the whole world.”

But CSM reports that Libya’s deputy interior minister, Wanis al-Sharif, said in a press conference aired on Al Jazeera that the killings were carried out not by an Islamist group but by members of the former regime of Muammar Qaddafi. And he implied that the US consulate was at fault for not taking adequate security measures.

“They are to blame simply for not withdrawing their personnel from the premises, despite the fact that there was a similar incident when [Al-Qaeda second-in-command and Libyan citizen] Abu Yahya al-Libi was killed. It was necessary that they take precautions. It was their fault that they did not take the necessary precautions,” said Mr. Sharif, according to Al Jazeera.

A shocking and an outrageous response no less.  What is clear here is that the Libyan Government utterly failed in its duty to protect our diplomats in that country.  I would not be surprise if other countries would now scale down, even  withdraw their diplomatic staff from Libya. If they cannot protect US diplomats, how can anyone expect them to protect other diplomats? Our government protects Libyan diplomats in the United States, how is it that some Libyan official washes his hand from his country’s responsibility?

While I sure would like to see Libya apprehend the culprit/s and take them to court, how do you find the killers out of a mob? How can we even tell that whoever is trotted out in front of cameras is the trigger happy nut?

And while the USG is clear in making its distinction that “this was an attack by a small and savage group – not the people or Government of Libya” one cannot ignore the fact that this attack was perpetuated in Libyan soil. Secretary Clinton’s statement makes it sound as if this act was not done by Libyans.  Are we now going to drag the Al Qaeda carcass out as perpetrators?

I hope that an Accountability Review Board is convened as soon as possible with its report released to the public at its conclusion.

Here is President Obama via PBS NewsHour

Click here to read Secretary Clinton’s statement.  President Obama also has a statement here.

The only other American casualty identified so far is Sean Smith, an Air Force veteran who spent the last 10 years as an information management officer in the State Department.  He left behind a wife and two young children.  He also is known as Vile Rat in a gaming community. Below is an excerpt from The Mittani:

So: Vile Rat, Sean Smith, my friend for over six years, both in real life and in internet spaceships, was the “State Department Official” killed in Benghazi by a mob of religious lunatics, who had been incited to violence on this September 11th by a movie that was apparently made sometime in July. Obviously, given the combined attacks in Egypt and in Libya, this was a coordinated act designed for maximum media exposure; rile up a mob, point them at an embassy or consulate on 9/11 in particular, aim for the press. Many were injured in these pointless, reprehensible acts, and one of my closest friends was killed as a result.

(12:54:09 PM) vile_rat: assuming we don’t die tonight. We saw one of our ‘police’ that guard the compound taking pictures

We knew that Vile Rat was in Benghazi; he told us. He commented on how they use guns to celebrate weddings and how there was a constant susurrus of weaponry in the background. He was in situ to provide IT services for the consulate, which meant he was on the net all the time, hanging out with us on Jabber as usual and talking about internet spaceship games.
[…]
He was on jabber when it happened, that’s the most fucked up thing. In Baghdad the same kind of thing happened – incoming sirens, he’d vanish, we’d freak out and he’d come back ok after a bit. This time he said ‘FUCK’ and ‘GUNFIRE’ and then disconnected and never returned.

There are more tributes online here.

The Guardian has a live blog of the attack with extensive links to sources elsewhere.