A war of words has ensued following the tragic deaths of U.S. ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans on Tuesday after heavily armed militants stormed the embassy in Benghazi, Libya.
It was the first U.S. ambassador killed in the line of duty since 1979.
“The U.S. condemns, in the strongest possible terms, these outrageous and shocking attacks,” President Obama said on Wednesday morning from the White House.
Standing alongside Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the president honored the victims of the attack and praised their heroism. He also furthered a theme Clinton addressed earlier Wednesday morning that despite the attacks, the U.S. stands by its efforts in Libya.
“The friendship between our countries born out of shared struggle will not be another casualty of this attack,” Clinton said.
Libyans helped defend the U.S. mission in Benghazi and even carried Stevens' body to the hospital, according to remarks by President Obama and Secretary Clinton.
Clinton also condemned the "senseless act of violence,” later adding: “And now because of this tragedy, we have new heroes to honor and more friends to mourn.”
The Libyan assault, along with attacks on the U.S. embassy in Cairo, were sparked by an Internet video created by an Israeli-American real estate developer that reportedly mocks Islam.
The media have delved into this video and found that something is amiss. Read more at The Atlantic
. See an excerpt from the movie here
On Tuesday night, Mitt Romney released his own statement saying he was outraged by the attacks. He also called the Obama administration’s response a disgrace.
“It’s disgraceful that the Obama administration’s first response was not to condemn attacks on our diplomatic missions, but to sympathize with those who waged the attacks,” Romney said.
The statement was released late Tuesday evening but embargoed until after Sept. 11, according to press reports. The embargo was reportedly lifted minutes after the statement was sent to reporters.
The GOP presidential candidate stood by his comments in a speech Wednesday made shortly before Obama talked.
In his strong critique of the president, Romney was referring to a statement issued directly from the U.S. embassy in Cairo before
the attacks occurred. That statement said:
“The Embassy of the United States in Cairo condemns the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims—as we condemn efforts to offend believers of all religions. Today, the 11th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States, Americans are honoring our patriots and those who serve our nation as the fitting response to the enemies of democracy.”
The Obama administration indicated the embassy’s statement was not cleared by the White House. In a tweet that was later removed
, embassy officials in Cairo said on Wednesday that they stand by that statement.
(The embassy's Twitter account has issued a number of passionate tweets
in the wake of the attacks.)
Meanwhile, the White House fired back at Romney’s attack. Spokesman Ben LaBolt said, “We are shocked that, at a time when the United States of America is confronting the tragic death of one of our diplomatic officers in Libya, Governor Romney would choose to launch a political attack.”
The president did not mention the war of words between the two campaigns when he addressed the nation today.