Mixed messages blur clarity in recent embassy attacks
General Manager/Editor Ron Schott
In the past two weeks, U.S. embassies in more than 30 countries have been under attack by protesters. There is now an insecurity in the region of these embassies throughout the Middle East, the UK, Australia, and even China. The U.S. Ambassador to Libya and three other Americans were killed in the Libyan attack and one protester even died reportedly of smoke inhalation from several American flags being burned in Pakistan.
While these incidents continue to cause more concern as each day goes by, I’m personally troubled by the way our government officials have handled this crisis.
It all started the morning after the first attacks in Libya and Egypt on September 11, 2012,
The statement from the U.S. Embassy in Cairo pointed to an anti-Islam video on YouTube as the reason for the protests and all but apologizes for the video. The statement was issued as follows: “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. Respect for religious beliefs is a cornerstone of American democracy. We firmly reject the actions by those who abuse the universal right of free speech to hurt the religious beliefs of others.”
The statement condemned the video makers more than those who attacked the embassy.
The next morning, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton referred to the video in her statement and said “the United States deplores any intentional effort to denigrate the religious beliefs of others.”
President Barack Obama also hinted towards the video in his statement.
“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.”
Meanwhile, I’m reading all of the coverage and was shocked that government officials weren’t taking notice that the first two attacks happened on the notable date of September 11, 2012. It was as if they didn’t consider the attacks to be pre-planned and never weighed the possibility. I’m not a rocket scientist but I kept coming back to my own preplanned conclusion.
Officials said the investigation was ongoing but appeared to draw a conclusion with the video.
On ABC’s “This week with George Stephanopoulos” on Sunday, September 14, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice said:
“Our current best assessment, based on the information that we have at present, is that, in fact, what this began as, it was a spontaneous – not a premeditated – response to what had transpired in Cairo.”
Then on September 16, Libya’s president told a different story when he said he believed al-Qaida was behind the Libyan attack that killed U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens.
“The idea that this criminal and cowardly act was a spontaneous protest that just spun out of control is completely unfounded and preposterous,” said Libyan President Mohammed el-Megarif. “We firmly believe that this was a precalculated, preplanned attack that was carried out specifically to attack the U.S. Consulate.”
Nine days after the attacks, finally the White House started to acknowledge the facts of the case. White House Press Secretary Jay Carney issued a statement on September 20 and called the attacks “terrorism.”
“It is, I think, self-evident that what happened in Benghazi was a terrorist attack. Our embassy was attacked violently and the result was four deaths of American officials – that’s self-evident,” Carney said.
President Obama later said “the natural protests that arose because of the outrage over the video were used as an excuse by extremists to see if they can also directly harm U.S. interests.”
He declined to comment on whether or not the attacks had been premeditated.
Then on “The View,” President Obama didn’t call it a terrorist attack but did say “it wasn’t just a mob action.”
Why did it take so long for the administration to start seeing these attacks for what they are?
If they were wrong with their early assessments then they should just come out and say it. Since it’s an election year, it appears they’re trying to slowly acknowledge the elephant in the room (no political pun intended).
The American people just want to know our government is going to protect those employed in our embassies and we want our officials to speak boldly with clarity on the situation. Unfortunately, when you have to filter through two weeks of mixed messages, it doesn’t give many Americans a sense of comfort in knowing that our officials are going to do what it takes to help our nation get through this crisis.
Lord willing, these protests will stop soon before more lives are lost and more unrest continues. Sorry, there are no polls available at the moment.