Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, who was killed along with three other Americans when the U.S. consulate was attacked in Benghazi on Sept. 11, was remembered yesterday in a memorial service in San Francisco.
"Democracy is not a spectator sport, and Christopher Stevens was a full participant in his beloved democracy," former Secretary of State George Shultz said of Stevens, the first American ambassador to be killed in the line of duty since 1979. Stevens proved he was a "full participant" since he was often the lone U.S. representative on the ground during the nine months of Libya's revolution.
A diary belonging to Stevens found in the burned-out consulate by a reporter indicates that the ambassador himself was concerned about security threats.
Last night, when a member of the audience directly asked Obama about the attack, the president responded that the buck stops with him. Romney pressed Obama on the conflicting statements from the administration since it took weeks before White House officials finally admitted it had been a terrorist attack.
"There were many days that passed before we knew whether this was a spontaneous demonstration, or actually whether it was a terrorist attack. And there was no demonstration involved. It was a terrorist attack and it took a long time for that to be told to the American people," Romney said. "I want to make sure we get that for the record because it took the president 14 days before he called the attack in Benghazi an act of terror."
Candy Crowley, the moderator who is a CNN political correspondent, said the president "did call it an act of terror" the next day but admitted that "it did as well take two weeks or so for the whole idea there being a riot out there about this tape to come out."
The actual transcript of Obama's Rose Garden speech shows he did use the phrase "acts of terror," but it isn't clear if he was describing the Libya attacks or referencing the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks in 2001.
What has gone unanswered is why the White House continued to cite a crazy You Tube video for the attack. On Sept. 13, White House spokesman Jay Carney insisted that "the protests we're seeing around the region are in reaction to this movie."
On Sept. 16, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice appeared on five Sunday talks shows, claiming the attacks were spontaneous responses over the anti-Islam video.
And on The Late Show with David Letterman on Sept. 18 and in an interview at Univision Town Hall on Sept. 20, Obama continued to cite the video.
The fact that this administration refused for weeks to admit that the Libyan attack was terrorism should have been more vigorously pursued in last night's debate but moderator Crowley and Obama were anxious to move on to another topic.
Another important segment on the Libyan issue reflects on presidential leadership. Why would Obama choose to go to Las Vegas fundraiser the day after our U.S. ambassador and three other Americans are killed in a terrorist attack against the U. S.?
When Romney asked about it last night, Obama said he found it offensive to insinuate that either he or his staff would play politics on the matter. But he never directly answered the question about his priorities the very next day after the deadly attacks.
Americans deserve answers on the mishandling of this foreign policy disaster which cost much more than President Obama's hurt feelings.
It cost four American lives.
By Jim Zbick