[Secretary Clinton] Yesterday, our U.S. diplomatic post in
Benghazi, Libya, was attacked.
Heavily armed militants assaulted the compound and set fire to our
American and Libyan security personnel battled the attackers
Four Americans were killed.
They included Sean Smith, a Foreign Service information management
and our Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens.
We are still making next-of-kin notifications for the other two
This is an attack that should shock the conscience of people of all
faiths around the world.
We condemn in the strongest terms this senseless act of violence,
and we send our prayers to the families, friends and colleagues of
those we’ve lost.
All over the world, every day, America’s diplomats and development
experts risk their lives
in the service of our country and our values,
because they believe that the United States must be a force for
peace and progress in the world,
that these aspirations are worth striving and sacrificing for.
Alongside our men and women in uniform, they represent the best
traditions of a bold and generous nation.
In the lobby of this building, the State Department,
the names of those who have fallen in the line of duty
are inscribed in marble.
Our hearts break over each one.
And now, because of this tragedy, we have new heroes to honor and
more friends to mourn.
Chris Stevens fell in love with the Middle East as a young Peace
Corps volunteer teaching English in Morocco.
He joined the Foreign Service, learned languages,
won friends for America in distant places and made other people’s
hopes his own.
In the early days of the Libyan revolution, I asked Chris to be our
envoy to the rebel opposition.
He arrived on a cargo ship in the port of Benghazi and began
building our relationships with Libya’s revolutionaries.
He risked his life to stop a tyrant, then gave his life trying to
help build a better Libya.
The world needs more Chris Stevenses.
I spoke with his sister, Ann, this morning, and told her that he
will be remembered as a hero by many nations.
Sean Smith was an Air Force veteran.
He spent 10 years as an information management officer in the State
he was posted at The Hague, and was in Libya on a brief temporary
He was a husband to his wife Heather, with whom I spoke this
He was a father to two young children, Samantha and Nathan.
They will grow up being proud of the service their father gave to
service that took him from Pretoria to Baghdad, and finally to
The mission that drew Chris and Sean and their colleagues to Libya
is both noble and necessary,
and we and the people of Libya honor their memory by carrying it
This is not easy.
Today, many Americans are asking — indeed, I asked myself — how
could this happen?
How could this happen in a country we helped liberate, in a city we
helped save from destruction?
This question reflects just how complicated and, at times, how
confounding the world can be.
But we must be clear-eyed, even in our grief.
This was an attack by a small and savage group — not the people or
government of Libya.
Everywhere Chris and his team went in Libya, in a country scarred by
war and tyranny,
they were hailed as friends and partners.
And when the attack came yesterday, Libyans stood and fought to
defend our post.
Some were wounded. Libyans carried Chris’ body to the hospital,
and they helped rescue and lead other Americans to safety.
And last night, when I spoke with the president of Libya, he
strongly condemned the violence
and pledged every effort to protect our people and pursue those
The friendship between our countries, borne out of shared struggle,
will not be another casualty of this attack.
A free and stable Libya is still in America’s interest and security,
and we will not turn our back on that,
nor will we rest until those responsible for these attacks are found
and brought to justice.
We are working closely with the Libyan authorities to move swiftly
We are also working with partners around the world to safeguard
other American embassies, consulates and citizens.
There will be more time later to reflect, but today we have work to
There is no higher priority than protecting our men and women
wherever they serve.
We are working to determine the precise motivations and methods of
those who carried out this assault.
Some have sought to justify this vicious behavior, along with the
protest that took place at our embassy in Cairo yesterday,
as a response to inflammatory material posted on the Internet.
America’s commitment to religious tolerance goes back to the very
beginning of our nation.
But let me be clear — there is no justification for this, none.
Violence like this is no way to honor religion or faith.
And as long as there are those who would take innocent life in the
name of God,
the world will never know a true and lasting peace.
It is especially difficult that this happened on September 11.
It’s an anniversary that means a great deal to all Americans.
Every year on that day, we are reminded that our work is not yet
that the job of putting an end to violent extremism and building a
safe and stable world continues.
But September 11 means even more than that.
It is a day on which we remember thousands of American heroes, the
bonds that connect all Americans,
wherever we are on this Earth, and the values that see us through
And now it is a day on which we will remember Sean, Chris and their
May God bless them, and may God bless the thousands of Americans
working in every corner of the world
who make this country the greatest force for peace, prosperity and
and a force that has always stood for human dignity — the greatest
force the world has ever known.
And may God continue to bless the United States of America.