Commending the Four American Public Servants Who Died in Benghazi, Libya, Including Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, and Condemning the Violent Attack of the United States Consulate in Benghazi

Floor Speech

By:  John Kerry
Date: Sept. 12, 2012
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. KERRY. Mr. President, the deaths of Ambassador Stevens and his team are heartbreaking. It is easy for a lot of people to forget that our diplomats are on the frontlines of the world's most dangerous places and they are there trying to make the world a safer and better place at great risk to themselves and their families.

Chris Stevens was all that and more. He was a foreign service professional down to his toes, a guy who had served on the Foreign Relations Committee and embraced tough odds and tough assignments overseas. He had the guts and grit to serve as our envoy during the rebellion, and his presence there reminded Libyans that America stood with them for freedom in the face of violence. He was continuing that noble work as Ambassador with enormous skill.

He was an important part of the work we are doing in Libya, and we will not let this deplorable violence turn back the progress he helped make possible. Let's remember that Libyans fought to protect the consulate and rescue the Americans inside, and that Libyans took Chris to a hospital in a desperate and potentially dangerous attempt to save his life. Indeed, the best way to honor his memory and that of the four American public servants who perished in Benghazi is to continue their work. The United States must continue to support the aspirations of the people of Libya for political reform based on democratic and human rights and the development of an inclusive government that ensures freedom, opportunity, and justice for the people of Libya. This is what Chris Stevens would have wanted.

The violence in Cairo and Benghazi is unacceptable and unjustifiable. The stupidity of one filmmaker, no matter how offensive, is not now, and never, a rationale for violence. A despicable act like this hurts us all--Americans and peaceful people who aspire to build their own democracy. I commend President Obama for committing to bring the perpetrators of this attack to justice, and I am confident that this is precisely what the United States Government will do.

This is one of those moments when Americans must unite as Americans. It is exactly the wrong time to throw political punches. It is a time to restore calm and proceed wisely.

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