Exactly 11 years after the September 11th attacks, the tragic and troubling events in Libya and the greater Middle East are a reminder that freedom and American values remain a target for violent extremists.
By all accounts, Ambassador Chris Stevens and the three other Americans murdered in Libya were exemplary public servants. Many Libyans knew Ambassador Stevens as an ally who worked tirelessly, often at great personal risk, to protect and support them during the uprising that toppled Gadhafi's brutal regime. The other victims include two former Navy SEALs, Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty, and State Department Information Management Officer Sean Smith, who had served in the Air Force. The sympathy and prayers of all Americans are with the families of these brave foreign service workers who dedicated their lives to serving their country.
Information is still being gathered regarding possible security deficiencies that left Americans vulnerable, and investigators are also still determining who was responsible for the attacks. While initial reports indicated unorganized mob violence, other evidence points to a planned, systematic assault carried out by terror groups using the manufactured protests as cover.
Regardless of the outcome of the ongoing investigation, we can state some conclusions with certainty. First, there is absolutely no justification for such violence, and America will not tolerate attacks on our sovereign territory overseas.
Next, the attacks raise serious questions about U.S. involvement in Libya. The Libyan government and people owe their freedom in large measure to U.S. men and women in uniform. As such, Libya's complete cooperation is demanded to bring swift and sure punishment to those responsible. The manner in which Libyan officials respond will impact whatever support they can expect from the U.S. Congress going forward. Our initial action in Libya was launched by President Obama without the constitutionally required approval of Congress, yet Congress can and will exercise the power of the purse to protect American interests. I serve on two Appropriations Committee panels that determine spending for defense and foreign operations, and I can assure Oklahomans that efforts are ongoing to ensure that governments who undermine American values will not benefit from American generosity.
Finally, these tragic events leave no doubt that enemies of freedom still actively seek to do us harm. Osama bin Laden may be dead, but al Qaeda and other likeminded terrorist networks still strive to carry out his evil work. An American foreign policy based on firm leadership, consistency, strength and resolve -- in both words and actions -- is just as vital today as it was in September 2001.