Congressman Gregory W. Meeks (D-NY), a senior member of the House Foreign Relations Committee, released the following statement condemning the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, and on the U.S. embassy in Cairo, Egypt, on Tuesday and the death of U.S. Ambassador to Libya John Christopher Stevens and three other embassy staff:
"I condemn in the strongest terms the attacks on our consulate in Libya and embassy in Egypt and the death of U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens and three other public servants in the eastern city of Benghazi. Ambassador Stevens was a skilled and dedicated diplomat who energetically advanced U.S. foreign policy goals in North Africa and supported development of a democratic Libya. I offer my deepest condolences to his family and to the families of the others lost in this attack. We will keep them in our thoughts and prayers. Our prayers and concern goes out to all members of our diplomatic corps, who strive to secure international peace, stability, and prosperity, to advance U.S. interests and values, and to enhance international understanding.
"Today's priority is to ensure the security of our diplomats worldwide. Through them and through our other government leaders we forge and strengthen relationships with other nations -- relationships that will protect our common future.
"Tuesday's attack was all the more tragic, occurring, as it did, on September 11 -- a day of mourning and remembrance of the terrorist attacks on the United States and on freedom and democracy around the world. We recall that among the founding principles of this country are freedom of religious observance and freedom of speech. We deplore the denigration of any religious group or belief, as we deplore all bigotry; yet we staunchly defend the right to express one's view."