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Obama: Stevens gave his life for U.S., Libyan friends

11:47 AM, Sep 14, 2012   |    comments
President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clintonduring Transfer of Remains Ceremony at Andrews Air Force Base, Maryland for four Americans killed in U.S. Consulate attack in Benghazi, Libya
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David Jackson
USA Today

President Obama today honored slain ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans killed in this week's attack on a U.S. consulate in Libya.

"Chris Stevens was everything America could want in an ambassador, as the whole country has come to see," Obama said as the bodies of the slain men were returned to the United States.

Noting that Stevens worked in Libya before the fall of Moammar Gadhafi, and helped it forge a new government in the two years since, Obama echoed the Scripture that "teaches us greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends."

In Benghazi on Tuesday, Stevens "laid down his life for his friends, Libyan and American -- and for us all," the president said.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton also spoke a "transfer of remains" ceremony at Andrews Air Force Base, saying that Stevens won friends for the United States in far-flung places."

Clinton also attributed attacks on U.S. diplomatic offices in Libya and other Middle East nations to an anti-Islam video "that we had nothing to do with." Clinton said, "it is hard for the American people to make sense of that because it is senseless and it is totally unacceptable."

As did Obama, Clinton called on governments in the region to step up security of American embassy facilities: "The people of Egypt, Libya, Yemen and Tunisia did not trade the tyranny of a dictator for the tyranny of a mob."

Also killed in Tuesday's attack: Diplomat Sean Smith, and Navy SEALS Glen A. Doherty and Tyrone S. Woods.

"Four Americans, four patriots," Obama said. "They loved this country. And they chose to serve it, and served it well."

Vowing to track perpetrators, Obama said the violence should not lead Americans to oppose engagement with other nations. He cited other Libyans who took to the streets with signs praising Stevens and expressing their gratitude, saying "that's the message these four patriots sent. "

Said Obama: "Even as voices of suspicion and mistrust seek to divide countries and cultures from one another, the United States of America will never retreat from the world."

Earlier, Obama, Clinton, and Vice President Biden watched as four flag-draped coffins were taken off a military transport plane, and loaded onto four black hearses.

The Americans died Tuesday after protesters stormed the consulate in Benghazi, Libya.

Some protesters cited the online anti-Islam film as their reason, but U.S. officials are also investigating the possibility of a pre-planned attack designed to coincide with the 9/11 anniversary.

Obama -- who has vowed to capture the perpetrators -- praised Stevens in remarks on Tuesday, saying: "It's especially tragic that Chris Stevens died in Benghazi because it is a city that he helped to save."

USA Today

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