U.S. President Barack Obama said Wednesday that he directed his administration to increase embassy security around the world after the attack that killed the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three staffers.
The death of Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and the staffers came amid protests at the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya. Demonstrators also attacked the U.S. embassy in Cairo where they tore down the U.S. flag. Protesters in both countries were apparently angry about an online film considered offensive to Islam.
Fmr. Pentagon spokeswoman Torie Clarke says the two protests seemed planned. “It seems like such a coincidence that these two protests that were going on in two different places happened at the same time,” says Clarke. “It happened on 9/11. To me it sounds like there was more planning then just a random mob.”
Clarke, who served through three presidential administrations went on to add “it is very very important for our government, for our senior officials to be making strong statements condemning the violence… encouraging, urging the Egyptian government, the Libyan government to get to the bottom of this and make sure the people who did this are brought to justice.”
On the topic of where the U.S. is on foreign policy in the region Clarke says she does not know “what it is we’re trying to accomplish.” “I hear that we’re trying to help them set up democratic forms of government great. How are we doing that? I hear that there’s a bit of… maybe there are plenty of things going on on the ground and things going on behind the scenes but I think we need and very very strong and clear discussion of what we’re trying to accomplish. And maybe then we can better access how we’re doing,” concludes Clarke.
CNN contributor Fran Townsend weighs in on the death of American ambassador Chris Stevens in Libya following attacks Tuesday on the U.S. consulate in Libya and the embassy in Egypt.
“Chris Stevens had a particular sort of affinity for Benghazi,” says Townsend, the former Homeland Security advisor to the Bush administration. “At the height of the fighting, he was with the rebels in Benghazi before there was sort of an official consulate, an establishment there, and that’s prior of course to being appointed ambassador. He knew Benghazi. He knew the rebels in Benghazi. He felt very comfortable there. This is a guy who was a real professional who rolled his sleeves up. He wanted to help the Libyans get the freedom that they had fought for and so it’s an extraordinary loss not only for the state department, and obviously Chris’ family, it’s a loss to the country.”
Townsend adds that the international community has turned its attention away from Libya and that there needs to be a commitment to developing institutions and establishments in the country. “Libya has been in a very fragile security situation and really needs the attention and support of the international community,” she says. “Unfortunately, it will now get the attention it needed before this tragedy, it will get it now because of this.”