International Affairs: #6 Libya

On Sept. 11 this year, four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens, were killed in an attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya. Initial reports said the slain staffers were trying to flee the consulate building, under assault by a mob of protesters apparently angry over the film trailer "Innocence of Muslims," which mocked the Prophet Muhammad. But evidence pointed to a planned strike by an affiliate of al-Qaida and other groups that exploited, or possibly organized, the demonstrations.

"The United States condemns in the strongest terms this outrageous and shocking attack," President Obama said the next day. "No acts of terror will ever shake the resolve of this great nation, alter that character, or eclipse the light of the values that we stand for."

But the attack—and the Obama administration's reluctance to immediately label it an act of terror—became a controversial talking point among conservatives during the presidential campaign. In addition to hearings, a partisan divide has opened up against U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice, whom Obama had been reportedly considering as a successor to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

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