Obama Raises U.S. Security Worldwide after Libya Envoy Killed
President Barack Obama on Wednesday strongly condemned the killing of the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three other embassy staff, calling it an "outrageous attack," and ordered stepped-up security at U.S. diplomatic posts worldwide.
The targeting of U.S. diplomats, in militant violence sparked by a U.S.-made film seen as insulting the Prophet Mohammad, could raise questions about Obama's policy toward Libya in the post-Gaddafi era as he seeks re-election in November.
Obama, apparently seeking to seize the initiative in the aftermath of the attack, planned to speak to reporters in the White House Rose Garden at 10:35 a.m. EDT with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at his side.
"I have directed my administration to provide all necessary resources to support the security of our personnel in Libya and to increase security at our diplomatic posts around the globe," Obama said in a written statement.
Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other U.S. diplomats were killed as they rushed away from a consulate building in Benghazi, stormed by al Qaeda-linked gunmen blaming America for the film that they said mocked the Prophet of Islam.
Sean Smith, a foreign service information management officer, was identified as one of the diplomats killed, in a statement by Clinton. The names of the two others were withheld while the government notified their families.
Stevens, a 21-year veteran of the foreign service, was one of the first American officials on the ground in Benghazi during the uprising against former Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi last year.
Gaddafi was ousted by rebel forces backed by NATO air power in August 2011 and was killed in October after months as a fugitive.
Obama had hailed Libya's election in July as a milestone in its post-Gaddafi democratic transition and pledged the United States would act as a partner even as he cautioned that there would still be difficult challenges ahead.
He had opted for a cautious strategy that steered clear of a dominant role for the U.S. military and faced criticism from Republican opponents at home for what was described as "leading from behind."
CAMPAIGN IMPACT ...