Obama, Hillary Clinton honor return of Libya attack victims
President Barack Obama spoke at a solemn ceremony for the four men killed in this week's attack on the US consulate in Libya, vowing that the United States will "never retreat from the world."
At Andrews Air Force Base, the president paid tribute to US ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens, Sean Smith, Glen A. Doherty and Tyrone S. Woods. Doherty and Woods were former Navy SEALS.
"They had a mission and they believed in it. They knew the danger and they accepted it. They didn't simply embrace the American ideal. They lived it. They embodied it," said Obama.
Both Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton spoke of the "difficult days" of protests in the Muslim world over an anti-Islam film that circulated on the internet.
Clinton noted the "rage and violence "over an awful internet video that [the United States government] had nothing to do with. "It's hard for the American people to make sense of that because it is senseless and it is totally unacceptable."
She also said that the people whose protests sparked the Arab Spring "did not trade tyranny of a dictator for the tyranny of a mob."
Obama and Clinton both cited examples of Libyans who took to the streets with English messages, including, "Chris Stevens was a friend to all Libyans. Chris Stevens was a friend," and "Thugs and killers don't represent Benghazi or Islam."
The president said that in order to honor the memories of the four Americans killed in Libya, Americans must embrace the "fundamental American belief that we can leave this world a little better than before. That's who they were and that's who we are."
"We will never stop working for the dignity and freedom that every person deserves, whatever their creed, whatever their faith. That's the spirit that sets us apart from other nations," Obama said.
Clinton called on "reasonable people and leaders in these countries" to do "everything they can to restore security and hold accountable those behind these violent acts."
She also said that the US would continue to protect its personnel around the world. Clinton warned that there would be "more difficult days ahead," but said it was important that the US didn't lose sight "of the fundamental fact that America must keep leading the world" and "continue the long hard work of diplomacy."
Clinton said she was "enormously proud of the women and women of the State Department," as well as those across the government, "civilian and military alike, who represent America abroad. They help make us for greatest force for peace, progress and human dignity the world has ever known. This work and men and women who risk their lives to do it are at the heart of what makes America great and good."
Obama and Vice President Joe Biden joined Secretary of State Clinton and Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta to express condolences in a private waiting area at the Andrews Air Force Base terminal.
U.S. officials are investigating whether the assault was a coordinated terrorist attack that took advantage of protests in the Arab world over an anti-Muslim video.