I'm just getting caught up on all the pieces of this myself, but I wanted to open a thread for discussion and share some of what I've been reading this morning. Please feel welcome and encouraged, as always, to drop in comments links to things you've been reading and/or writing.
Nasser Arrabyee and Alan Cowell in the New York Times—Turmoil Spreads to US Embassy in Yemen:
Turmoil in the Arab world linked to an American-made video denigrating the Prophet Muhammad spread on Thursday to Yemen, where hundreds of protesters attacked the American Embassy, two days after assailants killed the American ambassador in Libya and crowds tried to overrun the embassy compound in Cairo.Gillian Flaccus for the AP—California Man Confirms Role in Anti-Islam Film: "The search for those behind the provocative, anti-Muslim film implicated in violent protests in Egypt and Libya led Wednesday to a California Coptic Christian convicted of financial crimes who acknowledged his role in managing and providing logistics for the production. Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, 55, told The Associated Press in an interview outside Los Angeles that he was manager for the company that produced 'Innocence of Muslims,' which mocked Muslims and the prophet Muhammad and may have caused inflamed mobs that attacked U.S. missions in Egypt and Libya."
News reports also spoke of a separate protest in Tehran, where around 500 Iranians chanting "Death to America" tried to converge on the Swiss Embassy, which handles United States interests in the absence of formal diplomatic relations with Washington. Hundreds of police officers held the crowds back from the diplomatic compound, witnesses said.
For a third straight day at the American Embassy in Cairo, protesters scuffled with police firing tear gas, witnesses said, and the state news agency reported that 13 people were injured. In Iraq, a militant Shiite group, Asaib Ahl al-Haq, once known for its violent attacks on Americans and other Westerners, reportedly said the video "will put all American interests in danger." Protests were also reported at American missions in Morocco, Sudan and Tunisia, where the police also fired tear gas to disperse crowds.
In Washington, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton criticized the violent anti-American protests but she also denounced the video in forceful terms. "This video is disgusting and reprehensible," Mrs. Clinton said in remarks at the State Department, broadcast live on CNN.
Reuters—Protest at US embassy in Tunisia: "Tunisian police fired teargas and rubber bullets into the air [yesterday] to disperse a protest over a US-made film depicting the Prophet Mohammad near the US Embassy in the capital Tunis, reporters said."
Matthew Weaver and Brian Whitaker for the Guardian—Yemen Protesters Storm US Embassy: Live Coverage.
Hisham Matar for the New Yorker—On the Benghazi Attack:
No specific group claimed responsibility for the attack, which was well orchestrated and involved heavy weapons. It is thought to be the work of the same Salafi, ultra-religious groups who have perpetrated similar assaults in Benghazi. They are religious, authoritarian groups who justify their actions through very selective, corrupt, and ultimately self-serving interpretations of Islam... They see in these days, in which the new Libya and its young institutions are still fragile, an opportunity to grab power. They want to exploit the impatient resentments of young people in particular in order to disrupt progress and the development of democratic institutions.It is Matar's supposition that the Libyan attack/assassination was not actually "motivated by the film that the assailants, and many news networks, claim was their motive," but that the film is being retroactively cited as motive for a terrorist attack.
Even though they appear to be well funded from abroad and capable of ruthless acts of violence against Libyans and foreigners, these groups have so far failed to gain widespread support. In fact, the opposite: their actions have alienated most Libyans.
Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens was a popular figure in Libya, and nowhere more than in Benghazi. Friends and relatives there tell me that the city is mournful. There have been spontaneous demonstrations denouncing the attack. Popular Libyan Internet sites are full of condemnations of those who carried out the assault. And there was a general air of despondency in the city Wednesday night. The streets were not as crowded and bustling as usual. There is a deep and palpable sense that Benghazi, the proud birthplace of the revolution, has failed to protect a highly regarded guest. There is outrage that Tripoli is yet to send government officials to Benghazi to condemn the attacks, instigate the necessary investigations and visit the Libyan members of the consulate staff who were wounded in the attack. There is anger too towards the government's failure to protect hospitals, courtrooms, and other embassies that have suffered similar attacks recently in Benghazi. The city seems to have been left at the mercy of fanatics. And many fear that it will now become isolated.
AP—Fact Check: Romney Misstates Facts on Attacks:
The gunfire at the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, had barely ceased when Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney seriously mischaracterized what had happened in a statement accusing President Barack Obama of "disgraceful" handling of violence there and at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo.Kevin Drum for Mother Jones—Obama Smear Was a Team Effort, Says Romney Team: "[T]he whole thing was carefully orchestrated: 'Aides said it was drafted by committee—a team effort by one group of advisers specializing in policy, the communications team and the strategy shop. ....Mr. Romney's criticism fed into his larger theme of painting Mr. Obama as apologizing for the United States, and his team stuck by it.'"
"The Obama administration's first response was not to condemn attacks on our diplomatic missions, but to sympathize with those who waged the attacks," Romney said in a statement first emailed to reporters at 10:09 p.m. Eastern time, under the condition it not be published until midnight.
In fact, neither a statement by the U.S. Embassy in Cairo earlier in the day nor a later statement from Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton offered sympathy for attackers. The statement from the Cairo Embassy had condemned anti-Muslim religious incitement before the embassy walls were breached. In her statement, issued minutes before Romney's, Clinton had offered the administration's first response to the violence in Libya, explicitly condemning the attack there and confirming the death of a State Department official.
"I condemn in the strongest terms the attack on our mission in Benghazi today," Clinton said in a written statement received by The Associated Press at 10:08 p.m. "As we work to secure our personnel and facilities, we have confirmed that one of our State Department officers was killed. We are heartbroken by this terrible loss."
CNN—Romney Camp Tries to Manage Fallout from Libya Response: "Facing criticism for its aggressive and politically-charged response to Tuesday's violent attacks on the American embassies in Egypt and Libya, Mitt Romney's presidential campaign is quietly advising Republicans how to respond to questions about the campaign's handling of the episode. In talking points currently being pushed to Republican leaders and top surrogates, the Romney campaign recommends attacking President's Obama 'foreign policy of weakness' and dismissing questions about how the campaign responded to the crisis last night."
Justin Sink for The Hill—Sen. Inhofe: Embassy Attacks a Result of Obama's 'Policy of Appeasement': "Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) said Thursday that the attacks on American embassies in the Middle East were happening as a result of 'the policy of appeasement' and called for immediate congressional hearings into the violence that has left four foreign service officers dead. ... Inhofe was then asked by Fox host Steve Doocy if the attacks were the result of President Obama's foreign policy, and specifically his 'apology tour' when he visited Egypt at the beginning of his presidency. Although the president did not issue any apologies during that trip, Republicans have criticized the tone as too conciliatory. 'Yeah. What foreign policy? The policy of appeasement,' Inhofe said."
Amanda Terkel for HuffPo—Todd Akin: Obama Is 'Apologizing Because He Didn't Like America': "Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.), a member of the House Armed Services Committee, responded to the protests in the Middle East on Wednesday, saying he believed President Barack Obama was 'apologizing' to hostile countries around the world. 'First of all, apologizing to all people, [to] a lot of countries who are enemies, and apologizing to them and everything. You know, if we did something wrong, that's one thing. But he's just apologizing because he didn't like America? I think that's the wrong thing to do,' said Akin, outlining why he disagreed with Obama's foreign policy."
And this fucking guy:
The attacks on our embassies & diplomats are a result of perceived American weakness. Mitt Romney is right to point that out.— Donald Rumsfeld (@RumsfeldOffice) September 12, 2012
Paul Krugman—Why the Vileness Matters: "There will probably be some voters moved directly against Romney by this spectacle, and none moved toward him. ... [T]he real impact probably comes via the press. ... Romney has really ensured that everyone in the news media, the GOP propaganda organs aside, is going to view him with distaste and alarm—as well they should."