AFSA Statement on the Tragic Deaths of American Diplomatic Personnel in Libya
We are deeply saddened and mourn the tragic loss of Ambassador Chris Stevens, Foreign Service Information Management Specialist Sean Smith, and their colleagues in the outrageous and cowardly attack on the American consulate in Benghazi, Libya. We extend our heartfelt condolences and sympathy to the families and loved ones of those killed. Their service and example are an inspiration to us all.
The violent attack on U.S. diplomatic compounds once again underscores the dangers that American diplomats face in service to our country.
AFSA deplores attacks and use of violence against diplomats and diplomatic missions. We oppose intentional efforts to offend religious feelings. We firmly believe in diplomacy and commitment to sustained dialogue to resolve differences of whatever sort and for better mutual understanding among peoples of differing faiths, ideologies and cultures.
Susan R. Johnson
WASHINGTON, DC – Sept. 13, 2012 – The American Academy of Diplomacy mourns the tragic loss of Ambassador John Christopher “Chris” Stevens, Foreign Service Information Management Specialist Sean Smith, and their colleagues in the outrageous attack on the American consulate in Benghazi, Libya. Each of these individuals served America with distinction in a profoundly complex and dangerous environment. We extend our most sincere and deeply felt condolence to the families and loved ones of those killed. We totally condemn those who carried out this attack against all norms of civilized behavior and international law.
We are saddened by their loss and honor their memory. Diplomats around the world are the first line of American security. From Lebanon to Kenya, Cyprus to Afghanistan, and Tanzania to Iraq they have repeatedly paid the ultimate price for their service to the nation. Despite the risks they will continue to pursue the foreign policy goals of the United States.
The Academy salutes the courageous men and women of the Foreign Service and their colleagues from USAID, other agencies and cabinet departments who represent the United States abroad. In particular we recognize those in Libya who will carry on the diplomatic work despite these shocking losses. At this time of sorrow we encourage all Americans to come together in support of these brave civilians just as, together, we mourn those who have fallen.
Ambassador Ronald E. Neumann (ret.)
Ambassador Thomas R. Pickering (ret.)
More information can be found on the State Department Historian FAQ page on Ambassadors: http://history.state.gov/about/faq/ambassadors-and-chiefs-of-mission.
As of September 2012, eight U.S. ambassadors have died in the line of duty:
Laurence A. Steinhardt, who was Ambassador to Canada, was killed in a plane crash near Ramseyville, Ontario on March 28, 1950.
John Gordon Mein, in Guatemala, on August 28, 1968
Cleo A. Noel, Jr., in Sudan, on March 1, 1973
Rodger P. Davies, in Cyprus, on August 19, 1974
Francis E. Meloy, Jr., in Lebanon, on June 16, 1976
Adolph Dubs, Afghanistan, on February 14, 1979
Arnold L. Raphel, who was Ambassador to Pakistan, was killed in a plane crash near Bahawalpur on August 17, 1988. (Arnold L. Raphel’s plane crash was suspected to be caused by terrorist activity but not proven.)
John Christopher Stevens, September 11, 2012. Stevens was killed by a mob who attacked the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya.
Here’s the link, to AFSA’s plaque wall in the State Department: http://www.afsa.org/memorial_plaques.aspx which has an additional link to all the names on the wall. There have been 165 deaths inscribed on the wall since 1950.
Statement from Secretary Clinton
Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
September 12, 2012
It is with profound sadness that I share the news of the death of four American personnel in Benghazi, Libya yesterday. Among them were United States Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens and Foreign Service Information Management Officer, Sean Smith. We are still making next of kin notifications for the other two individuals. Our hearts go out to all their families and colleagues.
A 21 year veteran of the Foreign Service, Ambassador Stevens died last night from injuries he sustained in the attack on our office in Benghazi.
I had the privilege of swearing in Chris for his post in Libya only a few months ago. He spoke eloquently about his passion for service, for diplomacy and for the Libyan people. This assignment was only the latest in his more than two decades of dedication to advancing closer ties with the people of the Middle East and North Africa which began as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Morocco. As the conflict in Libya unfolded, Chris was one of the first Americans on the ground in Benghazi. He risked his own life to lend the Libyan people a helping hand to build the foundation for a new, free nation. He spent every day since helping to finish the work that he started. Chris was committed to advancing America’s values and interests, even when that meant putting himself in danger.
Sean Smith was a husband and a father of two, who joined the Department ten years ago. Like Chris, Sean was one of our best. Prior to arriving in Benghazi, he served in Baghdad, Pretoria, Montreal, and most recently The Hague.
All the Americans we lost in yesterday’s attacks made the ultimate sacrifice. We condemn this vicious and violent attack that took their lives, which they had committed to helping the Libyan people reach for a better future.
America’s diplomats and development experts stand on the front lines every day for our country. We are honored by the service of each and every one of them.