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Personal account of James Miller, Managing Editor of The Interpreter, a publication on Russia, Ukraine, and Syria. A contributor at Reuters, The Daily Beast, RFE/RL, elsewhere.
James Miller
9/11 Attack on Libyan Embassy

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Personal account of James Miller, Managing Editor of The Interpreter, a publication on Russia, Ukraine, and Syria. A contributor at Reuters, The Daily Beast, RFE/RL, elsewhere.
18 Months - Iraq vs. Libya - No Comparison.

There are many unanswered questions about the 9/11 embassy attack on Libya. How were Americans killed? How was the attack conducted? How is the investigation being handled.

But let's remember how hard it is to rebuild a nation after years of war.

Iraq - US forces conduct a preemptive invasion to remove Saddam Hussein because he was suspected of having weapons of mass destruction. The US made up the bulk of the invasion force, took the most coalition casualties, and paid for the vast majority of the war.

There were 1201 Coalition fatalities between the invasion in March 2003 and October 2004, a casualty rate that would stay constant or increase until 2008, with an additional 15,000 to 100,000 civilians killed in the conflict. Though coalition forces have now withdrawn, intense violence continues to this day.

Amount of times 30,000+ people have held a pro-US rally = 0

Free elections had not yet been held by this time in 2004.

George W. Bush was reelected in November. His message was that Saddam Hussein posed an imminent threat (though no weapons of mass destruction were ever found) and  the American people needed to be patient and stay the course, or risk the collapse of the provisional government. 

Libya - NATO, following a UN Resolution brokered by the Obama administration, conducts a no-fly zone in Libya. No US personnel conduct combat missions, and no US troops are deployed. The United States takes no casualties in the effort to remove Colonel Gaddafi from power. The European nations commit the bulk of the combat aircraft and pay the majority of the cost for the initial phase of the crisis.

In approximately 18 months of conflict, the most liberal number of total casualties, including combatants, was 30,000. Most sources say the total amount of deaths was approximately 15,000, with between 5,000 and 7,000 civilians killed. The conflict was over in 8 months, and claimed 1 coalition casualty (a British pilot). Since then, very few people have been killed by combatants, but 4 US embassy personnel were killed in a tragic attack on a US consulate in Benghazi on September 11th. After this rally, more than 30,000 Libyans rallied outside the embassy to express sympathy for the United States. After the rally, a group split off an attacked the headquarters of the militia suspected of conducting the attack.

There is no ongoing or persistent violence in Libya, though occasional battles between Libyan government forces and militias are fought, claiming few casualties. 

President Barack Obama is running for reelection in November. His message is that the country of Libya, both the new government and the populace of the country are overwhelmingly pro-American, and a major threat had been removed with minimal cost or loss of American life. The American people need to be patient and need to support the new and democratically elected government so that it can continue to improve the country and stabilize the security situation.

As you can see, there is no comparison.  

Personal account of James Miller, Managing Editor of The Interpreter, a publication on Russia, Ukraine, and Syria. A contributor at Reuters, The Daily Beast, RFE/RL, elsewhere.
The Timeline

Here's what happened on September 11, 2012.

Protests began to grow throughout the day in Cairo, Egypt, over videos, published by independent individuals, that depicted the Prophet Muhammed in a negative light.

Before the peak of those protests, the US embassy in Cairo issued a statement that was designed to be, well, diplomatic. The statement said that the embassy, "condemns the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims – as we condemn efforts to offend believers of all religions...Respect for religious beliefs is a cornerstone of American democracy. We firmly reject the actions by those who abuse the universal right of free speech to hurt the religious beliefs of others."

This statement was made when there were no protests in Libya, and the protests in Cairo were expected but would not start for nearly another 4 hours. This statement was made by the Embassy itself, and was not approved by the State Department.

Soon, however, protests swelled. Egyptian police, responsible for controlling crowds outside of the embassy, were overwhelmed, and many hours later, at 6:30 PM, some protesters climbed the walls, removed the US flag and burned it, and raised an Islamist flag. The protests were initially organized by Coptic Christians, working with Islamist groups, who were trying to distance themselves between their own beliefs and the videos, allegedly made by people affiliated with Coptic groups in the US.

No one was injured, none of the protesters had visible weapons, and the protesters eventually left. 

Hours later, protests grew outside the US consulate in Benghazi, Libya, and then a terrorist attack killed 4 US embassy staff, including US Ambassador Stevens.

At some point after this, the US State Department disavowed the earlier statements made by the Cairo Embassy, and issued its own statements condemning the attacks on the embassies.

It is at this point that Romney, and other members of the GOP, launch their political attacks. At 10:09 PM (EST), Romney released this statement to the press:

I'm outraged by the attacks on American diplomatic missions in Libya and Egypt and by the death of an American consulate worker in Benghazi. It's disgraceful that the Obama Administration's first response was not to condemn attacks on our diplomatic missions, but to sympathize with those who waged the attacks.

This statement came with an instruction to not release it to the public until after 9/11 was over. Exactly 15 minutes later, a second email says that the statement can be released immediately. Just after midnight, Reince Preibus, the chairman of the Republican National Committee, sends this Tweet.

Both Romney's statements, and Priebus's, insinuate that the original Cairo statement was made after attacks on embassies were committed. As a point of order, the statement made by the Cairo embassy could neither "condemn attacks" nor "sympathize with the attackers in Egypt" as no attacks had been made.

Read the follow up to this article that analyzes Mitt Romney's statements further, as well as the media's response to the claims made by prominent members of the GOP - 

EA Special: Mitt Romney's "Deviant" Politics, a Slain Ambassador, and the Death of American Objectivity