On Tuesday, four Americans -- including an ambassador -- were killed when a mob of murderers stormed the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, an assault that came hours after a similar mob broke into the U.S. Embassy in Egypt and took down the U.S. flag, replacing it with a black one.
This is something to which the United States cannot turn the other cheek.
The attacks were at first described as angry reactions to an anti-Islamic YouTube video that was produced in America, but there was evidence Wednesday that the assaults on U.S. diplomatic missions may have been well planned out and coordinated attacks by terrorists to mark the anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks that resulted in deadly plane crashes that claimed nearly 3,000 lives in New York, at the Pentagon and in Pennsylvania.
And while every life is precious, it is also disturbing that America lost its first ambassador -- Chris Stevens, a friend to Libyans if they ever had one -- since the death of Ambassador Adolph Dubs, who was killed in Afghanistan back in 1979.
"I want to express my deepest sympathies to the families of those who were killed serving our country in Libya," U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Moultrie, vice chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, said Wednesday. "These Americans risked their lives to serve the interests of our country and assist the people of Libya.
"I am outraged by these attacks and concerned about reports that they were not spontaneous, but rather planned terrorist attacks on our country. The intelligence community needs to fully and immediately examine these claims and inform the president and Congress about how the attacks originated and who is responsible."
Initial reports stated that the violent reactions were to protest a video produced by a crackpot Florida preacher, Terry Jones, who last stirred tensions by burning copies of the Koran. Now Jones, who is anything but Christian in his behavior, is backing the video that portrays Muhammad as a womanizer and Muslims as homosexual, child-molesting madmen.
What Jones likely has done is he and his ilk have given their Islamic counterparts some political cover and a means of recruiting violent stooges to do their dirty work. Regardless, even if the assailants were offended by the video, that is no excuse for violent assaults, much less cold-blooded murder.
Sending more than four dozen Marines to Libya to shore up security was a good start, as was President Obama's orders to heighten security at other overseas U.S. diplomatic missions. But what has to come now is two things: Full cooperation by the Libyan government and the administration of justice to these killers.
"There is no justification for this," Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Wednesday. "None. Violence like this is no way to honor religion or faith and as long as there are those who would take innocent life in the name of God, the world will never know a true and lasting peace.
"This is not easy. Today, many Americans are asking, indeed I asked myself, how could this happen? How could this happen in a country we helped liberate, in a city we helped save from destruction? This question reflects just how complicated and, at times, just how confounding, the world can be."
If the United States does not stand strong on this, if we allow what was essentially attacks on American soil to go unpunished, we will be opening every consulate we maintain in the world to attack. Our response has to be swift, it has to be decisive, it has to be on target and it has to be a deterrent. Anything short of that means the murderers win and our people are at even greater risk.