(CNSNews.com) – Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano told Senate Homeland Security Committee Chairman Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.) Wednesday that the anti-Muslim film, “The Innocence of Muslims,” was “deplorable” and “is not, never, and never will be an excuse for violence.”
“What we need to keep communicating is as deplorable as we find that film to be, it is not, never, and never will be an excuse for violence and for the senseless killed we saw in Benghazi and other places,” she said.
“And we need that voice to come loud and clear, not just from Washington, but from the country as a whole internationally, and it needs to come from people of all faiths,” Napolitano added.
DHS and the FBI released a bulletin last Thursday, indicating that the film was “the apparent catalyst” for the protests and that it “could increase the risk of violence here in the United States and could motivate homegrown violent extremists,” Lieberman said during the hearing on the current threats to U.S. homeland security.
“I know that last Thursday, the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI released a bulletin indicating that this film was the apparent catalyst for these protests and that that fact could increase the risk of violence here in the United States and could motivate homegrown violent extremists – certainly with their recruitment efforts and perhaps with actions,” Lieberman said.
The movie claims that Muhammad was a fraud. There’s also controversy surrounding who made the film. Initially, a man named Sam Bacile claimed he wrote and directed it, but the Associated Press reports that he has made other claims that appear to be false, and he has gone into hiding.
U.S. ambassador to Libya, Chris Stevens, and three others were killed in an attack on a U.S. consulate in Benghazi last week on the anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks.
Napolitano said the film “is absolutely not representative of America or the American government. It is deplorable.”
Lieberman asked Napolitano what the U.S. government “is trying to do now to challenge people in the Muslim world to confront the reality that this film is not representative of America or the American government.”
“The issue you raise is a difficult one. We are a country where people have rights, and one of the rights they have is to have free speech, and that can include things we find deplorable as well as other things,” Napolitano said.
“So we also recognize that there’s a right to assembly, a right to petition the government, so we recognize the right to have a peaceful demonstration against deplorable speech,” she added.
Lieberman said if religious or political leader abroad attacked America, Christians, or Jews, it would be unacceptable for a group to seize on that and attack the embassy of the country in which that happened.
“I know this is very sensitive…but we have to ask our friends in the Muslim world to be willing to say, ‘This film doesn’t represent us, and therefore, it is simply unacceptable even if you’re offended by the film’ – which we understand – ‘to do more than protest, to begin to act violently,’” he said.
Lieberman asked Napolitano if DHS is proactively addressing “the potentially higher risk of homegrown terrorist acts as the result of the film.”
“Right now, Mr. Chairman, we have no intelligence of impending violent attacks within the United States,” Napolitano said, adding that there are some planned demonstrations in Los Angeles, Houston and other places.
“Nonetheless, immediately after the attack in Benghazi, we began outreach to a number groups within the country – faith-based groups and others – who could be the target of a violent attack and provided them with guidance on things they can do to make sure they are as safe as possible. So we continue that outreach,” she said.
Napolitano added that DHS will continue to work with “local partners, in terms of what they’re seeing on the ground and then monitoring the open source media.”