Clinton: ‘How Can This Happen in a Country We Helped Liberate?’

Staff | September 12, 2012 | 11:24am EDT
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Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton delivers remarks during a press conference at the U.S. Consulate in Vladivostok, Russia Sunday, Sept. 9, 2012. (AP Photo/Jim Watson, Pool)

( - "All of us are inspired by what is happening in Libya," Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said one year ago as she hailed the revolution taking place in that country, praising the Libyan people for "taking back their country."

Today -- on the day after the 9-11 attacks in Egypt and Libya in which the U.S. ambassador to Libya was killed -- a weary-looking Clinton said she’s asking herself how it could happen:

“How can this happen in a country we help liberate, in a city (Benghazi) we helped save from destruction?”

Clinton said that question “reflects just how complicated, and at times, how confounding the world can be.”

Speaking at the State Department, Clinton said, “This was an attack by a small and savage group. Not the people or government of Libya.”

She also praised the late U.S. Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens, to whom she delivered the oath of office earlier this year:

“Everywhere that Chris and his team went in Libya -- in a country scarred by war and tyranny, they were hailed as friends and partners.

“And when the attack came yesterday, Libyans stood and fought to defend our post. Some were wounded. Libyans carried Chris’ body to the hospital and they helped rescue and lead other Americans to safety.”

In a written statement on Wednesday, Clinton noted that U.S. Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens "was one of the first Americans on the ground in Benghazi."

She said he "risked his life" to help the Libyan people build a better future.

"The friendship between our countries, borne out of shared struggle, will not be another casualty of this attack," Clinton said at the State Department Wednesday. "A free and stable Libya is still in America’s interest and security, and we will not turn our back on that, nor will we rest until those responsible for these attacks are found and brought to justice. We are working closely with the Libyan authorities to move swiftly and surely."

In an Oct. 23, 2011 statement marking the "liberation" of Libya, Clinton called the U.S.-assisted revolution "the work of ordinary, brave Libyans who demanded their freedoms and dignity. The United States is proud to have supported them in those efforts, and we are committed to their future."

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