Here's a Timeline of the Confusing Statements on Libya and Egypt
Updated 3:53 p.m.
If you weren't following this story closely as it developed over the past day and woke to news of the murder of the U.S. Ambassador to Libya and a group of swirling charges around the U.S. response to September 11 protests against the U.S. Embassy in Cairo and the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, here's who said what and when (all times are Eastern Standard):
7/1/12. Self-described California real-estate developer and self-described Israeli Jew Sam Bacile releases a 13-minute trailer for "The Real Life of Muhammad," an amateurishly produced anti-Islam movie allegedly made with donations from 100 Jews. (Serious questions have been raised about details of Bacile's identity as he has described it to reporters, as well as whether there is any full length film at all.)
9/9/12. The Grand Mufti of Egypt, Ali Gomaa, condemns the film, word of which has reached Cairo, pointing a finger at "the actions undertaken by some extremist Copts who made a film offensive to the Prophet." Coptic Christians are the largest religious minority in Egypt, and American Coptic activist Morris Sadek was involved in promoting the film, which shows Christians being attacked by Muslims. "The attack on religious sanctities does not fall under this freedom," he said of freedom of speech, according to reports in English-language Arab media outlets.
9/10/12. Florida Rev. Terry Jones releases a YouTube announcing he'll screen Bacile's anti-Islam trailer as part of turning the anniversary of the terrorist attacks on America into "International Judge Mohammad 'Mo' Day."
In June, Jones hanged Obama in effigy at his Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, Florida, leading to a Secret Service investigation. He's best known for his threat to burn Korans to mark the Sept. 11 anniversary, which sparked protests in Afghanistan in 2010 and led Gen. David Petraeus to warn ABC News that Jones's plan could "endanger troops and it could endanger the overall effort here," and then burning a Koran in 2011, leading to riots in Afghanistan.
5:53 a.m., 9/11/12. Shortly before noon local time, @USEmbassyCairo tweets: "Respect for religious beliefs is a cornerstone of American democracy," according to a screenshot captured by @NYCSouthpaw.
6:11 a.m., 9/11/12. @USEmbassyCairo tweets: "US Embassy condemns religious incitement" with a link to a statement, according to another @NYCSouthpaw screenshot. The statement "U.S. Embassy Condemns Religious Incitement" was posted on the Embassy of the United States Cairo, Egypt website in response to Egyptian media accounts of the film, though without a specific time-stamp:
The Embassy of the United States in Cairo condemns the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims -- as we condemn efforts to offend believers of all religions. Today, the 11th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States, Americans are honoring our patriots and those who serve our nation as the fitting response to the enemies of democracy. 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.
Selected sentences from the statement were also tweeted out by embassy staff.
11 a.m. 9/11/12. At 5 p.m. local time in Cairo, demonstrators begin to assemble outside the U.S. Embassy. According to an Egyptian newspaper, "Roughly 2000 Salafist activists answered a call on Tuesday by Wesam Abdel-Wareth, a Salafist leader and president of Egypt's Hekma television channel, to protest 'Muhammad's Trial' - a US-made film which, critics say, insults Islam's Prophet Mohammed - at 5pm in front of the US embassy in Cairo." (h/t Matt Vasilogambros) According to the New York Times:
In Cairo, thousands of unarmed protesters had gathered outside the American embassy during the day. By nightfall, some had climbed over the wall around the embassy compound and destroyed a flag hanging inside. The vandals replaced it with a black flag favored by ultraconservatives and militants and labeled with the most basic Islamic profession of faith: "There is no god but God, and Muhammad is his prophet." Embassy guards fired guns into the air, but a large contingent of Egyptian riot police officers on hand to protect the embassy evidently did not use their weapons against the crowd, and the protest continued, largely without violence, into the night.
4:47 p.m., 9/11/12. @USEmbassyCairo tweets: "As Spokesperson Nuland said, protestors breached our wall and took down flag. Thanks for your concern and kind wishes."
5:58-59 p.m., 9/11/12. @USEmbassyCairo tweets in three parts: "1) Thank you for your thoughts and prayers. 2) Of course we condemn breaches of our compound, we're the ones actually living through this. 3) Sorry, but neither breaches of our compound or angry messages will dissuade us from defending freedom of speech AND criticizing bigotry."
6 p.m., 9/11/12. Stand Up America Now begins a livestream of Jones' anti-Muslim presentation online.
6:30 p.m., 9/11/12. @USEmbassyCairo tweets: "This morning's condemnation (issued before protests began) still stands. As does condemnation of unjustified breach of the Embassy." This tweet is later deleted.
7:51 p.m., 9/11/12. Reuters, citing Libyan government sources, reports "An American staff member of the U.S. consulate in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi has died following fierce clashes at the compound."
10:09 p.m., 9/11/12. The Romney campaign releases a statement "embargoed until midnight tonight" from Mitt Romney condemning the administration and the attacks: "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." The U.S. Embassy statement from Cairo was issued before the attack in Libya.
10:10 p.m. 9/11/12 Politico cites an unnamed administration official saying, "The statement by Embassy Cairo was not cleared by Washington and does not reflect the views of the United States government."
10:25 p.m., 9/11/12.The Romney campaign lifts the embargo on its statement, which now comes on a day historically seen as a time to refrain from the most pointed forms of political combat, in honor of those who died.
10:38-39 p.m., 9/11/12. @StateDept tweets: " #SecClinton: I condemn in the strongest terms the attack on our mission in Benghazi today. http://state.gov #Libya" and "#SecClinton: We have confirmed one @StateDept officer was killed in #Libya. We are heartbroken by this terrible loss." Hillary Clinton issues a statement, saying, "I condemn in the strongest terms the attack on our mission in Benghazi today. As we work to secure our personnel and facilities, we have confirmed that one of our State Department officers was killed. We are heartbroken by this terrible loss. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and those who have suffered in this attack." She adds: "Some have sought to justify this vicious behavior as a response to inflammatory material posted on the Internet. The United States deplores any intentional effort to denigrate the religious beliefs of others. Our commitment to religious tolerance goes back to the very beginning of our nation. But let me be clear: There is never any justification for violent acts of this kind."
11:51 p.m., 9/11/12. BuzzFeed reports that the U.S. Embassy in Cairo has deleted its earlier tweets of the statement that remains on the embassy website.
12:01 am, 9/12/12.: The chairman of the Republican National Committee waits until one minute after the end of the anniversary of the 2001 terrorist attacks, then tweets:
Obama sympathizes with attackers in Egypt.Sad and pathetic.— Reince Priebus (@Reince) September 12, 2012
12:09 a.m., 9/12/12. Obama spokesman Ben LaBolt emails reporters a response to Romney's statement: "We are shocked that, at a time when the United States of America is confronting the tragic death of one of our diplomatic officers in Libya, Governor Romney would choose to launch a political attack."
7:21 a.m., 9/12/12. President Obama condemns the attacks in Libya, confirming that the U.S. ambassador was slain:
I strongly condemn the outrageous attack on our diplomatic facility in Benghazi, which took the lives of four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens. Right now, the American people have the families of those we lost in our thoughts and prayers. They exemplified America's commitment to freedom, justice, and partnership with nations and people around the globe, and stand in stark contrast to those who callously took their lives.
I have directed my Administration to provide all necessary resources to support the security of our personnel in Libya, and to increase security at our diplomatic posts around the globe. While the United States rejects efforts to denigrate the religious beliefs of others, we must all unequivocally oppose the kind of senseless violence that took the lives of these public servants.
On a personal note, Chris was a courageous and exemplary representative of the United States. Throughout the Libyan revolution, he selflessly served our country and the Libyan people at our mission in Benghazi. As Ambassador in Tripoli, he has supported Libya's transition to democracy. His legacy will endure wherever human beings reach for liberty and justice. I am profoundly grateful for his service to my Administration, and deeply saddened by this loss.
The brave Americans we lost represent the extraordinary service and sacrifices that our civilians make every day around the globe. As we stand united with their families, let us now redouble our own efforts to carry their work forward.
9:57-10:05 a.m., 9/12/12. Saying "our hearts break" over each State Department loss, Hillary Clinton said in remarks at the department, "We condemn in the strongest terms this senseless act of violence." "Because of this tragedy we have new heroes to honor and more friends to mourn," she said, later asking the question that will be on many minds today: "How could this happen in a country we helped liberate, in a city we helped save from destruction?" It was, she said, "confounding." But we must be "clear-eyed in our grief," she said: "This was an attack by a small and savage group, not the people or government of Libya." Defending the American traditions of religious tolerance and free speech, she added: "Let me be clear: There is no justification for this. None." Full Clinton statement.
10:16, 9/12/12. Mitt Romney speaks from Jacksonville, Florida, calling the attacks in Libya "outrageous and disgusting" but doubling down on his criticism of the Obama administration for the U.S. Embassy to Egypt statement, saying it "sent mixed messages to the world." "I think it's a terrible course for America to stand in apology for our values," Romney said. Full Romney remarks.
9/12/12. Obama speaks from Washington, D.C., with Secretary Clinton by his side. "The United States condemns in the strongest terms this outrageous and shocking attack," Obama said. "We're working with the government of Libya to secure our diplomats. I've also directed my administration to increase our security at diplomatic posts around the world. And make no mistake, we will work with the Libyan government to bring to justice the killers who attacked our people." He affirmed that, "Since our founding, the United States has been a nation that respects all faiths. We reject all efforts to denigrate the religious beliefs of others." And he echoed Clinton's remarks, saying, "There is absolutely no justification for this type of senseless violence. None."