tv Early Start CNN September 12, 2012 5:00am-7:00am EDT
that's it for us. thank you for watching. "early start" begins now. u.s. diplomatic compounds targeted in two muslim countries. a state department worker killed. the u.s. flag torn down. no deal in chicago. striking teachers and a school board still miles apart in talks leaving kids out of school now for a third day. and the wait is almost over. apple is just hours away from unveiling the new iphone 5. good morning, welcome to "early
start." i'm christie romans in this morning. >> we are happy to have you. i'm zoraida sambolin. it's 5:00 a.m. in the east. let's get started. we begin with the attacks against two u.s. diplomatic compounds overseas. first libya where militants staged a protest outside the u.s. consulate in ben za lee leading to clashes with security forces and the death of a security department officer. the other powder keg is in cairo where several men managed to scale the walls of the u.s. embassy. take a look at this. they tore down all the american flags. ian lee is live from cairo this morning. i want to start with what has caused all this outrage. >> reporter: well, zoraida, it focuses around a film. and the film is very amateurish. it's a mishmash of clips. it is really incoherent, i have
watched the clip, but it has a lot of things the muslims would find offensive about their prophet. so this is what sparked the clashes that we saw last night when thousands of people gathered outside the u.s. embassy where a handful of protesters actually breached the embassy compound, tore down the american flag like you just saw and ripped it apart. and these protesters are also calling for more protests against the u.s. embassy. a question we are wondering is where were the security services? the embassy issued a statement well before the demonstrations warning citizens not to go near the u.s. embassy. egyptian intelligence also warned that there could be large protests at the embassy. the security forces eventually did arrive and this morning i walked by the embassy to check out the scene and there were riot police in front of the embassy as well as military, but the question now officials are wondering why it took so long to secure the embassy when the
protesters first arrived, zoraida. >> and are there still protesters on site? can you see that or have they all been cleared away? >> reporter: well, it's not clear whether the protesters were cleared away or they just went home. there were a dozen or so protesters milling around outside the embassy, but there are calls for continued sustained protests to go out against this video. >> ian, there was also a protest that turned deadly in libya. what can you tell us about that? >> reporter: well, witnesses are telling us that a group of radical -- a radical islamist group were the ones at the compound, the u.s. compound during the time of the attack. the u.s. state department official was killed during that attack. hillary clinton came out condemning the attack saying that she's also working with diplomatic missions around the
world to ensure their security. the libyan government also came out condemning the attack saying that they are going to investigate the matter. >> all right. ian lee live in cairo this morning. thank you very much. all right. in chicago many parents now losing money and patience. it's back to the bargaining table in chicago. there's no deal yet to resolve the teacher strike. this strike now entering day three with the teachers union now saying there's a considerable way to go before there's a deal. casey wyan is at the chicago public school headquarters. casey, what's the latest? >> reporter: the latest, christine, is that the two sides are talking or will be talking again beginning at 11:00 this morning. the chicago public schools negotiators say they presented what they call a comprehensive proposal, a new comprehensive proposal addressing all of the issues at stake here to the union yesterday and what they
have requested is either a written response from the union this morning or some sort of a comprehensive counter proposal. the union says, however, that the two sides remain miles apart even though the school district says that a deal is within reach. now, there's good news for parents in the fact that these school sites that the district has made available as sort of temporary childcare facilities for four hours in the morning while the strike has been going on, they will start being open for six hours beginning tomorrow, from 8:30 to 2:30. and they have the capacity for about 150,000 students. about 40% of the students affected by this strike. that's the good news from there. the bad news is that it appears the school district is appearing for a prolonged strike. >> preparing for a prolonged strike. and the union you say did not give a counter proposal or
counter points to the city's proposal. any movement on the two sticking points at the heart of this, teacher evaluations and a provision about jobs for laid off teachers? >> reporter: well, there's been a little movement on both fronts. the jobs provision, giving the principals the authority to decide which teachers are rehired after teeners have been laid off when schools are closed. that's something the union is not legally allowed to strike over but there still has been some movement by the school district to allow 500 teachers to get their jobs back. the other contentious issue is the teacher evaluation proposal that would rely partially on standardized testing scores. the union still says that even though there's been movement on that issue, that 28% of its members would be in danger of losing their jobs within two years if that plan goes forward. here's what chicago mayor rahm emanuel had to say about that union claim.
>> it's about ensuring that over a period of time we have a way to raise the quality of the teachers and we have excellent teachers in our schools, they do a great job, they work under very difficult circumstances, but it's mandated, we have to do this, federal and state, we are doing it and it is whether it has rigor. i believe the teachers will pass, as i said yesterday. this was designed by 2,000 teachers over the last year. it was designed by teachers for teachers to take. >> reporter: now late yesterday u.s. education secretary arne duncan who used to be head of chicago public schools released a written statement urging the two sides to bargain and come together for some sort of a deal. but a lot of folks here think it's going to take his boss, president obama, to actually step in and get this deal done. i don't know if that's going to
happen any time soon. >> and it's the law, they have to -- it is federal and state law, rahm emanuel is right about that, that they have to evaluate teachers. has the union put forth an alternative way to evaluate teachers or they just don't like this way? >> reporter: they say they have. but it is not acceptable to the school district. what clearly these teachers are upset about is the standardized testing. their claim is that when a teacher works in a low-income area where test scores are lower, that teacher has unfair -- it is not fair in terms of the way they are evaluated. >> casey wian in chicago, we'll check with you next hour. >> arne duncan is the former ceo of the chicago public schools so he's intimately familiar with this particular fight. >> those who argue if you're in a low-income neighborhood, you have to show improvement on the child. so it is based on what you're working. if you are showing improvement or keeping the child in and engaged, that can show up on the teacher evaluation, too. >> they are implementing some
really new innovative programs there to try to address those issues. we'll see how it works out. at the end of the day, the kids and families are suffering greatly here, as are the teeners. eight minutes past the hour, israel's prime minister is state your naming the screws on the white house to crack down on iran. benjamin netanyahu is criticizing president obama with the way it's dealing with the nuclear program. the white house wants to deliver an ultimatum to deliver a military strike. >> the world tells israel, wait, there's still time. and i say, wait for what? wait until when? those in the international community who refuse to put red lines before iran don't have a moral right to place a red light before israel. >> the white house says
netanyahu and president obama spoke by phone last night to hammer out their differences. the obama administration also trying to downplay reports that it snubbed a request by netanyahu to meet with president obama later this month at the opening session of the u.n. general assembly in new york city. and another warning about the fiscal cliff. this one from moodys threatening to follow in the footsteps of downgrading the government's aaa rating if congress doesn't deal with the debt problem. the trouble is lawmakers are not at all sure they can strike a deal and avoid going over. >> well, i'm not confident at all. listen, the house has done its job on both the sequester and on the looming tax hike that is will cost our economy some 700,000 jobs. the senate at some point has to act. on both of these, where's the president? >> i was disappointed when my friend john boehner said today that he has no confidence on a
budget deal. i think we have to look at the glass being half full not half empty all the time. >> deja vu, right? the so-called fiscal cliff is the combination of federal cuts to federal programs scheduled to take effect in january and tax increases on all the bush era tax cuts at the end of this year. hot pursuit in miami ending in a spectacular air-born spinning wreck. the suspects taking off from their car after it came to a stop along an exit ramp on i-95, but they didn't get very far. all three suspects were arrested wanted for burglary. the chase reached speeds of 100 miles an hour. >> i hope no one else was injured there as you saw another car spin there. today is the day for the big reveal. everyone is talking about it. apple officially unveiling the iphone 5 just a few hours from now. a look at what is in the store coming up. i tried weight loss plans...
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welcome back to "early start." in a few hours apple is expected to unveil the next big thing, the iphone 5. and there's plenty of speculation about just what the newest smart phone will offer. anticipation for the apple launch is building, to say the least. cnn's dan simon is live in san francisco for us this morning. dan, i mean, i'm told maybe the case is going to be different, there's going to be a bigger screen, what kind of teaches might we expect? >> reporter: well, good morning. we'll talk about those in a second, but first of all, let me just say, here we go again. i've been coming to this thing since 2007 for the first iphone. and i don't think the buzz has ever been this intense for iphone 5. this is expected to be the biggest selling smart phone of all time smattering all previous records set by apple. now just for a little context, when we were here a year ago, the initial reception for the last iphone, the 4s, there was a
little bit of disappointment. there was a lukewarm reception because it was sort of a modest upgrade, sort of a speck bum, but that doesn't matter given the sales. the new iphone 5 is expected to sport a whole new design. you talked about a larger screen, a larger four-inch diagonal screen, larger than the previous versions. 4g lte compatible. it will run on the faster cellular networks. a new dock connector. in general, a phone that's thinner, faster and lighter. a headphone jack that's moved to the bottom as well as newly-designed apple headphones. so, christine, the question becomes, might there be some other features that are not on that list and could there be some other products coming out today? that's what we have to wait for. >> the industry has changed so much in the last few years. this is the sixth version for apple, but other companies have hundreds of smart phones.
they have sort of reinvented the industry, haven't they? >> reporter: no question about it. the bar has been raised. everybody's doing these touch-screen phones now. that's one of the reasons why you saw apple take on samsung with this lawsuit. you know, the competition is very fierce. the stakes are very high for all of these companies. so the question is, can apple sustain its momentum? and most analysts believe that they actually can. that's why you're seeing that stock price remain where it is and why the company is now the most valuable company on the planet. and, again, this is going to be the biggest selling smart phone of all time. according to the analysts, it could sell 5.5 million units in the first three days, which would just be absolutely unheard of. >> like jpmorgan is saying, it could add to american gdp in consumer product entity, unbelievable. dan simon, have fun this morning. it is 17 minutes past the hour. let's get you up-to-date on this
morning's top stories. two u.s. diplomatic compounds are under siege in libya where a state department officer was killed during a violent clash between militant protesters and security forces near the u.s. consulate in benghazi. and in cairo several men scaled the walls of the embassy and managed to tear down the flag. the anti-u.s. sentiment fueled by an amateur online film produced in america that millions of muslims consider offensive to islam. back to the bargaining table for teachers after taking to the streets of chicago. there's no deal yet to resolve the teacher strike. talks entering day three with neither side expressing optimism that an agreement is near. chicago mayor rahm emanuel says two sticking points remain, teacher evaluations and how to handle jobs for laid off teachers. part of president obama's approval rating has cracked the 50% barrier. take a look at the latest cnn/orc survey. the president's approval rating at 51% up three points from last
week's cnn poll, which was conducted before the democratic national convention. when voters were asked who has the advantage in next month's debate, 59% picked the president. 34% went with romney. it is 19 minutes past the hour. the early read in your local news making national head lines, we'll start with a story in "the l.a. times." city officials are reviewing a proposal to let undocumented workers use library cards as i.d. the program would help about 300,000 in the country illegally who are not able to get bank accounts or a driver's license. >> the criticism here is that the undocumented would then stay in the united states. so some people not liking this. a single mother of 4 losing big time against the big-time record labels in the minneapolis "star tribune." an appeals court reinstating a
jury's decision to level. listen to this, a $222,000 judgment against jamie thomas rassett. the court reduced damages to $54,000. the recording industry accused her of illegally downloading more than 1700 files. all right, while you were sleeping a decision made thousands of miles away that will have a dramatic affect on the world economy and your stock portfolio. yeah, a court across the world that holds the global economy in its hands. the story coming up. [ female announcer ] caroline penry began using olay total effects in 2001. since then, there's been one wedding, 2 kids, and 43 bottles of olay total effects.
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23 minutes past the hour. welcome back to "early start." issues 2012 now, cnn going in-depth to the economic issues facing this country. and today a big decision in germany that could affect the u.s. the ruling that has u.s. stock futures up and european markets are up sharply right now as well. christine, tell us about that ruling. >> so this is a german high court, a big court that was looking into the legality of germany being involved in the european stability economic market, the esm. they ruled that the current bailout plan is constitutional.
this is so key. imagine if this high court in germany decided, german taxpayers have too much exposure to the bailout in europe and we are going to say it is illegal for gemny to participate anymore. it would be disastrous. germany is a leader in trying to figure out how to get out of the debt crisis. there's a catch here for germany. germany's financial exposure to the fund must be approved by the germany parliament so they are putting strings on it. the esm is incredibly important, that's all the rescue efforts for europe and for its debt crisis. and a german court was deciding whether or not it would be illegal to participate to this level. why is this so important? you're not hearing anything about europe on the campaign trail. and i'll tell you why. because whoever is going to be the next president is going to be watching very closely as other people have a very big say in the future of the american economy. here's why. the european union in the u.s. is the number one trading
partner. we have a trillion-plus direct investments in the e. nuchlt. $2.7 trillion in financial commitments. it is remarkable the close ties between these two. and most of the countries in europe are in a recession, some in a double-dip recession. this german court ruling critical on the eu and its bailout. that's why futures and stocks are at this point because this potential legal hurdle has been crossed. thank you. 26 minutes past the hour. the water came without warning. coming up, whole neighborhoods swamped after a dike holding back a rain-swollen pond bursts. . everyone tells a little white lie now and then. but now she wants my recipe [ clears his throat ] [ softly ] she's right behind me isn't she? [ male announcer ] progresso. you gotta taste this soup.
fury in the muslim world. security beefed up around the world this morning after mobs attack two u.s. compounds. his first word said facebook stock flopped. mark zuckerberg says the future is mobile but can he deliver? and apple expected to unveil the new iphone in just a few hours and make your old one uncool in an instant. if you buy into all the hype, right? which iphone lovers do. i'm zoraida sambolin. >> i'm christine romans. late last night secretary of state hillary clinton confirming that a state department official at the u.s. consulate was killed during an angry protest in bengha benghazi, libya.
the protests are over a web video protesters called anti-muslim. a similar scene in egypt where protesters tore down the u.s. embassy's flag after protesting all day in cairo. this comes as protesters continue to stand right outside of the embassy walls under watch from egyptian security forces. those protesters so say the web video is why they are protesting. we have a journalist on the phone from cairo who has been with us over the past year following the arab spring and now the slow, steady steps toward democracy. welcome to the program. tell me a little bit about what you know is happening there in cairo and what sparked all this. >> reporter: hi, good morning. what sparked it was several days of clips of this film being shown on some tv stations in egypt and calls by the ultraconservatives to go and protest outside the u.s. embassy. but i just want to make it very clear that the calls were made by an ultra right-wing fringe
group that don't represent the majority of egyptians. just because the majority aren't represented here, freedom of speech is expected to be respected. but the question many of us have here is why did they choose the u.s. embassy? this film has nothing to do with the u.s. administration. so it is very important not to be dragged into a dangerous situation by fringe elements on either side. >> and it is quite amateurish and clearly not any kind of a professional documentary or anything. it does show, however, that sometimes the freedom of speech or the freedom of expression can be overrun by, quite frankly, the desire to keep holy -- anti-islam is very dangerous. >> reporter: the point you make about the film as is also the point that many people demonstrating have not even seen the film.
i compare the situation to that in 2006 when we saw protests erupt in many countries over the danish cartoons, but several months after the danish cartoons that depicted prophet mo hmm mad in what some say an insulting way were published, it is important to note there's a political motivation at play. this outrage to use people's anger to make a political point. now what concerns many egyptians as well is that our president and the prime minister were very silent yesterday, which is very dangerous again. because we must not allow the right-wing fringe element in egypt to set the agenda. we had a resolution last year, which was for social justice and liberty, and that resolution would not be derailed by the right-wing extremists on either side. >> all right.
mona eltahawy, thank you very much. 33 minutes past the hour. muddy water unleashed on a utah town after a dike breaks free. homes, schools and businesses near a retention pond in southern utah were forced to evacuate. that break sent floodwaters surging through residential streets there. 30 homes and businesses in santa clara were damaged. steady heavy rain saturated the ground and overwhelmed the dike. that's messy. and more than 100 people have died in a garment factory fire in pakistan overnight. authorities say all the victims including a child were factory employees. dozens of people may still be trapped in the basement of that building as well and officials still don't know what caused the fire. all right. 34 minutes past the hour, now that the 9/11 remembrances have passed, we expect the president and his republican challenger to resume the bashing. president obama campaigns this afternoon at a rally in las vegas.
his seventh visit to nevada this year. and mitt romney is in the battleground of florida holding a rally in jacksonville after attending a fund-raiser. facebook's ceo mark zuckerberg is speaking out for the first time since taking the social network public. he addressed concerns about facebook's freefalling stock and the company's long-term future. >> you know, the performance of the stock has obviously been disappointing, right? and we care about our shareholders and the commitment that we made is that we are going to execute this mission of making the world more open and connected. and we are going to do the things we think are going to build value over the long-term. >> zuckerberg also says a top priority for facebook going forward is its mobile strategy. all right. that drawer with all your old gadgets about to welcome a new addition. apple is expected to officially unveil the iphone 5 in a few hours. will the phone be slimmer or
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we have been telling you about the violence against u.s. facilities overseas in cairo and benghazi. according to reuters and afp, america's ambassador to libya has been killed in this violence. his name is chris stevens. this is reporting from reuters and afp. we are working with our folks to confirm it but ambassador chris stevens who just came into the post in may, he was brought into the post in tripoli in may killed yesterday in those attacks on our facilities in benghazi. the state department confirmed last night the death of the state department official. at the time last night secretary of state hillary clinton said our thoughts and prayers are with his family. now reuters and afp say it is
indeed the american ambassador to libya who perished in that attack on our embassy. >> and his name is john christopher stevens born in northern california in 1960. he came to libya for a second time in april of 2011 arriving on a cargo ship. the u.s. government sent him to rebel headquarters to serve as a special representative to the libyan national transitional council there. and all the violence really escalated and stemmed from the anti-muslim movie created in america and circulated on facebook. and there was a call to action to go to the u.s. embassy in cairo and to protest. that is precisely what happened when the protest got violent. we heard yesterday that an american was killed in libya and this is who the american turned out to be. >> he has a long history, can i not member a sitting ambassador being killed. so this is obviously something -- there is security
in all the facilities that is very serious. what it pretends for the safety of the americans around the world most immediately in egypt and in libya, but this man had a long history in the region. he was a pear corps volunteer in morocco with previous overseas assignments and knows the region very, very well. again, we have known that there was a state department death or official killed late yesterday. we didn't know who. and now it is reuters and afp reporting that as the american ambassador to libya, it was chris stevens who died in the attack. >> it was he and three staffers killed in benghazi. we just talked to a reporter not long ago in cairo who said there was a lot of violence but this is not the way that all the egyptians feel. and at the end of the day she wanted americans, in particular, to understand that this was not a call to action for all egyptians but it really is a specific group of people that
engage in this type of violence. >> i want to bring in mona, the journalist in the region, cairo right now, in particular. there are two different situations here, there's libya and the consulate in benghazi where this particular attack happened. then there's cairo with the burning of the american flag, a little different tone and tenor, two different situations stemming from, we believe, the same movie, it was sort of a homemade video that really has sparked a lot of violence among the right-wing groups. tell us a little bit about that. >> reporter: yeah, exactly. this is a film that most people have not seen. i cannot emphasize that enough. it is more about political manipulation about outrage, it is about manufactured outrage and a right-wing fringe element trying to assert itself as a time when we have a president who himself used to be on the
ring wing in egypt but is now trying to be more center. when you look at the libyan situation, you're also talking about a group that is trying to assert itself at a time when lib washington is trying to move on with its resolution. so this is a very, very exceptional and tense moment for those countries. >> mona, reuters is reporting that the u.s. ambassador and staffers were killed in a rocket attack. that takes it to a different protest than what you are seeing in cairo. an attack that targeted his car in benghazi. cnn is trying to confirm that, but that's the reuters reporting that and the afp is reporting it is the libyan american ambassador ambassador that has been killed. what do we know about groups targeting american officials at this point? that implies a slightly greater level of sophistication than what you're seeing in cairo.
>> reporter: absolutely. the situation in cairo was unarmed people. i didn't hear of anyone in egypt yielding weapons. most we hear is people scaling the u.s. embassy compound. what happened in libya speaks more to the situation of the availability of weapons to various groups there since the resolution began and ended with the death of gadhafi and the handover of power to new government. what happened in libya is absolutely outrageous and i'm hearing from many libyan who is are very saddened by the death of the u.s. ambassador and embassy staff and say this is not what our resolution was about. in fact, this is worse, this is an insult to the resolution and an insult to the very topic of islam that people are trying to defend here. >> a distinction that extremists don't make, mona, right? >> reporter: no, absolutely. what the exteamists extremists
plan to do is they speak for millions of muslims around the world. they do not speak for the majority of egyptians and libyans. i cannot emphasize enough to the viewers that the people responsible for the attack in libya and the people responsible for the protest in egypt belong to a fringe minority on the right wing who do not represent the majority of people in egypt and libya. >> stick with us, mona, this is still developing. we want you to give us your perspective, but we are going to move on quickly. >> elise is standing by, what can you tell us? these are late-breaking details, but what can you tell us? >> reporter: zoraida, reports are coming out of libya, the state department and the obama administration as a whole really mum many sources of meetings right now. they don't want to speculate on whether it is true. obviously a lot of reports that it is, but even if the embassy consulate was working to restore the compound even as they reported the death of one u.s.
official and didn't mention that person's name, they were still trying to secure the compound. so they thought everything was going to be okay, even several sources telling me last night that the immediate danger was gone. but certainly it doesn't look that way this morning. >> tell us a little bit, so you have the compound in benghazi that comes under attack as there's sort of this wave of anger about this homemade video. it comes you should attack by gunfire. presumably they would try to, and i don't want to speculate, but you would think they would move them to a safer location. tell us a little bit about the american facilities in libya that you know. >> reporter: well, i've been in tripoli, libya. i have not been in benghazi. when i was there last chris stevens was the head of the mission in libya. and they were fortified facilities. now, the reports coming out of libya is that he died of smoke
inhalation. it seems as if last night that the building itself was secured and perhaps some of these people have made it to the building and as the reports say set it on fire. but the first thing in any u.s. mission is to secure the actual facilities where these people are. sometimes if the compound isn't necessarily safe, you have u.s. marines on the ground and u.s. diplomatic security on the ground. and the first role is to secure that facility. so it doesn't look as if, you know, again from these reports, because we are speculating right now that the people were shot, that gunmen were able to get to them, but as we said, the first thing is to secure that facility. and it seems that right now that maybe it was smoke inhalation. >> the reuters report was it was a rocket attack on a car. we don't know the details and the state department will have to give us the final say on exactly what happened. you say you knew him or he was there when you were in libya. what's his reputation?
>> reporter: i have known chris stevens for ten years. he's considered one of the top, really top diplomats of the state department, really a middle east hand that has been all around the region, really sought by people as someone who really knew the region, spoke arabic fluently. and he was in libya several years ago as the head of the u.s. embassy to libya. as the u.s. was trying to regain its footing with the regime of moammar gadhafi, he was there trying to rebuild both political and economic ties, but really touched the libyan people. he used to speak so fondly of the libyan people there. and then when all this happened he was hired, when everything happened with the conflict in libya, he was hired as the special envoy because he has so many contacts on the ground, he was seen as being so effective in helping to gape the trust of
the libyans with the united states. so when moammar gadhafi's regime was over and talking about putting an ambassador there, he was the only choice. i was at the swearing in and there for several parties for him. he was excited to get back to the country he loved so much. >> do you know anything personal about him? we know he was born in california in 1960. anything about his family? >> reporter: born in california, really had a lot of ties to the northern california area. in fact, we used to both talk about wanting to retire there. single, in his 50s. i met his parents, really lovely people. and so proud of him as he was getting on. he was really known as one of the shining stars and very popular in the u.s. for his service. and everyone really liked him. he was just really a nice person, really caring about you. if something happened to you, when my father died earlier this
year, he gave me a call. so really trying to reach out to everybody. really known as one of the most popular people of the state department. >> elise, you cover the state department and have known the ambassador for some ten years, to have this -- this is obviously a tragedy. we are still awaiting confirmation from the state department from the administration about exactly what happened here and the names and the identities of the people who were killed, but to have personnel killed in an attack like this, i mean, tell me what happens next in the state department standpoint. at some point they have to come out to confirm this to give us more details. >> reporter: again, we don't want to suspect what happened, but if these reports are true and the fact that everybody is kind of undercover right now, it may suggest they are, but the first thing is to secure not only the facilities in libya but also the facilities under diplomatic personnel of the middle east at large. you saw the secretary of state's statement earlier this morning
emphasizing that point, not only was the u.s. working to secure the compound in benghazi but also the facilities around the world. as we saw what happened in cairo yesterday, a lot of anti-american sentiment and a lot of anti-american sentiment during this whole resolution. the whole arab spring, it was obviously not about the united states, but even though the united states tried to help out where it thought it could, certainly it is not on the winning end of this and seems to be very unpopular. right now they are trying to secure the facilities and i think there's going to be a lot of sadness in the state department. it is not all going to be -- once in a while you hear about a foreign officer killed and there's a ceremony at the state department and everyone speaks about that, but not to make light of any particular person, but it is usually one or two people, someone killed in action, sometimes a contractor,
sometimes someone so well-known by so many people in the united states m the state department and around the world, i think there's going to be a lot of shock today in the state department as they try to make sense of what went wrong on the u.s. really working to help build the libyan country as it got off its feet. and he was one of the early people of recognizing the opposition. and speaking of right now, the whole resolution. they thought they were helping the democratic movements. we have seen an islamic movement sweeping into power, and obviously in some cases we don't want to stereo type about the generality of the islamist movement, but they are not that different than the united states. obviously some of them are violent, but there's a lot of thought about syria right now, who can we trust? who can we represent? who can we help because there's a lot of uncertainty in syria right now about islamic movements. and i think something like this is really going to make people,
unfortunately, only think twice about doing anything further in syria. >> elise, we'll check with you in a moment. i want to reset for the viewers in the united states and around the world who are joining us what's happening here. reuters and afp are reporting that america's ambassador to libya has been killed in that violence we have been telling you about in benghazi at the consulate. it is unclear exactly how it happened. reuters say it was a rocket attack on his car and there were three other department personnel killed. we do know there was a fatality with the state department confirming that last night telling us a state department official perished in the benghazi u.s. consulate. now reuters and afp say it was the american ambassador to libya, chris stevens. someone who took the post in may. someone who is a long libya middle east hand. elise from the state department saying she's known him for ten years. knows him and his parents, and he's a career member of the senior foreign service. he was appointed by president
obama and arrived in tripoli in may 2012 to serve as ambassador to the new libya, the new post-arab spring libya. he was a special representative to the libyan national transitional council during the libyan resolution, someone with a great deal of respect and experience in the region. reuters and afp reporting the american ambassador has been killed in the violence against the u.s. consulate. >> we are waiting for the state department to confirm the details. in the meantime, we have a cnn reporter who is live in tripoli, libya, for us this morning. what can you tell us? >> reporter: the u.s. embassy in tripoli has been very tight-lipped. they are not confirming these reports at this point. like you mentioned, news agencies were reporting that ambassador chris stevens was killed in that attack in benghazi. libyan officials to the foreign ministry here are also not confirming this news yet, but we
are hearing from the libyan government that they will be holding a press conference in about one hour with the prime minister and the speaker of the libyan parliament. this absolutely is not going to look good for the new libya, especially as it is trying to bring back foreign interest and foreign businesses into the country, its inability to protect such missions like the u.s. consulate in benghazi as it was attacked, again, back in june when a bomb exploded right outside the consulate. and there have been a series of attacks claimed by islamic extremists in that area, in eastern libya. one targeting the british ambassador, his convoy was hit just a couple months ago. so this entity to protect muslim interest here does not reflect well, but many libyans here are
condemning the attack. regular people and top officials are issuing statements condemning this violence saying that this is a small group, a minority group, and this is not the way libyans feel about the united states and those who helped them last year in the resolution to oust moammar gadhafi. >> we are talking about this as we are also talking about what happened in cairo overnight. is there any connection between these two? >> reporter: at this point there has been no clear connection between them. the group that starts it, this demonstration outside the u.s. embassy yesterday, is a radical militant group. they are heavily armed. they are operational in the eastern part of the country. we have seen them taking to the streets of benghazi with heavy weaponry in the pascaling for islamic sharia law in libya and
establishing this as they are anti-western. it is not clear if this was coordinating in think way, but from speaking to the eyewitness who was by the cons late yesterday, they said they were told to protest against this film. they said that they had no intention of turning it violent because they showed up in a peaceful demonstration. and libyan security forces were opening fire on them and that made them go back to get their weapons and engage in hours of intense serious clashes with the security forces. >> let's talk a little bit about the film, jomana, because you laid out attempted attacks on western interests there. and then there's this film, this, i think calling it a film is giving it too much credit, it is more like a home ahead video
insulting to islam. was that just, i guess, the fuel to an already crackling fire? >> reporter: it does seem so. it does seem like some people were saying that maybe many libyans i spoke to last night said the people who went out to protest outside the embassy had not even seen this video, but they had heard of it and decided to go out and protest. again, these are small groups, these are minority groups, but they are strong. they are powerful. and they have been able to carry out attacks like this. libya is a country with weapons. they have not been able to collect the weapons and disarm the hundreds of militias across the country. so this really underscores the security situation here while it seems to be relatively safe, you see attacks like this that really have the risk of
destabilizing the country and sending a message to the west that libya is not the country that they hoped would emerge from this resolution. >> quickly, that's reuters and afp reporting that the american ambassador to libya killed in the u.s. consulate in benghazi. and now cnn has more contacts to this, a greek contractor with the u.s. mission in benghazi, that facility attacked yesterday, this greek contractor with mission is telling cnn he identified the body of the u.s. ambassador to libya this morning in a benghazi street. this contractor does not want to be identified by name for fear for his safety, but he knew the ambassador, christopher stevens, he knows who he is and identified the body. that's coming into cnn, that's the detail we can give you from the afp and reuters reports. >> we want to welcome viewers from around the state and the world this morning as we share this news with you. one of the things we have been talking about, in particular, is whether or not there was this
correlation between what is happening in cairo, what happened overnight in cairo and this film. i was reading the details online, particularly the youth in the area, they were saying that in the united states we really value here our freedom of speech, but for them this is a religious issue. and at the end of the day it is more important to them than the freedom of speech. >> our coverage freedom of speech. >> our coverage continues right here on "early start." breaking news. what started as scattered violence, then escalating violence against u.s. embassy in cairo and the u.s. consulate in benghazi, libya, taking a very deadly turn. reuters and afp are reporting that the american ambassador to libya has been killed in its attacks on the u.s. consulate in benghazi and also reporting three other state department workers have been killed, as well. what cnn can tell you, we have confirmed, a greek contractor with the u.s. mission in benghazi telling cnn that he
identified the body of ambassador chris stevens in a benghazi street earlier today. this contractor does not want to be identified by name for fear for his safety but he knew the ambassador chris stevens from before. chris stevens an expert in the region. someone who has served there in various capacities for a long time. most recently president obama appointed him as ambassador to libya in may, zoraida. >> and elise labott, a producer from our washington office, gave us really great details of him as a personal man. a cnn reporter is live in tripoli, libya, with all the latest details from there. what can you tell us? >> as you mentioned, these are reports coming through news agencies saying that the u.s. diplomat killed in benghazi yesterday was christopher stevens. the u.s. embassy in tripoli has not been given much information about this. they are not confirming this report yet.
we'll have to wait and see. the libyan government, too, has not issued any official statements, but within an hour, we expect to hear from the libyan prime minister and the speaker of the libyan parliament who are holding a joint press conference to address this issue. there has been condemnation issued straight away after the attacks took place last night. saying that this is unacceptable, and this is not what the new libya is about. this is definitely a big blow to libya as it tries to re-establish its contacts and relations with the international community. >> jomaha, reuters is reporting that the staff members and the ambassador were killed when gunmen fired rockets at them. what can you tell us about that. >> according to eyewitnesses on the ground yesterday near the consulate, described the situation there as -- they said that members of a radical
islamic group did show up outside the embassy to protest. members of this group said that the security forces -- at them so they retaliated by bringing back their weapons including rocket-propelled grenades that were fired at the consulate building. went on for hours. fierce clashes. the battle took place there for hours. we have no clear details on how this account took place. we also know that there were a number of libyan casualties in these clashes. the government officials say at least one libyan, and seven other -- one libyan was killed and seven others were wounded in the clashes. >> all right. jomana stay with us. i want to switch over to mona eltahawy a journalist in cairo. are you with us? >> yes, i'm still here.
>> i want to talk a little bit about the american ambassador to libya, chris stevens. someone who was named just earlier this summer in may. but someone who's been in the area for some time. clearly he worked with transitional national council. clearly he's somebody who knew arab spring. knew this country before, during, and after its transition, its transition, and i want to take a look at what the u.s. embassy has said about him. he is someone who has been there at least ten years according to elise labott. he is someone who has served with the senior foreign service. he's someone who's been an old hand around there. originally from northern california. tell me what this does in the wake of arab spring for the, i guess the sentiment for people who were looking for some sort of peaceful -- here's what i was trying to read for you. ambassador chris stevens considers himself fortunate to participate in this incredible period of change and hope for libya. his job is to develop a strong, mutually beneficial relationship
between the united states and libya. clearly that strong relationship has been strained. ambassador stevens was the american representative to the transitional national council in benghazi during the revolution. this is a sad day for revolutionaries, isn't it? >> this is a horrendous day for revolutionaries. because our revolutions whether in egypt or libya or in syria now, where hundreds of people have been massacred by the regime, they have been revolutions for freedom, social justice and dignity. our revolutions have often reminded u.s. administrations that they sided with dictators. and we need to hear more from people like chris stevens, who understand the region, and who can convey the message to washington that to side with a dictator against his people is the biggest mistake. and right now what we need to understand is that these revolutions continue. they have not finished. libya is still trying to recover from 40 years of dictatorship.
someone like chris stevens understood that. here in egypt we are trying to recover from 30 years of dictatorship by the mubarak reege i'm. here in egypt the mubarak regime was supported by five u.s. administrations. so it's imperative that we, who belong to the revolution, and who want to continue our fight for freedom and social justice, we continue with that message and we are not derailed by the fringe right wing. and it's also imperative in the u.s., i am an egyptian american, so it's also important for people in the u.s. to understand that the right wing in the u.s. must not manipulate this and must not turn this into an election issue. more people have been killed in libya. this is not an election issue. we have an issue in egypt. this is not something we want the right wing to derail because of a horrendous youtube clip that most people have not seen. this is a sad day all around for many people. my condolences to the family of
those who died. but as an egypt shin, the freedom and social justice we're fighting for in our region, i'm much more outraged about what's happening in syria and about the neglect of the bahrainian revolution than some amateur horrendous video on youtube. >> as we're sitting here and watching the american flag torn down and one burning, and you know we're waking up to the news that there are americans killed, an ambassador killed which, you know, is just outrageous, can you talk a little bit more about this extremist movement and the minority that it is. >> absolutely. here in egypt we have a president who comes from the libyan brotherhood, which usually considers on the right wing. but now he has moved into the center, to woo u.s. business interests and to better try to represent all egyptians. so those who made the call, the majority of those who heeded the call to go to the u.s. embassy yesterday belong to the right wing. they are right of this president. and so we had a day of violence
from a president who was trying to distance himself from those people possibly. in libya you have a different situation where you have the fringe right wing minority, they are armed. those in egypt were not armed. those who went to the u.s. embassy. but those who packed the benghazi consulate yesterday were armed. this speaks to the fact that there are many groups on the ground who are armed in libya and it is now imperative for the libyan government to disarm these groups and to assert its control over libya. this is imperative for the president of egypt, mohamed mursi, to come out and condemn any kind of threat to foreign embassies, because these are considered basically the territory. also, the embassies. and to make it very clear, to both egyptians and the outside world, that we will not be derailed from our revolution, and we will not allow a right wing fringe minority to set the agenda for a country that's still fighting against
unemployment, poverty and the lack of freedom we've been denied for decades in our region. >> mona i want to just bring people up to speed who are just waking up in the united states, or who are just joining us around the world on cnn international. there are reports that the u.s. ambassador to libya has been killed in this attack on the american consulate in benghazi and i can tell you that here's what we know. we know that the state department was notified last night by the libyan government that an employee of the u.s. consulate had been killed. we know that the state department confirming that one of its officials had been killed. we know as well that a german contractor, a contractor to the u.s. mission, contractor working with the u.s. mission, confirmed, actually, that it was that person was confirmed to us that that person was the ambassador chris stevens. >> spent a lot of time with him so he was able to confirm that positively for us. we have reporters in egypt. we have reporters in libya. we are covering the story for
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confirmation from an unidentified greek contractor. a greek contractor in the benghazi consulate who does not want to be identified for his safety. he said he could hear rpgs last night. he said that three u.s. security personnel died with the u.s. ambassador. he said he saw all four bodies on the street this morning in benghazi. he says the bodies are in the central hospital. he added this greek contractor telling cnn more libyans died as well. they were all shot on the spot there. with reuters reporting is that the ambassador and three other state department workers were in a car. they were fleeing the attack. they were going to a more secure location from the u.s. consulate in benghazi. and they were hit by a rocket-propelled grenade. they underwent a grenade attack, as they were leaving the facility. we're still waiting for state department confirmation. we know last night that secretary of state hillary clinton said that their thoughts
and prayers are with the state department official who was killed in that violence. but we didn't know who that was. this morning putting the pieces together from various international news agency reports and our own reporting again from a greek contractor in benghazi, who was, indeed, chris stevens, u.s. ambassador to libya. man who was appointed to that post by the president just in may. >> i'd like to bring in peter brooks, a former deputy assistant secretary of defense. a former cia officer, as well. mr. brooks, are you there? >> yes, i'm here. >> what can you tell us about this situation? >> well, it's very troubling if true. and i'm supposed to appear later this morning to talk about what happened yesterday in cairo and benghazi. this obviously is an escalation and you have to wonder whether this is related to 9/11 or to the attacks on the consulate yesterday in benghazi. obviously very troubling, if true, and it really reminds us that we live in a dangerous world. >> did you know the ambassador? >> no, i did not. i did not know the ambassador,
and gosh our thoughts and prayers are obviously with his family. if this is tragedy true. >> now as you mentioned cairo and we were taking a look at all the protesters there. we know that we have no confirmation that these two attacks are related. and we know that this was a protest that happened at the u.s. embassy in cairo, unlike the gunfire that we're hearing about in benghazi. do you think that they are connected somehow? >> there's a possibility of it. you have to realize yesterday was the 11th anniversary of 9/11. and then there's, you know, that that certainly -- i don't know if that's a coincidence or not but they did take time. they did take place at the same time. sometimes these groups do work together. but my sense is that they may not be necessarily coordinated, but clearly based on a very important date in american history. >> i know, in cairo what you saw was a lot of flag burning, a lot of very angry protesting.
in benghazi there have been other attacks against american and british personnel throughout the summer, really, and they're armed to the teeth in benghazi. >> we certainly have to pay attention while we're in this very important political season. we certainly have to pay attention to what's going on overseas. there's no doubt about that. certainly will remind americans. we also have to be very cautious in our foreign policies, and of course, in the protection of american citizens, and american interests abroad. >> and what do you make of these film? do you think that there is some sort of a connection here with the radical islamists and what's happening in both places? >> i think there's still a lot of rage at the united states in that part of the world. and it's very, very unsettled politically. you think about it, it's kind of ironic, these horrible attacks on american interests and american citizens. after what the united states did, for instance, in libya, and getting rid of the regime of moammar gadhafi. and you know, moving away from
the regime hosni mubarak. i mean, it's interesting, i think some people could certainly see this as quite ungrateful on the part of these individuals. i think there's a confluence of different things here. the film, which i have not seen, the 9/11 situation, and the general unsettledness, or general unsettledness of the political situation in that part of the world. >> peter, you have experience with the cia. you are a former deputy assistant secretary of defense. clearly you know the inner workings of the, i guess, the government angle of this, you know, the embassies. what do we think is happening right now to american embassies around the world? we're getting no confirmation. nothing from the state department really. are they securing embassies? are they securing consulates around the world? >> there's a lot of fire drills. obviously the embassies and consulates are very concerned about their security. they will be liaising with local officials to make sure the
embassies are protected. a lot of times the real security comes from local police forces and other security forces in the local countries, as well as the marines that are posted there. they're also going to be talking to american citizens. they generally have a good list of american citizens that are residents in the cities, where embassies and consulates are in the countries and probably going to be reaching out to them and giving them advice on taking protective measures for themselves and their families. officials need to be careful of inciting more violence or more attacks against american facilities or americans around the world at this point. you don't want to embolden people a day after 9/11. you know what i mean? >> right. and of course our intelligence folks are going to be really hustling obviously on the ground, overseas, and over here in washington, because who knows what's coming next. in some ways this is kind of like, you know, the 9/11 attack, obviously on a much smaller
scale. the sense what's coming next. is something else coming next? the intelligence people are going to be really hustling to find out anything they can. >> i want you to stand by here for a moment, because cnn has confirmed now that the united states ambassador to libya, christopher stevens, was killed in a rocket attack on the american consulate in the city of benghazi on tuesday. so we do have definite confirmation of that. if we can go back and talk about the situation in cairo. and mohamed mursi not releasing a statement yesterday. what do you make of that? >> well, i think i'm disappointed. we have had a statement on this provisional government in libya but i'm disappointed and i'm worried about that. i think that the government of egypt has to come out and say things that will discourage and deter further actions against american citizens, and american interests. the united states has reached out to this new government. there are american businessmen
were just in town, 100 or so american businessmen to try to increase trade opportunities between the two countries. the u.s. state department talked about getting rid of a billion dollars in debt that egypt owes to the united states. we've done a lot for them. i think it's important that he stand up. if i were trying to channel him, he's very concerned about making the muslim brotherhood look soft on some of these issues in the space of the actions of these more radical groups in egypt. so i think he's got to be, do the right thing and stand up and say the right things about this violence. protesting is one thing. violence is another thing. and at this point, i've not seen a statement, and i hope we'll see one soon. >> peter brooks, former cia officer, thank you so much for being with us this morning and sharing your perspective. we appreciate it. >> u.s. ambassador to libya has been killed. this is according to our own reporting from a greek contractor who saw his body and
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u.s. consulate in benghazi. his name is j. christopher stevens. he was named to that position by the president in just in may, and it looks as though, from the best of our reporting, he was fleeing the consulate there, under that attack. and he and three others were killed in a rocket attack. we have spoken with a greek contractor at the mission who said yes he saw his body and the bodies of three others. i want to go to elise labott who can bring us up to speed on what the state department is not saying at this hour about this attack. we know an official has been killed. that was something that secretary of state hillary clinton confirmed last night. we didn't know who it was. it looks as though now, elise, it was the ambassador. >> it looks now it was the ambassador chris stevens. originally our understanding last night that it was not chris stevens. but it's now, apparently as
we've seen from that confirmation, that it is. this is really going to be devastating, christine, to the whole diplomatic community, and the whole state department community. chris stevens was one of the most popular ambassadors and foreign service officers, really, in the whole department, and he was such a middle east hand, everybody knew him. really loved libya. he's been working in and out of libya for the better part of about five years. started in 2007. as the first u.s. official to go on the ground as the u.s. was restoring its -- to the regime moammar gadhafi and really trying to build up u.s. political and economic relationships there. then when the arab spring happened and the libyans took to the streets against moammar gadhafi he was quickly appointed as the ambassador to the transitional government in benghazi. really helping them to build the transitional government that could be ready the day after moammar gadhafi falls.
and so when moammar gadhafi did eventually fall there was nobody, he was really the only choice that could be seen as the ambassador to libya to stand up to this new government. and christine, i was at his swearing-in. we were at a lot of events before he left. he loved libya so much. he felt so warmly about the people there. and he was really helping to get this young, new country back on its feet. and so it's really going to be not just devastating to his family and friends, but really the whole state department today will be mourning. >> and you mentioned, this is a young guy. i believe it was secretary of state hillary clinton who referred to him as a young diplomat. he's a career member, senior foreign service appointed by president obama. he arrived in tripoli in may of 2012. as you mentioned, part of the libyan transitional national council during libyan revolution. you knew him personally. this is somebody, i don't know that you consider him a friend, but when we were talking to you earlier it sure sounded like it. can you tell us a little bit about him? >> when we cover the state
department, we cover anything we really try to be objective and not cover these people as friends. but there are some people that you see socially and that you get to know a little bit better and chris stevens was one of those people. he really reached out to such a wide bunch of people, to really not just be social but also to get their opinions. he always wanted to talk about how we saw the situation in libya. he was also an expert on arms control and served in the bure yo of arms control for awhile. but i remember when he came back from libya after his appointment in 2007, he used to say i want to get back to libya. i want to get back to libya, because he loved the country so much. really one of the most popular guys. really, as you can see from those pictures there, a good-looking guy. really popular with the ladies at the state department. everyone really liked him a lot. he was just seen as a really nice guy. no agenda. no ego. just wanted to get at the important work of the u.s. government in libya and around the world.
>> we know he was in benghazi at the u.s. consulate there. we know there are three other people who were killed with him, probably state department people according to one of our sources. but we're still waiting for state department confirmation. when can we expect that? >> i think it's going to be coming in the next few hours. even sources that i call regularly and are really good about picking up the phone, everybody right now is hunkering down, in meetings. they've been up all night, because we were working on -- they were working on the embassy issue in cairo, and also trying to secure this facility in benghazi overnight. so they've been working all night. right now, i think what they're going to be doing is not only trying to secure those facilities in libya, but also i think that right now, before they speak too publicly about what's going on, they want to make sure all u.s. diplomatic facilities, particularly in the middle east, are secure right now, as we see in those foment of anti-american sentiment and there's a lot of skittish people
at the state department. i think right now, securing the facilities is going to be important. and then they'll get to the work of confirming and mourning chris stevens and the others that were killed. >> elise labott live in washington for us. that picture that you're looking at there is chris stevens, u.s. ambassador to libya who was killed overnight in attack. at usaa, we believe honor is not exclusive to the military, and commitment is not limited to one's military oath. the same set of values that drive our nation's military are the ones we used to build usaa bank. with our award winning apps that allow you to transfer funds, pay bills or manage your finances anywhere, anytime. so that wherever your duty takes you, usaa bank goes with you. visit us online to learn what makes our bank so different.
we're follow being breaking news this morning. the death of the american ambassador to libya, j. christopher stevens. the ambassador was just named to his post in tripoli in may. but a longtime middle east hand and someone who, by all accounts, loved libya. he was killed in that violence yesterday. that violence against u.s. consulate in benghazi. one of our sources telling us that our source who said he identified his body and three others in the street in ben gauze zpi according to reuters he was being taken out of the facility as it was under siege, taken out to a safer location
and came under rocket-propelled grenade attack while in his car. the state department has not confirmed his death but did confirm the death of one state department official. at the time secretary of state hillary clinton saying our thoughts and prayers are with his family and those who suffered in this attack. still waiting for official confirmation from the state department that it was the ambassador. numerous agencies saying that indeed it was. >> it was originally unidentified greek contractor in benghazi that said it was him. here's more information he gave us. he could hear the rpg attacks. three personnel died with the ambassador. he said all four bodies were on the street. the bodies areow in a central hospital in benghazi. he also added more libyans died. we're trying to get details, how many specifically were killed. this was on the heels of what happened in cairo yesterday. this was a u.s. embassy in cairo. if we can show some of the pictures of that. a film. we're calling it a film that
came out. it was created by an american. those are the pictures right there at the u.s. embassy in cairo yesterday. and they tore down the u.s. flag, burned the u.s. flag. these are protesters there. it was because of this film, an andy muslim film that was created by an american, and the folks on the ground there saying that we value our freedom of speech, but that they value their religion more. and so this was a way of protesting that film, at anti-muslim film. whether the two are related or not we don't know. but they were happening at the same time. >> we know yesterday was a dangerous day for american interests in the middle east. i want to bring in jamie rubin, former assistant secretary of state in the clinton administration. he knows the region well. he was watching very closely throughout all of the arab spring. jamie, after those many, many months of revolutionaries trying to get control of their own countries, this is a sad, very, very sad day for the new dawn in the middle east, isn't it?
>> it is terribly counterintuitive, and ironic, that a country that the west did so much to help free from gadhafi, and the terrible atrocities -- >> jamie, we're having trouble hearing you. >> it's ironic that this would happen in libya, where the united states did so much to help the people there, and obviously it's been a long time since an american ambassador has been assassinated in this way anywhere in the world. but to happen in a country that the united states, along with britain and france, did so much to bring freedom to, is terribly tragic. >> talk a little bit about what was happening yesterday at the same time. so you had the embassy protests in cairo. in egypt. where people were furious. furious. a group of people were furious about what we're calling a film, more like a homemade video that was insulting to mohammed, the prophet. then you take a look at what's happening in libya.
much more heavily armed. much more violent there. people killed. many people killed in that particular attack. do you think they're both sparked by this film? or do you think there's something else going on here? it was on the anniversary of 9/11? >> i don't know the specific facts of who would have an rpg and what kind of operation that's involved. obviously the protests at the embassy in cairo and other parts of the world were not with armed military groups conducting those types of protests. they were mobs who got out of control at the u.s. embassy. but i think the larger lesson here is that the darker side of the arab spring is that some of the extremist islamic movements that were kept in check by the dictators like gadhafi, by the dictators in that part of the
world, including president mubarak and egypt are now free in an environment where democratic change has come to express themselves, and one of the ways that they do that in cairo is with these mobs to develop an anti-american theme, contributed to by these crazy americans who are sparking this. and i think they deserve a lot of condemnation for inciting this kind of, you know civilizational hatred between the islamic world and the western world. but nevertheless, these mobs are now freer, in an environment where you don't have a dictator in egypt, don't have a dictator in libya, to pursue their agenda with climbing the walls of the u.s. embassy. and i suspect committing terrible violence if they could get their hands on an ambassador. obviously an rpg attack is something very different and
we'll have to wait for the facts to find out precisely who was responsible. >> we were talking earlier to peter brooks, former deputy assistant secretary of defense, former cia officer, and he made this connect with september 11th. what do you think about that? >> well, it was september 11th. i guess not precisely when this happened. but close to it. every september 11th, people look to see whether there are acts taking place. the fascination of an american ambassador, it sounds to me as possible that they were staking out the u.s. ambassador and they had the kind of advanced military equipment such as it is, an rpg, a rocket pr-propell grena grenade, that could conduct such an assassination. it's certainly possible that this is a small, local al qaeda group that is looking to try to
get attention to itself by linking itself to 9/11 and attacking a prominent american target. that's certainly possible. >> did you know ambassador stevens? >> i did not know him well. he was a younger group. i knew him as a younger man, but not well. >> thanks for checking with us. we know you've been watching the arab spring so closely over the past year. it certainly is a disappointment to see that this is -- >> tragedy. >> elise labott is here with us. she's our state department producer. she's in washington, foreign affairs producer. elise you've known him for ten years. we're still waiting for the owe firm confirmation. telg us a little bit more about him and the job he was doing in libya. >> really, since 2007, when the u.s. was trying to restore its ties to libya under moammar gadhafi he was trying to build u.s. diplomatic, political, civil society and economic ties, and then when the arab spring happened and he was appointed as the envoy to the opposition to
the transitional government there, he was really trying to help build the institutions that were going to create this foundation for a democratic libya. and so, christine, when the u.s. was -- when secretary clinton and president obama were looking for an ambassador for libya, not only was he so eager for the job and really campaigned heavily for the job, he was the only choice because he had so many contacts on the ground. knew so much about the fabric of society, about the different tribes. about the different groups. i mean libya's a very tribal society. he really took time. he used to have this map in his office of all of these different tribes in libya, and where they were in different regions. and he just knew so much about the country. and so he was really trying to help create the foundations of a democratic libya, not just the political ones, security ones, economic, he had a lot of experience in arms control, and was helping and securing that arsenal of, you know, a lot of loose weapons in libya.
that's one of the priorities in the country, to continue to secure all those loose weapons. he had a lot of experience in that. really across the board helping to build up this fragile, young state. and there were a lot of concerns about islamists taking over, but as libyans were moving towards elections, you would speak to chris stevens and he said, i know these libyan people have a lot of determination and he wanted to help them get to where they needed to be. >> that kind of wraps up his job, right? but on a personal level, what did you know about him and his family? >> chris was known as a really nice guy. he was one of the most popular people in the state department foreign service. he was, you know, really everyone liked him. really good-looking guy. very popular with the ladies. all the girls at the state department used to talk about how cute he was. more than that he was just a nice guy. loved to just sit and chat about the middle east, about sports, about northern california, where he was from.
i have family there as well. so we used to talk about how we both wanted to retire to northern california because of the wine country, and the area that he loved so much. and his parents were getting on in years, and so he was thinking, after maybe this tour, he wanted to spend more time with his family. certainly as he was leaving for libya his family was around. really all-around nice guy who cared so much about doing the important work of the u.s. government. >> we've also been monitoring what the libyan government has been saying. libya's deputy interior minister had a live press conference from benghazi where this is what he said happened in these final moments. he said an angry crowd marched toward the u.s. consulate with their weapons. they were protesting the u.s. stance and the fact that they didn't stop his insulting movie about the prophet from being made. when the consulate security guards heard the gunfire, it seemed as they felt that the consulate was about to be attacked or under attack so they started to fire from uninside
the consulate. that led to more anger and this is when the consulate was stormed. you know among those protesters, the deputy interior minister says that there were those who infiltrated the march to start chaos. we don't know exactly from the u.s. perspective what happened yet, elise. but that's what the deputy interior minister is telling people. >> that might be all well and good. but under diplomatic contenti contentions, the libyan government is responsible to help secure u.s. diplomatic facilities, and all the diplomatic facilities of a host country. so i understand that there was a lot of problems with this video that people had a lot of objections to it. but the first role of host country in terms of diplomatic missions is to secure the country. when you saw secretary of state hillary clinton's statement this morning, she called the libyan president as this was going on to talk about the need to secure u.s. diplomatic facilities. so there will be a lot of
discussion, i think, about what the u.s. role should be now in the region, about u.s. anti-sentiment in the region. but i think one of the first orders of business is to make sure that u.s. -- if the u.s. is going to continue to help libya, and not only did it help these libyans get rid of moammar gadhafi and stand up a new government but it's going to continue to help on the economic front. on the political front. they're going to have to make sure that that the libyans are going to hold up to their responsibilities to secure diplomatic facilities. and to say that -- to put the onus on the united states right now, i think the state department is going to find that pretty inappropriate. >> elise labott foreign affairs reporter live from washington. thank you. so the news this morning, j. christopher stevens, u.s. ambassador to libya has been killed. we're going to take a quick break. we'll be right back.
welcome back. we're bringing you up to speed on some breaking news out of benghazi, libya, where the u.s. ambassador to libya, ambassador chris stevens has been killed. he and three other american personnel, we are told, were attacked in a car as they were leaving the benghazi consulate which was under attack. they were hit by rpgs, and a
greek contractor working at the embassy tells cnn that they saw the ambassadors body and the body of three others in a benghazi street. we do not have official confirmation from the state department. we do know personnel are in meetings. we know that the secretary of state hillary clinton issued a statement saying that a state department official had been killed in that violence. but not naming who that person was. and now, we know that there is great sadness this morning in the diplomatic community, over the fact that this man, who loved the region, loved libya, wanted to help libya in its transition into a new -- into a new future, that he has been killed in this attack on the u.s. consulate. >> young guy born in 1960 in california. and said that when he would retire he wanted to head back to california. a lot of personal details about him this morning as well. we'd like to bring in peter brooks. a former deputy assistant secretary of defense, former cia officer under the bush
administration i believe that was. are you there? >> yes, i am. >> so i wanted to read something to you, it's a presser that came out from this. libya's deputy interior minister, he had a live presser from benghazi not too long ago and this is his account. an angry crowd marched towards the u.s. consulate with their weapons to protest the u.s. stance and the fact that they didn't stop the insulting movie about the prophet from being made. when the consulate security guards heard the gunfire it seems that they felt thats consulate was about to be attacked or under attack so they started to fire from inside the consulate. this led to more anger, and this is when the consulate was stormed. we were talking earlier with you about what happened in cairo. in cairo, egypt. the protests that were happening there. it was this anti-muslim movie that was created by an american, and that's what sparked the protest there. flag bunrning. the question was whether the two were related.
what do you think. >> we're still processing all of this. there's a possibility that it was related. it's interesting it happened on the same day. there may be some -- have been some coordination between the groups. i have no evidence of that. we may hear more about that later. it's interesting, though, that two separate countries on the same issue on the same day, an incident like this took place. but that's kind of in a certain way, that's kind of a minor issue, compared to the personal human tragedy, and of course, what this means for the united states, and the security of the united states, in that part of the world. >> you made a correlation earlier, as well, with the attacks of september 11th. you think that they're related? >> there's certainly a possibility. it happened on september 11th. you know, that that's a day when certainly there's going to be a lot of media coverage of american relations with the arab and muslim world and the middle east. so that would make a reason for them to make that sort of stand. you know what i'm really troubled about is that this attack on benghazi, eight peers to me, just from looking, like i
said, we're all processing this still, is that they must have been laying in wait for the ambassador. if this terrible story is true about the attack on his vehicle. because, they probably knew where he would exit the embassy. they obviously -- or the consulate. they had significant weapons and an rpg with them. and attack. my concern, i can't relate it to egypt. but about benghazi is this was meant to force the ambassador to leave the ben gauze zpi consulate, and then he was attacked. that shows a greater level of sophistication to me at a very first glance sort of look. >> let's talk about this reaction to this video. i want to tell people more about this video. it's a video considered offensive by muslims, it was posted to youtube. promoted by radical anti-muslim blogs, a video that was reported on by arabic news organizations.
a lot of folks think this was the trigger for this upswelling of violence, the attacks on the embassy in cairo and the consulate in benghazi in libya. at this point i would assume state department officials and people executing foreign policy around the world are very concerned about this video still inciting more pockets of violence elsewhere. what do you think is being done, from your experience in foreign policy, to secure american facilities abroad? >> well, they have to do that. i mean obviously that's going to be job number one. we have all these embassies and consulates around the world. i think we need to be able to protect them. the workers there. and also american citizens that are in these countries. there are generally lists of americans. it's a voluntary registration. if there's a natural disaster or something horrible like this that happens in one part of the world, they want to give some sort of advice to americans about how to protect themselves. so there's obviously, they're reaching out to people in their communities. there's probably community leaders that are reaching out to other american citizens and
giving them advice. and there are some practical things that americans can do to protect themselves overseas. outside of moving to the embassy or leaving the country. i think everybody's very, very nervous right now. the state department and defense department and intelligence agencies are all abuzz and working 24/7 to see if there's any additional attacks that are going to take place. especially ones that may be incited by what happened yesterday. and obviously he is, very troubling for us. >> what happens next. the united states has worked so hard on the relationships with these two countries. what happens next? >> it's hard to say. you know, you want to hope that these are isolated incidents. that we're not going to see any more of this. you want the government to stand up and say the right things about it. i wasn't completely comfortable at all with the libyan statement. i think it should have been stronger, about condemning this sort of violence. you want to see the security forces cracking down on these groups. it appears that the group in
egypt may be a little bit more organized. i'm not clear at all about benghazi. but the fact that the ambassador's car was attacked tells me they knew something more. there's more of a bigger plot there than was going on. so there's, like i said, there's a whole laundry list of things to do, and everybody's worried about what's going to happen next. so everybody's on full alert. >> all right. still, peter brooks thank you so much. still waiting for confirmation from the state department. word from the state department. we know that last night secretary of state hillary clinton said that an american state department official had died in the attack on u.s. consulate in benghazi. >> and we are continuing to follow these developments overseas. as anti-american protests break out in the middle east. angry mobs, hitting u.s. buildings in libya, in egypt. leaving an american diplomat dead. right now officials around the world are putting extra security on alert to guard against similar assaults. >> we've got this story breaking story covered like no other network can.
breaking news for you this morning. we've been telling you about the violence against american interests in both cairo and benghazi and libya. we can tell you now that the american ambassador to libya has been killed in that violence in benghazi yesterday. his name is chris stevens. >> j. christopher stevens. >> he was appointed in may of 2012. but he has been a middle east hand. he knows libya, loves libya. he's a special representative to the international council. he was advising the libyans as they were going through arab spring. this is what the u.s. amy bassdy says about him. ambassador chris stevens considers himself fortunate to participate in this incredible period of change and hope for libya. as the president's
representative, his job is to develop a strong, mutually beneficial relationship between the united states and libya. goes on to say ambassador stevens was the american representative to the transitional national council in benghazi during the revolution. >> let's bring in elise labott. she is live in washington for us. and elise, you spent a lot of time, you knew this man very well. what can you tell us about him? >> chris stevens was, you know, his enthusiasm not just for the middle east, but libya in particular was really infectious. i was with him in 2007, in libya, when he was the charge d'affaires of the embassy as the u.s. was restoring its ties to moammar gadhafi's regime. and he was so excited about this, you know, country that was really an enigma for so many years, to get in there and try and form relationships with the libyan people, after so many years, the u.s. had not had ties with the libyan people. and so, then, when he went back to benghazi as the envoy to the
opposition, to the transitional national council, he really tapped in to that wide network of contact, and the tribes, libya's a very tribal society. many different groups, many different tribes. so he had contact throughout the whole country. not just in the civil society, but in the business community. he loved to entertain, and he loved to invite libyans over to his house, and so when they looked after the arab spring to appoint a new u.s. ambassador to libya, after the moammar gadhafi fell, really chris stevens was seen as the only person that could do it. his enthusiasm for libya really unparalleled. >> all right. elise labott live for us in washington. thank you for all of those details. again, u.s. ambassador to libya j. christopher stevens, born in 1960, very young man, killed. we'll have more after this break. at purina one,
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well that's it for us on "early start." i'm zoraida sambolin. >> i'm christine romans. breaking coverage begins on "starting point." john berman and brooke baldwin in for soledad this morning. >> good morning, welcome to "starting point," i'm john berman. >> good morning, i'm brooke baldwin. soledad is off this week. we begin with the breaking news this morning. cnn has now confirmed the u.s. ambassador to libya, the man you see on the left side of your screen, christopher stevens, and three other embassy staff, they are dead. killed in a rocket attack targeting the ambassador's car in libya. >> the group apparentlyn