We discuss the killing of the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three other Americans by armed protesters at a demonstration over an anti-Muslim video.

On Chris Stevens' Character

We worked together briefly when he was at the consulate in Jerusalem. And I think above all, above anything that's been said this morning — a terrific man, an outstanding diplomat, and a profound loss.

–Aaron David Miller

Not to overstate it, Chris Stevens was a very close friend of mine in law school and that was more than 20 years ago. We kept in touch thereafter for a few years, but then we lost touch. But I just wanted to offer, sort of go from the political to the personal, and say this was a guy who was just an enormously decent human being, who left the world of corporate law to do what he considered to be good in the world. [He] was more value driven than almost anyone I've ever met. I just think it's an enormous loss for our community and for the nation. This was just an enormously decent human being.

–Caller, Dylan from Berkeley

On Anti-Americanism in a Post Arab-Spring World

I do believe, even before the Arab spring, there was a rising current of anti-American sentiment in the region. Our policies are profoundly disliked and when the authoritarians, the adversarial and acquiescing authoritarians, who kept the lid on were forced from power, public opinion and public sentiment [began to play] a much greater role in shaping the political climate. It is no coincident that, it would strain the bounds of credulity to the breaking point to assume that this was some haphazard random event which had nothing to do with the anniversary of 9/11.

–Aaron David Miller

I think these new regimes, have not yet demonstrated a capacity, to maintain the kind of [needed] security, whether it's an inability or it's an unwillingness. The governments of Libya and Eqypt need to be told in no uncertain terms by our government that a condition for cooperation, forget economic reform, forget the relationship with Israel for now, but they need to be told in unmistakable terms, as a condition of continued cooperation and assistance from the United States of America that they are responsible for the safety and security of American citizens and American diplomats.

— Aaron David Miller

On the Middle-East's Misunderstanding of Freedom of Speech

There's another issue which to me is deeply troubling and extremely controversial and that is the conflation that exists in the minds of too many Islamists that the West is somehow responsible, the West, the United States, America, Denmark, for the efforts of individuals, who in a climate of freedom of conscious and freedom of expression essentially, at least in this society, in this system, have the right to express their views. And I think it's not the grievances that are so alarming. I'm not a religious man, but I would be aggrieved too if some of the images that you yourself conveyed that this filmmaker conveyed in his film, assaulted and insulted my religion, it is crossing the line from grievance to violence

— Aaron David Miller

President Morsi's spokesman came out and said that President Obama should prosecute the makers of this despicable film. There's not really a conception of how [free speech] works. And I think that's something that's going to be a problem going forward in the US/Egypt relations as well.

–Janine Zacharia


U.S. Ambassador to Libya Killed 12 September,2012forum

Janine Zacharia, visiting lecturer at Stanford University and former Jerusalem bureau chief and Middle East correspondent for The Washington Post
Aaron David Miller, public policy scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and former adviser to six secretaries of state on Arab-Israeli negotiations
Tarek El Tablawy, Cairo bureau chief for Bloomberg News
Thomas Henriksen, author and senior fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University
Phyllis Bennis, author and fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies

  • Peter

    A month ago, your guest Aaron David Miller wrote an op-ed (*) about Israel in the New York Times, stating: “The country’s demographics look bad — too many ultra-Orthodox Jews, Palestinians and Israeli Arabs and not enough secular Jews.” If I’m not mistaken, Mr. Miller considers himself to be a secular Jew. Could he share his insights into how good or bad the demographics of the United States look, in terms of having too many or not enough members of particular ethnic or religious groups?

  • The national interests of the United States are not the national interests of Israel. 

  • Rhet

    Because there is no evidence of any gods, Israel has no reason to be located in Palestine.
    Because most Jews originate from Eastern Europe and are descended mostly from Khazars and Slavs, their natural home is Eastern Europe, not Palestine.
    Because Zionists used terrorist tactics to drive out and kill off Palestinians (as did for instance Rahm Emanuel’s father) criminal trials are mandatory and long overdue.

  • Ginny

    It’s going around facebook right now that the film, promoted by Pastor Terry Jones 

    FYI the film was made by an Israeli American real estate developer and financed by approximately 100 Jewish donors. The pastor promoted it, among others.”  Is this true?

  • Riccardo

    During this election year it pays to reflect on the freedoms that we take for granted, like free speech. Remember to vote!

  • Molly Freeman

    to remember about the voting patterns of American Jews:Since
    exit polling began in 1972, Democratic presidential candidates have
    received an average of 70% of the Jewish vote.

    to Gallup, Jews are the most liberal religious group in America –
    and more than twice as liberal as the country as a whole.

    percent currently identify with the Democratic Party, a number that has remained
    consistent over the last five years, with the exception of 2008 when the
    number spiked to 72 percent at the end of a historically unpopular
    Republican presidency.

    Among Jewish Democrats, 86 percent
    approved of Obama before and 85 percent after the
    President’s May 2011 speech expressing supporting an I-P peace agreement
    based on a return to the pre-1967 borders found it had no effect on Jewish
    attitudes toward the president. 


    Israel ranks near the bottom of
    the list of Jewish voting priorities, with only 7-9 percent of voters
    identifying it as being one of their top two.

    • Roist

       The discriminating reader will note that Molly Freeman’s comment has exactly nothing to do with the issue of Libyan mobs murdering American diplomats.

  • kjb126

    While in theory, in keeping with freedom of speech we in the west should not put up with the intolerance of criticism, we have very little leverage with the Arab street. They are largely where the west was a couple of centuries ago, when similar criticism of Christianity would have also resulted in an uproar, and we are just going to have to hope that they catch up quickly.

    • tedicrawford

      Freedom of speech yes. Freedom of hate speech, no.

      • TrainedHistorian

        Have you actually SEEN the film? It’s more campy than vitriolic. I am very hard pressed to see it as hate speech, and I’m sure I’m not the only one. I’ve seen much more offensive portrayals of Muhammad on YouTube & the Internet.
        Besides, you can hardly claim you believe in freedom of speech” if you think it should only extend to ideas you don’t find offensive. Go englighten yourself on the concept.

      • utera

        Sorry but speech is not hate when it simply is against superstition.  What you claim is hate is actually just a claim of blasphemy.  Should I be allowed to discredit your religion? Of course, if you call that hate you don’t know what free speech or freedom of conscience is.

  • Mike G.

    CBS reporting this morning:

    “Wanis al-Sharef, a Libyan Interior Ministry official in Benghazi, said the four Americans were killed when the angry mob, which gathered to protest a U.S.-made film that ridicules Islam’s Prophet Muhammad, fired guns and burned down the U.S. consulate in Benghazi.

    He said Stevens, 52, and other officials were moved to a second building – deemed safer – after the initial wave of protests at the consulate compound. According to al-Sharef, members of the Libyan security team seem to have indicated to the protesters the building to which the American officials had been relocated, and that building then came under attack.”

    This directly contradicts Obama’s contention during his comments this morning, “Libyan security personnel fought back against the attackers alongside Americans.  Libyans helped some of our diplomats find safety…”

    I understand waiting for all the facts to come to light, but it appears that the Libyan security forces have forgone their obligation to protect our ambassador.

  • PS

    The film was the act of a coward, someone who hides behind the American flag while poking the beehive.

    • Rhet

      The film is too awful and too bizarre to not be a deliberate provocation.
      This film was made to have an impact on the US election.
      No wonder that 2 US warships are headed to Libya. This was just the excuse needed for an invasion and colonization.

      • TrainedHistorian

        Where is your evidence? Since it’s been on the Internet long before it was used as an excuse for the attack this is not believable.  BTW, there are other much more offensive portrayals on YouTube and the Internet generally than this one and have been for a while, so your allegation about the election connection fails. 

        Yes, the film is awful, in the camp sense. Reminds of me of Life of Brian or South Park with even worse “productions values.” It looks like the bad sets & bad acting was done deliberately.

         Bizarre? Any one who knows some of the, from a modern point of view, more controversial parts of the hadith and sira (medieval biographies of Muhammad), can see that the the film is alluding to some of  them–satirically of course. If you know the allusions, the film seems less bizarre than it would to someone who does not know them.

    • TrainedHistorian

      Have you actually SEEN the film. There were no American flags in it or references to modern nationalisms of any kind.  How about actually seeing something before mischaracterizing it?

  • Johnson Persis

    I don’t hear anyone talking about Americans at home being conscious that reckless at home actions may place our fellow compatriots in danger abroad. Free speech aside, let’s be aware that we should not want to place each other in harms way

    • TrainedHistorian

      I hope you are not suggesting that we change our laws protecting freedom of speech in Western countries because murderers kill others over for what Americans have the right to express. This will only encourage more killing, because the censors & fanatics will see that they can get what the what (silencing what they disapprove of) by through violence. And once you do that, you will have ruined America  & the West freedom of thought, speech & religion, as well as equality before the law, are ultimately what makes the West greater than the contemporary Middle East. 
      BTW Have you even seen the film? It’s more camp-y, dopey satire with bad production values (probably deliberately) than really vitriolic. Considerably less offensive than many episodes of South Park, or Life of Brian. I’ve seen much more offensive depictions of Muhammad on YouTube than this (like some of the posts during the “Everyone Draw Muhammad Day.”). Once I saw how campy the film was I became very suspicious that it was cherry picked by the murderers as a excuse for the attack. 

      • Logical

        Thank you for being intelligent. Regardless of the movie, an entire group, in this case Americans, were attacked due to actions of a few. Should American die-hards attack a nationality when people of the same background offend Americans? I find it sad and pathetic that the people that use the free speech they’re afforded want to censor others because it might offend others. I ask them if they would condemn anything if death or prison was a result of their beliefs were spoken in another country. I highly doubt it. BTW Wasn’t it NATO and the U.S. mostly that spared the Libyan and Egyptian citizens from horrible repercussions from their government, which btw kills and killed people who disagree/disagreed. How ironic.

  • tedicrawford

    Saddened that there is no sense of responsibility on “our” side. The film that lit the spark of anger sounded to me like pure hate “speech” yet no one has addressed this.  In respect to the tragic death of our ambassador, perhaps a moment of reflection on hate on all sides and a request to tone it down would be appropriate.  Instead Netanyahu is demanding Obama to establish a trigger for the a US military strike on Iran!

    • TrainedHistorian

      Sounded to you like “hate speech”? How about actually viewing it yourself.  It’s hardly the most vitriolic portrayal of Muhammad posted on YouTube . It’s very campy, dopey, silly, complete with “bad production values” (bad sets, over-acted) which look as if they were chosen deliberately to provoke the sort of laughter that the jerky animation and adoescent “humor” of South Park, or Team America, are intended to provoke.

      And “hate on on sides” outrageously equates killing four people with a satirical PORTRAYAL of something some find offensive. They aren’t remotely equivalent in moral terms.

  • eriksf

    In my 50 years of life this is how it has always been in the MIddle East and I fear this is how it always will be. We are a secular democracy that believes in free speech. The theocracies in the Middle East operate as we did in the Middle Ages. Until they evolve out of the darkness of religious fanaticism nothing will change.

  • nafiss

    We must be firm and jail the hate mongers and prevent their movies from being propagated.  This is a major case.  We are alienating a people in the most strategic area to the U.S.  It is our economic interest at stake.  Let act and put the busters in jail.  If Julian Assange can’t be covered by the first amendment then these hate mongers shouldn’t be either.  Julian Assange by diffusing the reality of the middle east in Wikileaks actually will help us mend relations with the people and refocus our policy.  These guys who diffuse diatribes against  a man who said: “might is when you pardon those who harmed you when you have them under you power”, or “go seek sciences even in China”, those people are ignorant of space-time evolution of a culture and a religion.  Women were entirely disinherited before islam.  Muhammad gave them half the portion of a man.  They were killed at birth if the father chose to do it.  Muhammad made it a mortal sin.  After his death many found the changes overwhelming and refused to abide by them.

    • TrainedHistorian

      “We must be firm and jail the hate mongers and prevent their movies from being propagated.”

      Absolutely not. We have freedom of speech in this country, and our leaders need to defend it. They need to PROTECT the filmmaker rather than arrest him. If you don’t like crudely done lampoons of Muhammad, move away to  those bastions of tyrrany in the Middle East where people ARE jailed, even killed, for expressing views of Muhammad or Islam that the powers that be find offensive. But we need our intellectual freedoms to be kept intact here.

      And your comparison of the filmmakers to Julian Assange is absurd. Assange may be possibly guilty ofdivulging classified state secrets. The filmaker of this campy lampoon certainly is not divluging classified state information. Get a grip.

      As to your nonrelevant non sequiturs about what Muhammad ‘s world supposedly was like and what he supposedly said & did, I say as a specialist in this time & place Eastern Mediterranean (6th-9th century), for the most part you are spouting modern apologetic propaganda meant to distort or whitewash the early Islamic past. “Women were entirely disinherited before Islam”—NONSENSE. Late Roman law (Justinian’s Code) gave women under its rule better property rights than the Koran, since it required daughter to inherit EQUALLY with brothers in cases of intestacy (Institutes 3.1.16) , while the Koran only grants a daughter half of what her brothers get.  As for Mecca, we don’t have any primary source evidence from that city dating before Islam so we don’t know really know whether Muhammad made female property rights worse or better there. However, even Islamic tradtion (which like all the traditions post-date Muhammad) assumed Meccan women before Islam could own substantial property (Khadija). As for other Arab cities, the indisputably sixth century Syriac sources about the Martyrs of Najran (Chronicle of Zacharias of Mitylene, John of Ephesus apud the Chronicle of Ps. Dionysius of Tel-Mahre) makes it clear that the main female martyr of Najran owned property apart from her husband. Thus the sources disprove your overgeneralization about “women before Islam.”
      As for your cherry-picked hadith ascribed to Muhammad about China, meant to portray Muhammad in anachronistically liberal tones, it does not derive from the canonical collections, while plenty of ahadith from the canonical collections present an extremely illiberal portrait (from a modern point of view) : such as Muhammad condoning the killing of apostates (Sahih Bukhari, vol. 9, bk. 88, no. 6922) or claiming that Muhammad supposedly consummated his marriage to Aisha when she was nine (Sahih Bukari, vol. 5. bk. 63, no. 3896; vol. 7, bk. 67, no. 5158). 
      BTW, the Koran does support your claim that Muhammad tried to stop female infanticide in his society, but so did the early Christian church & the late antique Jews. But the fact they worked against female infanticide doesn’t allow us to jail people because they make offensive art about Christians and Jews.

      • nafiss

        Again if you see Julian Assange from a different angle the dice is loaded.  I find it too simple to put a numeral: 9!!! How do we know?

  • Phadrus

    Here is a good definition of the responsibilities of a speaker in a society that has freedom of speech… or so it seems to me. To speak your truth, without fear or favor, and with some regard for the sensibilities of the listener.

  • baumgrenze

    I missed the last 30 minutes of the show, but took a moment to send this request to Michael:

    Please discuss with
    your guests the obvious connection between recent events in the Middle East and
    the agenda of the Project for the New American Century, the primitively naive
    notion that toppling existing regimes would lead to the flowering of stable democracies,
    modeled on and friendly in every way to the United States of America. There has
    been much discussion of the Herculean task the Obama administration has faced
    in dealing with the economic collapse fostered by the previous administration
    but far less of the legacy left in the Middle East by Bush’s neocon driven
    foreign policy.

  • utera

    I’m really tired of people holding muslims to a lower standard.  Just imagine for a second if jews were behaving like this.  The college campuses and academics would be boycotting israel and there would be no end to the screaming.  

    Their intolerance and quick resort to violence is part of their culture, and probably their religion, the fact that they aren’t held accountable for it only enables this bad behavior.  Its like the “boys will be boys” excuse, but oddly it only works for muslims.

    When comparing religions, yes some are more defective than others, these are ideologies created by man, and with islam, the prophet managed to mix military/state/religious power in a rather toxic way. You cannot say the same for jesus for instance, so this moral relativistic nonsense about all religions being the same as we shouldn’t judge is just mindless nonsense.  As an atheist i’m really tired of this game religious people play where they pretend if they dont call bs on another religion it protects themselves from scrutiny as well, and somehow its a game the rest of us are supposed to play along with as well, where everyone buys into the big lie together so they can continue with their superstition.

  • utera

    Very disappointed with how media commentators are speaking about this. Imagine for a second these were pro lifers who were slaughtering doctors and even the women in the clinics based on their “outrage” at abortion. Imagine for a second you spoke about this scenario where you couched all your statements by stating that “we all know” that abortion is murder and blabbity blah blah, but there is no justification for killing people over it, thats the level of nonsense i’ve heard all throughout general media in the last week.

    There is no justification for ceding ground to these extremists, their actions are unjustifiable by any reasoning. Their “offense” over superstition is not to be taken seriously to spoken about as if it has any credibility at all. You gave weight to their actions by legitimizing their taking offense, that is simply wrong

    I’m really tired of people having such low standards for people who are muslim or from the middle east.

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