Congressional leaders swiftly condemned the deadly attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, but defense hawks in particular said now is not the time to back away from supporting democratic efforts in the Middle East.
"We are anguished and outraged," said a joint statement from three of the Senate's top defense leaders, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Sen. Joseph Lieberman, the independent from Connecticut. They called the slain U.S. ambassador, Chris Stevens, a friend.
"Despite this horrific attack, we cannot give in to the temptation to believe that our support for the democratic aspirations of people in Libya, Egypt, and elsewhere in the broader Middle East is naive or mistaken," said the three senators, who were among the most supportive of U.S. involvement in last year's Arab Spring movement and the armed uprising in Libya.
"We cannot resign ourselves to the false belief that the Arab Spring is doomed to be defined not by the desire for democracy and freedom that has inspired millions of people to peaceful action, but by the dark fanaticism of terrorists."