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Obama says U.S. doing its utmost to protect Americans overseas

September 15, 2012|By Kathleen Hennessey
  • President Obama, backed by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, speaks during a ceremony at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., marking the return to the United States of the remains of the four Americans killed this week in Benghazi, Libya.
President Obama, backed by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton,… (Carolyn Kaster / Associated…)

President Obama sought to assure Americans that his administration is doing all it can to keep U.S. citizens abroad safe after four days of violent anti-American protests spread turmoil across the Muslim world.

"Right now, we are doing whatever we can to protect Americans who are serving abroad,” Obama said in his prerecorded weekly address released Saturday. “We are in contact with governments around the globe, to strengthen our cooperation, and underscore that every nation has a responsibility to help us protect our people.”

As Obama’s remarks were aired, Egyptian police had cleared demonstrators out of central Cairo after four days of angry and violent protests. The rioting began Tuesday in that city as well as Benghazi, Libya -- where the U.S. ambassador was killed in an armed attack on the U.S. consulate. By Friday, the unrest had spread across the Middle East, North Africa and into South Asia, in what it believed to be at least partially a response to an anti-Muslim video posted on YouTube.

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The Obama administration has sent Marines to boost security at diplomatic posts in Libya and Yemen, where protesters breached the U.S. Embassy in Sana on Thursday. The president has made phone calls to the leaders of Libya, Egypt and Yemen, the White House has said.

The White House also asked Google, the owner of YouTube, to review the film, which portrays the prophet Muhammad as a child molester, to ensure it did not violate policies. The company has blocked access in Libya and Egypt but not elsewhere.

“I have made it clear that the United States has a profound respect for people of all faiths,” Obama said in his remarks. “We stand for religious freedom. And we reject the denigration of any religion – including Islam. Yet there is never any justification for violence. There is no religion that condones the targeting of innocent men and women.”

Obama repeated his condolences for the families of four Americans killed in the Benghazi attack, Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, foreign service office Sean Smith and security personnel Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods.

“These four Americans represented the very best of our country,” Obama said, noting that Doherty and Woods had served as Navy SEALs.

“They died as they lived their lives – defending their fellow Americans, and advancing the values that all of us hold dear.”

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Twitter: @khennessey

kathleen.hennessey@latimes.com

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