UPDATE 9/15/12: The Associated Press is reporting that a Los Angeles Sheriff is saying the flimmaker behind the controversial anti-Muslim online movie trailer is being investigated by federal authorities.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gave remarks to Moroccan leaders at the State Department on Thursday where she not only condemned but also blamed an online film that is offensive to Muslims for the attacks on American diplomatic missions in the middle east.
“Let me state very clearly and I hope it is obvious that the United States government had nothing to do with this video,” she said. “We absolutely reject its content and message. America’s commitment to religious tolerance goes back to the very beginning of our nation.” Florida Preacher Terry Jones, who gained international attention after threatening to burn Qurans on the ten year anniversary of 9/11 and was blamed was inciting anti-American protests in the middle east as a result, has promoted the film.
The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey has asked Florida preacher Terry Jones to disavow the film that is said to be causing anti-American riots at U.S. diplomatic missions in the Middle East. Politico reported:
“This was a brief call,” an Obama administration official told reporters Wednesday, adding that Dempsey discussed the “tensions it could inflame and the violence it could cause.” “He asked Pastor Jones to consider withdrawing his support for the film,” the administration official said, adding: “Mr. Jones did hear the chairman’s concerns but he was non-committal.”
“To us, to me personally, this video is disgusting and repressible,” Secretary Clinton also remarked. “It appears to have a deeply cynical purpose, to denigrate a great religion and to provoke rage. But as I said yesterday, there is no justification — none at all — for responding to this video with violence. We condemn the violence that has resulted in the strongest terms. And we greatly appreciate that many Muslims in the United States and around the world have spoken out on this issue,” she said.
Clinton, however, also noted that the United States cannot prohibit its citizens from producing material that others may find “distasteful” and that current technology has allowed films to be distributed in such a way that anyone in the world can access them.
Sec. Clinton’s statement on Thursday bring to light her address to the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) after the UN’s Human Rights Council passed resolution 16/18. The resolution was heavily promoted as a method to “combat religious intolerance.” In her remarks, Mrs. Clinton said: (bolding is mine)
The Human Rights Council has given us a comprehensive framework for addressing this issue on the international level. But at the same time, we each have to work to do more to promote respect for religious differences in our own countries. In the United States, I will admit, there are people who still feel vulnerable or marginalized as a result of their religious beliefs. And we have seen how the incendiary actions of just a very few people, a handful in a country of nearly 300 million, can create wide ripples of intolerance. We also understand that, for 235 years, freedom of expression has been a universal right at the core of our democracy. So we are focused on promoting interfaith education and collaboration, enforcing antidiscrimination laws, protecting the rights of all people to worship as they choose, and to use some old-fashioned techniques of peer pressure and shaming, so that people don’t feel that they have the support to do what we abhor.
Libya’s Ambassador to the United States Ali Aujali told Fox News host Greta Van Susteren that he wants to see the United Sates investigate the filmmaker, whom the federal authorities have just identified and Mr. Jones.
“I believe strongly that what’s behind this demonstration and the protests against the American embassies and all over in some countries is this movie,” said Amb. Aujali. “This movie is a humiliation to the history and to the Muslim and to the prophet. And this is a very delicate subject. But I believe now that Terry Jones and his colleague, the one who is responsible for this movie, to me, that they are terrorists just like anybody else, because they are responsible for what is happening in Benghazi,” he explained. “They are creating hatred among the people.”
However reports coming out are showing the attacks on the U.S. embassies were possibly pre-planned and may have been coordinated to happen on the anniversary of the September 11th attacks against the United States. U.S. officials are investigating this avenue.
Some are saying, though, that the movie is just being used as an excuse to attack American interests abroad. Senator Jon Kyl, Arizona Republican, told reporters on Wednesday that the apologetic response from the White House and State Department regarding the film was like blaming a rape victim:
“It’s like the judge telling the woman who got raped, ‘You asked for it because of the way you dressed.’ OK? That’s the same thing. ‘Well, America, you should be the ones to apologize, you should have known this would happen, you should have done – what I don’t know – but it’s your fault that it happened.’ You know, for a member of our State Department to put out a statement like that, it had to be cleared by somebody. They don’t just do that in the spur of the moment.”
“What is Terry Jones trying to get out of this movie? What I think the American government, or any government, when something has happened like this, and somebody is involved in a work or act or whatever lead to the killing or murder of other people, I think they should be investigated,” insisted Amb. Aujali.
The Justice Department confirmed on Thursday, according to USA Today, that it was investigating the figures connected to the controversial film as well as the deaths that happened at the American consulate in Benghazi.