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U.S. Ambassador To Libya, Three Other Americans Killed In Benghazi Attack

Above: A vehicle and the surrounding area are engulfed in flames after it was set on fire inside the US consulate compound in Benghazi late on September 11, 2012.

U.S. Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens supported Libya's transition to democracy.
Enlarge this image

Above: U.S. Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens supported Libya's transition to democracy.

U.S. Ambassadors Killed By Terrorists

According to the State Department Office of the Historian, five U.S. ambassadors have been killed by terrorists:

—Adolph Dubs, in Afghanistan, 1979

—Francis E. Meloy Jr., in Lebanon, 1976

—Rodger P. Davies, in Cyprus, 1974

—Cleo A. Noel Jr., in Sudan, 1973

—John Gordon Mein, in Guatemala, 1968

Two other U.S. ambassadors have died in plane crashes:

—Arnold L. Raphel, in Pakistan, 1988

—Laurence A. Steinhardt, in Canada, 1950

The U.S. ambassador to Libya and three other Americans were killed in an attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi by protesters angry over a film that ridiculed Islam's Prophet Muhammad.

Ambassador Chris Stevens, 52, died as he and a group of embassy employees went to the consulate to try to evacuate staff as the building came under attack by a mob firing machine-guns and rocket-propelled grenades. He was the first U.S. ambassador to be killed in the line of duty since 1979.

President Obama ordered increased security to protect U.S. diplomatic personnel around world.

"I strongly condemn the outrageous attack on our diplomatic facility in Benghazi," Obama said, adding the four Americans "exemplified America's commitment to freedom, justice, and partnership with nations and people around the globe."

The attack in Libya came hours after Egyptian protesters climbed the walls of the U.S. Embassy in Cairo, pulling down the American flag and temporarily replacing it with a black Islamic banner.

The brazen assaults the first on U.S. diplomatic facilities in either country underscored the lawlessness that has taken hold in both Egypt and Libya after revolutions ousted their autocratic secular regimes and upended the tightly controlled police state in both countries. Islamists long repressed under the previous regimes have emerged as a powerful force but new governments in both nations are struggling to achieve stability.

Egypt's police, a onetime hated force blamed for massive human rights abuses, have yet to fully take back the streets after Hosni Mubarak's ouster in February 2011. On Tuesday, riot police stood by the embassy's walls but continued to allow protesters to climb them for several hours.

The uproar over the film also poses a new test for Egypt's new Islamist president, Mohammed Morsi, who has yet to condemn the riot outside the U.S. Embassy in Cairo or say anything about the offending film. The protest was by mostly ultraconservative Islamists.

The film was produced by a California filmmaker who identifies himself as both American and Israeli. The film was being promoted by an extreme anti-Muslim Egyptian Christian campaigner in the United States. Excerpts from the film dubbed into Arabic were posted on YouTube.

Ultraconservative Islamists also were suspected of being behind the Benghazi attack. Advocating a strict interpretation of Islam, they have bulldozed Sufi shrines and mosques that house tombs in the Libyan capital, Tripoli, and other cities, including ancient sites dating back to 5,000 years ago.

Heavily armed, ultraconservative groups like Ansar al-Shariah, or Supporters of Shariah, have claimed responsibility for the attacks on the shrines, declaring Sufi practices as "heretical."

Libya has been also hit by a series of recent attacks that served as evidence of the deep and persistent security vacuum in the country after the fall of Moammar Gadhafi's regime, which was ousted by rebels backed by a NATO air campaign. Many Libyans believe that unrest in their country is in part the work of Gadhafi's loyalists who want to undermine efforts to rebuild the country after last year's ruinous civil war.

Video

Introducing U.S. Ambassador to Libya, Chris Stevens

Stevens was a career diplomat who spoke Arabic and French and had already served two tours in Libya, including running the office in Benghazi during the revolt against Gadhafi. He was confirmed as ambassador to Libya by the Senate earlier this year.

Before Tuesday, five U.S. ambassadors had been killed in the line of duty, the last being Adolph Dubs in Afghanistan in 1979, according to the State Department historian's office.

Muslims find it offensive to depict Muhammad in any fashion, much less in an insulting way. The 2005 publication of 12 caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad in a Danish newspaper triggered riots in many Muslim countries.

A 14-minute trailer of the movie that sparked the protests, posted on the website YouTube in an original English version and another dubbed into Egyptian Arabic, depicts Muhammad as a fraud, a womanizer and a madman in an overtly ridiculing way, showing him having sex and calling for massacres.

The website's guidelines call for removing videos that include a threat of violence, but not those that only express opinions. YouTube's practice is not to comment on specific videos.

Sam Bacile, a 56-year-old California real estate developer who identifies himself as an Israeli Jew and who said he produced, directed and wrote the two-hour film, "Innocence of Muslims," said he had not anticipated such a furious reaction.

Speaking by phone from an undisclosed location, Bacile, who went into hiding Tuesday, remained defiant, saying Islam is a cancer and that he intended his film to be a provocative political statement condemning the religion.

Bacile said he believes the movie will help his native land by exposing Islam's flaws to the world. "Islam is a cancer, period," he repeatedly said in a solemn, accented tone.

Israel, however, sought to distance itself from Bacile.

"It's obvious we'll have to be vigilant. Anything he did or said has nothing to do whatsoever with Israel. He may claim what he wants. This was not done with or for or through Israel." Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said on Wednesday.

Comments

Avatar for user 'benz72'

benz72 | September 12, 2012 at 7:06 a.m. ― 1 year, 10 months ago

Apparently there are a number of angry Libyans (and Egyptians) lacking five and a half millimeter holes. Perhaps next time they are upset by a film and overreact by assaulting an embassy we will be better prepared to supply them.

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Avatar for user 'aztec69'

aztec69 | September 12, 2012 at 8:29 a.m. ― 1 year, 10 months ago

And all over the world millions of muslims are thinking, "Now's payback time for bin Laden's killing." Remember, those who live by the sword will die by the sword."

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Avatar for user 'randolphslinky'

randolphslinky | September 12, 2012 at 9:17 a.m. ― 1 year, 10 months ago

So unfortunate, but just another example of how difficult it is to help and have normal relations with the people in this region of the world when they are so steeped in religious fanaticism. 11 years after 9-11, and while we haven’t had planes fly into our buildings since, we must not forget that Islam is a volatile faith capable of violence over the smallest of offenses.
Is it really any wonder why so many of their leaders are brutal in their methods of maintaining population control? Animals deserve animals.

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Avatar for user 'llk'

llk | September 12, 2012 at 11:35 a.m. ― 1 year, 10 months ago

If a muslim does something bad, christians will say it's because islam is a bad religion. If a muslim does something good, christians will never say it's because islam is a good religion.

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Avatar for user 'llk'

llk | September 12, 2012 at 11:58 a.m. ― 1 year, 10 months ago

I'm glad I live in America, where we're free to reject religion on the grounds that it is useless nonsense, and not live in fear of persecution for that opinion.

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Avatar for user 'Missionaccomplished'

Missionaccomplished | September 12, 2012 at 12:49 p.m. ― 1 year, 10 months ago

@AP, If Egypt was lawless, I don't think they would have been able to carry out elections.

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Avatar for user 'Missionaccomplished'

Missionaccomplished | September 12, 2012 at 1:04 p.m. ― 1 year, 10 months ago

@Azztec69, why would "now" be the time for payback? Your statement makes no sense.

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Avatar for user 'Missionaccomplished'

Missionaccomplished | September 12, 2012 at 1:51 p.m. ― 1 year, 10 months ago

@Dolphshinksy, people are NOT "steeped" in religious fanaticism in North Africa or the Middle East. That there are fanatics, there is no question. But as to your first statement, you are incorrect. People like you conveniently forget that Saddam Hussein was a secularist as was Mubarak, Qadaffi, the FLN in Algeria and the king of Morocco, or Ben Ali in Tunisia. The army, which has played a major role in Egyptian politics since the ouster of the monarcy, has ALWAYS been secular.

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Avatar for user 'benz72'

benz72 | September 12, 2012 at 2:50 p.m. ― 1 year, 10 months ago

Regardless of whether the impetus was secular/political or mystical, the act is unacceptable and should be severely punished.

Aztec, if we are going to debate by quote I'll submit this one for you to consider
"If someone has a gun and is trying to kill you, it would be reasonable to shoot back with your own gun.” Dali Lama XIV

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Avatar for user 'randolphslinky'

randolphslinky | September 12, 2012 at 3:58 p.m. ― 1 year, 10 months ago

@mission - I never said the leaders in these regions had themselves to be fanatical Muslims, but their methods of controling such a population in light of how socially backwards these people are don't surprise me. You're always the apologist for religion, and even for the most extreme behavior that is so frequent within this particular faith. No other religious group makes the news for such behavior and neither at such frequency. I well knew Sadam was a secularist, I was serving in the military at the time and got into trouble for suggesting that getting rid of him (despite his brutality) might open the door for chaos between the fanatics - guess I might know what I'm talking about. I also predicted the collapse would strengthen Iran. People too often are ignorant of the social climate in these places and think that you can apply "our" ideas easily and readily in them - we assume too much, and need to be informed and realistic, examine the facts, the history, and preferably, stay out of the region as much as possible. If they want freedom and democracy, then let them fight for it themselves. We have to stop being involved even when asked by them because later they don't appreciate it, and we only wind up getting sucker punched again in the nose later as soon as (fill in the blank) dictator is removed. I for one have had enough of it. The Libyan government should have not allowed our Embassy to be attacked in this way - they are almost always too passive when it comes to dealing with their masses getting too riled up over slights to their faith. Grow up, evolve people.

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Avatar for user 'CaliforniaDefender'

CaliforniaDefender | September 13, 2012 at 10:21 a.m. ― 1 year, 10 months ago

"I'm glad I live in America, where we're free to reject religion on the grounds that it is useless nonsense, and not live in fear of persecution for that opinion." - IlK

I fully agree. But you must add an asterisk to that statement:

*Unless you run for public office.

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Avatar for user 'CaliforniaDefender'

CaliforniaDefender | September 13, 2012 at 11:10 a.m. ― 1 year, 10 months ago

The death the ambassador and his staff is a direct result of ineptitude and corruption in the White House which includes Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, George W Bush, Condoleezza Rice, and Colin Powell.

They have collectively left a trail of failed foreign policy, instigation of violent unrest, arms deals, militarization, invasions, and war that has resulted in a less stable and chaotic world.

Perhaps that is great for the defense industry, but terrible for everyone else.

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Avatar for user 'llk'

llk | September 13, 2012 at 11:27 a.m. ― 1 year, 10 months ago

I'd say that it's more directly a result of the people that actually murdered them, but what do I know.

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Avatar for user 'Missionaccomplished'

Missionaccomplished | September 17, 2012 at 8:25 a.m. ― 1 year, 10 months ago

@RANDOLPH, not an apologist, just fair and always putting the march of events in their proper socio-historical-political context.

It is as Edward Said wrote, you can write and get away with things about Muslims that you could not with any other group.

And he wrote that back in 1981.

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Avatar for user 'Missionaccomplished'

Missionaccomplished | September 17, 2012 at 8:31 a.m. ― 1 year, 10 months ago

The first report by the UT (AP) was that a Libyan doctor who had examined Stevens, died of asphyxiation or smoke inhalation. The doctor found no injuries on his body. If this is true, and I have not come across anything that directly contradicts this, then the media is certainly being not just irresponsible but flat out lying in saying that he was murdered.

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Avatar for user 'Missionaccomplished'

Missionaccomplished | September 17, 2012 at 8:38 a.m. ― 1 year, 10 months ago

@RANDOLPH, one other thing, it was not that "fanatics" would be fighting in a post-Saddam Iraq, BUT that overthrowing his regime would create a power vaccum, which it did. But the neocons in DC couldn't/wouldn't see that, much as they tried to groom their pick, Ahmed Chalabi, a wanted man in Jordan. So yeah, I guess one can say you are wiser than the neocons--which really doesn't take much.

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Avatar for user 'benz72'

benz72 | September 17, 2012 at 12:42 p.m. ― 1 year, 10 months ago

MA, deadly asphyxiation and smoke inhalation that result from arson can reasonable be considered murder.

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Avatar for user 'JeanMarc'

JeanMarc | September 17, 2012 at 3:11 p.m. ― 1 year, 10 months ago

For once, I agree with something Ilk said.

Blaming US politicians? So if I wear a short skirt and get raped, is the rapist blameless?

It is not acceptable to kill people because you are angry about a video on youtube. That is utterly stupid, just like these animals who never learned to control their tempers.

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Avatar for user 'randolphslinky'

randolphslinky | September 18, 2012 at 1:17 p.m. ― 1 year, 10 months ago

@mission - Really, you agree with Edward Said that we can get away with writing things about Muslims that we could not with any other group? Really? I'd say just the opposite is true. You draw a cartoon, make a video or movie, write a book, even translate the book that supposedly speaks negatively about Islam and you'll have a Fatwa on your head. They kill people routinely over the slightest things. No other religious group in the world behaves in this manner in response to criticism or mockery of their faith. There are numerous skits, movies, blogs, and organizations that routinely do so to Christianity and Christians don’t then riot, burn down buildings and kill people over it. Islam is out of control, and the civilized world shouldn’t play their game of backing off just because they can’t handle it. I would no more placate them than I would a child throwing a tantrum.

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Avatar for user 'JeanMarc'

JeanMarc | September 18, 2012 at 3:41 p.m. ― 1 year, 10 months ago

Well said buddy! Backing off, giving in, is NOT the right way to deal with these animals. It is exactly like giving a screaming, disobedient 3 year old candy while begging them to stop. They need to stop killing people for having a contradictory opinion, or be killed themselves.

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Avatar for user 'benz72'

benz72 | September 19, 2012 at 7:26 a.m. ― 1 year, 10 months ago

RS, that is certainly true now, but you do not have to look back very far to see protestants and catholics murdering each other in the name of the 'one true faith'. Cultural changes take time and are painful, let's just make sure that their shift is less painful for us than it is for them.

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Avatar for user 'Missionaccomplished'

Missionaccomplished | September 19, 2012 at 9:59 a.m. ― 1 year, 10 months ago

Come on Randolph, don't skirt to issue. Said is talking about how Islam is perceive in the U.S. by uninformed Americans. Particulary the media which has long perpetrated strong, inflamatory visual cliche's. Remember, it wasn't until late 1979 that militant Muslims struck directly at a US institutions. Neither Said nor myself are talking about how Islam is perceived in Europe. Nor are we talking about the reactions in the Muslims countries themselves to cynical Western mockery.

I can show you many examples, and many more where Muslim and Arab are incorrectly viewed interchangeably. We've had TV programs like 24 and there is AM hate Radio. And what about that recent Peter King commission? Or have you suddenly and CONVENIENTLY forgotten at whom our index fingers first pointed at when the OK bomb went off? And what about all that opposition to the New York City mosque? Are you going to tell me there wouldn't be mass protests if the targets were blacks, Latinos, Jews or Christians? So I really think it is disengenous on your part to write what you write.

ou write "they kill routinely" as if the general world population of Muslims were homicidal! That is such an absurd statement. It would be laughable if it wasn't so cruel.

You are VERY correct about the anti-Christian propaganda--be it Bill Maher or that new "horror" TV series which mocks Catholic clergy to name two recent examples. (Let slip a quip about gays and lose your right to direct the Academy Awards.) But the fact that there are not riots or demonstrations has more to due with your post-modern complacency and the fact that institional religions doesn't play the same role in the USA as it does in these other cultures. Plus the fact that some of these churches have hurt themselves with sexual or financial scandals. You DON'T hear that about Muslims. (The Left mocks the Right and the Right ALWAYS thinks it's right, said Bono.) But why are you sooo concerned with Chritians? Didn't you say on a past post that you are atheist so I am puzzled.

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Avatar for user 'benz72'

benz72 | September 19, 2012 at 11:01 a.m. ― 1 year, 10 months ago

There is a significant difference between the truth content and acceptability of these two statements;

Most muslims are terrorists who target US interests

Most terrorists who target US interests are muslims

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Avatar for user 'randolphslinky'

randolphslinky | September 19, 2012 at 11:06 a.m. ― 1 year, 10 months ago

@mission - Who is skirting the issue?The issue is that whenever Muslims are offended in the slightest there's a good chance an American Embassy will be attacked and people will die. No other religious group TODAY (very important people) behaves with such extreme reaction. Here's why this is so important that we talk about the present time specifically and stop referring to what happened hundreds of years ago or between two groups whose violence was mostly limited to Northern Ireland. Islam is a global threat - violence has happened in our recent history and continues to happen against anyone that voices any public dissent about this faith. Often the apologists for this faith like to say it's only the extremists that are doing this, millions of Muslims are peaceful. Good point, but the so called "moderates" aren't stopping the extremists, and the Muslim clerics that one would think you could count on to be more active in subduing the reactions of the faithful are too often talking out of both sides of their mouths. Islam isn’t to be toyed with, and I don’t mean we should run from it, or “submit” to its outlandish demands – I mean the day this very small minority of so called extremists get their hands on a nuke, a dirty bomb, or a chemical or biological agent it's over. Unlike past close calls between the West and the Soviet Union there won't be any rationalizing with the zealots. That is the issue - we best wake up to the reality of it.

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Avatar for user 'llk'

llk | September 19, 2012 at 11:16 a.m. ― 1 year, 10 months ago

So, slinky, you feel that islam is a global threat but christianity is not. What do you propose we DO about it? How would you like to see policy (domestic or foreign) change to reflect your own personal views?

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Avatar for user 'Missionaccomplished'

Missionaccomplished | September 19, 2012 at 1:20 p.m. ― 1 year, 10 months ago

@BENZ,

"Not ALL Jews are Communists but EVERY Communist is a Jew."
-- popular rightwing saying in Vichy France

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Avatar for user 'benz72'

benz72 | September 19, 2012 at 1:43 p.m. ― 1 year, 10 months ago

MA, I've never heard that before. I also find it very difficult to believe. Of course I've never been to France either, so I suppose it is possible that all the communists in Vichy are jewish, but it is unlikely.

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Avatar for user 'JeanMarc'

JeanMarc | September 19, 2012 at 2:07 p.m. ― 1 year, 10 months ago

Every communist is a Jew? Well, that is news to me. I didn't realize there were so many Jews in China, Cuba, etc.

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Avatar for user 'benz72'

benz72 | September 19, 2012 at 2:35 p.m. ― 1 year, 10 months ago

Perhaps it is only local to one city in France?

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Avatar for user 'llk'

llk | September 19, 2012 at 3:14 p.m. ― 1 year, 10 months ago

Better get to the bottom of this super important debate, you guys!

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Avatar for user 'randolphslinky'

randolphslinky | September 19, 2012 at 3:21 p.m. ― 1 year, 10 months ago

@llk - In my opinion, Christianity, Judaism, and Islam all create problems for the world, but the first two have been tempered by modernity and therefore are for the most part, less threatening to world stability. Islam on the other hand, at least in countries where those beliefs dominate, has not changed much with the passage of time and that is why it’s so out of step with the rest of the modern world. It's a complex subject as to what to do domestically and internationally about Islam. My ideas might surprise you, but I don't care to get into the weeds on this at this time. I've said enough. Stay tuned, maybe another time. ;)

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Avatar for user 'HarryStreet'

HarryStreet | September 19, 2012 at 3:34 p.m. ― 1 year, 10 months ago

Protestors are not demonstrating how devoted they are to their God, but rather how easily swayed they can be to follow in the footsteps of satan when a few ignorant people defame their religion.

Think of the impact and empathy these protestors could have received the world over had they banded together and prayed for their God to forgive the makers of the film in question. Do they really expect the world to sympathize with them when they turn to violence and murder? Not only are they ignorant of their own religion, but morally incompetent.

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Avatar for user 'llk'

llk | September 19, 2012 at 4:16 p.m. ― 1 year, 10 months ago

How exciting, someone's got secret ideas about what to do regarding The Muslim Problem! Can't wait to find out what it is, although I have a hunch it's not likely to be constitutional. I guess I'll just have to meet you somewhere we can speak freely, slinky, like in a dark alley, and I can find out for myself.

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Avatar for user 'Missionaccomplished'

Missionaccomplished | September 19, 2012 at 11:02 p.m. ― 1 year, 10 months ago

BENZ & MARC JEAN, mmmaybe do a little research.

See the 1965 French movie DIARY OF A CHAMBERMAID as well. You will be surprised.

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Avatar for user 'Missionaccomplished'

Missionaccomplished | September 19, 2012 at 11:06 p.m. ― 1 year, 10 months ago

Slinsky, first you cry that Christianity is under attack in the media, internet, etc., then the next day you say it is a "threat."

Will the real Slinsky please stop posting--I mean--stand up?

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Avatar for user 'benz72'

benz72 | September 20, 2012 at 6:53 a.m. ― 1 year, 10 months ago

MA, I have lost interest in your obscure and tangential commentary on this issue. Have a nice day.

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Avatar for user 'DeLaRick'

DeLaRick | September 20, 2012 at 12:35 p.m. ― 1 year, 10 months ago

Murder is never justified, but we should be more respectful of our adversaries. You would think that we would've learned that over the last 10 YEARS. Our foreign policy in the Middle East is not pragmatic enough. Can't believe we're still trying to "change" or "save them."

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Avatar for user 'Missionaccomplished'

Missionaccomplished | September 20, 2012 at 2:08 p.m. ― 1 year, 10 months ago

Well Benz, just do the research. It was a popular saying, kinda like "work makes free" was a slogan used by the Nazis at the death camps. Watch DIARY or google its imbd DIARY OF CHAMBERMAID quotes.

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