KELLI KENNEDY Associated Press
In the wake of attacks that killed four Americans at the U.S. Consulate in Libya, former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said Thursday the U.S. government must stress that Americans treasure their freedom of speech, but they need to be mindful of how they exercise that freedom.
She said that would require empathetic dialogue on both sides: explaining to Americans that the group who set fire to the Libyan embassy doesn't represent the entire country; and schooling Muslims in the Middle East to understand that just because an inflammatory video pops up on the Internet, doesn't mean the U.S. government agrees with the values it expresses.
"That is part of what responsible people have to do is say there are always, in every country, some who take advantage of a value system to press their own agenda and that doesn't represent everybody," Albright told a group of nearly two dozen women at a Jewish community center in South Florida on Thursday.
Albright, who was the first female secretary of state under former Pres. Bill Clinton, compared such incendiary expressions to whether one has the right to yell "fire" in a crowded theater, knowing the violence it may cause. She served as secretary in 1998 during attacks at embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.
"I am deeply troubled by whatever role the video had in this ... if we expect to be respected, we need to respect other religions," she said.
Albright said the U.S. should continue to support democracy in Libya and Egypt and find ways to create jobs and enhance that economy so young, jobless Libyan men are not an easy recruiting target for extremists.
"We need to be supportive of those who are searching and seeking for democratic ways of operating and we can't expect results immediately."
Albright was in South Florida stumping for President Barack Obama in a two-day stop, emphasizing "that Florida is the key" for winning the election and that "women in Florida make a huge difference."
She defended the Obama administration's commitment to Israel, and criticized GOP Presidential nominee Mitt Romney for his attacks on the administration.
"When Romney says that President Obama threw Israel under the bus I don't know what he's talking about," said Albright, highlighting Obama's commitment to the "Iron Dome" system to intercept shorter-range rockets that might be launched against Israel by Palestinian and Hezbollah militants.
"Gov. Romney says he would do the exact opposite," she said.
13 Sep 2012
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