The Free Press, Mankato, MN

State, national news

December 2, 2012

Minn. judge who visited Libya: Ambassador felt risks at U.S. consulate were worth it

ST. PAUL — Three months before U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens died when suspected Islamist militants stormed the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Minnesota Supreme Court Justice Paul Anderson, in Libya under the auspices of the American Bar Association to advise on rebuilding the country’s justice system, paid a courtesy call to the U.S. embassy in Tripoli.

Stevens, Anderson remembered in a recent interview, gave his visitor a sobering security rundown. Still, the ambassador encouraged Anderson to get out and mingle with Libyans. The judge recalled noticing how little protection the embassy in Tripoli had compared to those in other restive countries he’d visited on similar bar association assignments.

Anderson said that he and Stevens, a lawyer by training, developed a quick rapport and spent more than hour in a broad discussion that ran from constitutional law to the collapse of the police force in Libya. Stevens was well aware of the perils that surrounded him, Anderson said, but he was adamant that good diplomacy meant getting out of the fortresslike U.S. compounds that dot the Middle East.

“He was really upbeat, enthusiastic, about the potential for the future,” Anderson said. “His optimism was almost tangible, but I don’t think it was Pollyanna or rose-tinted. He knew the risks.”

In Washington, debate over the Sept. 11 Benghazi attacks continues to rage, centered largely on whether the Obama administration and its ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice, attempted to mislead the American public about what was known when she appeared on a series of Sunday morning talks shows five days later. The administration has since gone quiet, preferring to wait for the findings of a governmental review board that’s investigating the incident.

The partisan nature of the wrangling infuriates Anderson, who calls Stevens “an American hero” and who in the immediate aftermath of the Benghazi attacks wrote an essay for The Huffington Post website in which he defended Stevens for reaching out to Libyans in ways that were unconventional for American envoys, who more often are cloistered in heavily guarded compounds such as Baghdad’s notorious Green Zone.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
State, national news
  • Bills aim to improve English language instruction English language learners integrated into mainstream classrooms

    April 24, 2014

  • Allina drops celebrated birthing option MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Allina Health has pulled the drain plug on a celebrated birthing option at its 11 Minnesota hospitals and the Mother Baby Center in Minneapolis. Allina says it will no longer offer water births because of new guidance from the Ame

    April 24, 2014

  • Federal study finds mercury in trout caught in three Grand Canyon creeks PHOENIX — With their natural beauty and protected environments, the Grand Canyon and other national parks in the West would seem removed from having mercury in their streams and rivers. But a federal study found small levels of the contaminant in ra

    April 24, 2014

  • Post office sales fight grows SAN FRANCISCO — The Advisory Council on Historic Preservation has issued a report to Congress that criticizes the U.S. Postal Service’s disposal of historic properties and calls for a suspension of all sales until a host of recommendations are implem

    April 24, 2014

  • Lawmakers jockey over budget surpluses WASHINGTON — Less than 24 hours after the University of Kentucky men’s basketball team beat cross-state rival Louisville to advance to the Sweet 16, Lexington Mayor Jim Gray asked state lawmakers for $80 million to renovate Rupp Arena, the iconic bui

    April 23, 2014

  • Minn. lawmakers seek to enhance privacy protection ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Minnesota lawmakers are on the verge of cracking down on public employees who abuse their access to citizen data. A measure being negotiated in a House-Senate conference committee would do more to expose and punish data snoope

    April 23, 2014

  • Republican activists push party on gay marriage LAS VEGAS (AP) — As bans against gay marriage crumble and public opinion on the issue shifts rapidly, some Republicans are pushing the party to drop its opposition to same-sex unions, part of a broader campaign to get the GOP to appeal to younger vot

    April 23, 2014

  • mfp church abuse Archbishop deposition on abuse made public Archbishop John Nienstedt says no one reprimanded who handled abuse

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Legislature takes aim at new lottery games Legislators angry lottery didn't tell of new games

    April 22, 2014

  • NE ski resort extends season Lutsen still has two to four feet of snow on its runs

    April 22, 2014