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

(Continued)

ST. PAUL —

A first draft of the essay had to be toned down, Anderson said, because his anger overshadowed the points he wanted to make about Stevens’ legacy.

“He was not careless. He was not cavalier. He was realistic, but he made some very pragmatic decisions,” Anderson said. “We will always have people who take risks on behalf of our country because they think it’s worth it.”

Since then, Anderson has become more contemplative about Stevens’ take on security and finds himself mulling his own conduct in Libya: a senior American jurist cruising Tripoli streets in an ordinary car with a local driver — without bodyguards or weapons.

“You’re there doing good, and because you’re doing the right thing, you feel a certain kind of immunity,” Anderson said. “Well, that’s not the way it is, of course.”

It was easy to feel welcome in Libya, Anderson recalled, despite signs of declining security. Just a week before his arrival in June, a disgruntled militia seized control of the Tripoli airport. But Anderson decided to stick with his plans, and he felt vindicated when the passenger next to him on the plane into Tripoli thanked him for American support in the NATO intervention that was vital to the rebel victory over former leader Moammar Gadhafi.

The gratitude was even more remarkable, Anderson said, because of the man’s story: The fellow passenger was an oil worker whose brother, a physician in Colorado, had flown back to Libya to fight with the rebels and was killed by NATO forces, who’d mistaken his unit for regime loyalists because they’d just captured a government tank.

“He’d lost his own brother, and he said, ‘Our country is grateful because so many other people would’ve died if you hadn’t intervened,’” Anderson recalled.

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