J. Christopher Stevens
|10th United States Ambassador to Libya|
June 7, 2012 – September 12, 2012
|Preceded by||Gene Cretz|
|Succeeded by||Laurence Pope (Chargé d'affaires)|
|Born||John Christopher Stevens
April 18, 1960
Grass Valley, California, U.S.
|Died||September 12, 2012
|Alma mater||National War College|
John Christopher Stevens (April 18, 1960 – September 12, 2012) was an American diplomat and lawyer who served as the U.S. Ambassador to Libya from June 2012 to September 12, 2012. Stevens was killed when the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, was attacked by Islamic militants on September 11–12, 2012.
Early life and education
Stevens was born in 1960, in Grass Valley, California, the eldest of three siblings born to Jan S. Stevens, a California Assistant Attorney General, and his wife Mary J. Stevens née Floris, from a West Coast of the United States family of French, Swedish and Chinook ancestry. Stevens was raised in Northern California and had two younger siblings, Anne (b. 1962) and Thomas (b. 1965).
Stevens' parents divorced in 1975, and both remarried. He had a half-sister, Hilary (b. 1980), from his father's second marriage. His mother, a cellist, joined the Marin Symphony Orchestra (1969—2004), and in 1976 married Robert Commanday, a music critic with the San Francisco Chronicle.
Stevens was an AFS Intercultural Programs exchange student in Spain during summer of 1977, and graduated from Piedmont High School in 1978. He earned a B.A. in history in 1982 at the University of California, Berkeley, where he was a member of Alpha Tau Omega fraternity. From 1983 to 1985, he taught English as a Peace Corps volunteer in Morocco. He graduated with a J.D. from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law in 1989, and received an M.S. degree from the National War College in 2010.
Prior to joining the United States Foreign Service, Stevens was an international trade lawyer based in Washington, D.C. He was admitted as an active member of the State Bar of California on January 26, 1990; he went on inactive status on August 1, 1991, and remained an inactive member for the remainder of his career.
U.S. Foreign Service
Stevens joined the United States Foreign Service in 1991. His early overseas assignments included: deputy principal officer and political section chief in Jerusalem; political officer in Damascus; consular/political officer in Cairo and consular/economic officer in Riyadh. In Washington, Stevens served as Director of the Office of Multilateral Nuclear and Security Affairs; Pearson Fellow with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and Senator Richard Lugar; special assistant to the Under Secretary for Political Affairs; Iran desk officer and staff assistant in the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs.
He had served in Libya twice previously: as the Deputy Chief of Mission (from 2007 to 2009) and as Special Representative to the National Transitional Council (from March 2011 to November 2011) during the Libyan revolution. He arrived in Tripoli in May 2012 as the U.S. Ambassador to Libya.
Stevens spoke English, French and some Arabic.
Stevens was the first U.S. ambassador to die in office since the 1988 airplane crash in Pakistan which killed Arnold Lewis Raphel. Stevens was the eighth U.S. Ambassador to be killed in the line of duty. Obama Administration officials speculated that the attack was a spontaneous response to an online preview of a movie considered offensive to Muslims, but the attackers' use of military-grade weapons (including RPGs) and apparent knowledge of the secret safe house locations led to speculation that the raid was planned. Libyan officials suggested that it might have been a revenge attack mounted by loyalists (of deceased Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi) who were defeated in the Libyan civil war the previous year. Later reports suggested that the attack was coordinated and planned in advance, with any protests either coincidental or possibly diversionary. Libyan president Muhammad Magariaf blamed elements of Ansar al-Sharia for the killing, linking them to Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb. According to a Libyan-American witness, "There was no demonstration. They came with machine guns, with rockets."
One of the rocket propelled grenades reportedly created a fire in the main consulate building with three Americans inside-- Stevens, Sean Smith, and a security officer. According to U.S. officials, the security officer escaped and the staff found Smith dead. However, the staff were unable to locate Stevens before being driven from the building under small-arms fire. Stevens apparently became separated from his staff while trying to escape to the roof and was allegedly overcome by smoke inhalation. Local civilians found Stevens and brought him to the Benghazi Medical Centre in a state of cardiac arrest. Medical personnel tried to resuscitate him, but he was pronounced dead at about 2 a.m. local time on September 12, 2012. An official cause of death has not been determined.
The surviving Americans were taken to a safe house. A rescue squad consisting of eight U.S. military or former military was sent from Tripoli, the capital. They were ambushed and the safe house came under attack. Two more Americans died, including one sent from Tripoli; several were wounded. Later reports identified the victims as Tyrone S. Woods and Glen A. Doherty, both ex-Navy SEALs working as security and intelligence contractors.
According to the Daily Mail, Ambassador Stevens had sent out a diplomatic cable expressing concerns, on the day he was killed, that security at Benghazi was compromised. Stevens stated that two Libyan security groups were threatening to withdraw over a disagreement on U.S. policy whether centrist politician Mahmoud Jibril would become Libya's prime minister.
Three members of the team responsible for the Embassy's security, Kris (“Tanto”) Paronto, Mark (“Oz”) Geist, and John (“Tig”) Tiegen, believe that Stevens would have survived the attack had they not been delayed three times for thirty minutes by "Bob", the top CIA officer in Benghazi. After thirty minutes, they defied orders, requested armed air support, and proceeded to the embassy. Air support was not provided.
John Christopher Stevens is buried in his family's ancestral plot in Grass Valley, California.
- Arnold Lewis Raphel, the previous U.S. ambassador to die in the line of duty
- Ambassadors of the United States killed in the line of duty
- "New US Charge D'Affairs starts his work in Libya". KUNA. October 10, 2012. Retrieved October 12, 2012.
- "California birth index search". FamilyTreeLegends. Retrieved September 11, 2012.
- "US ambassador 'killed in Libya'". BBC News. September 11, 2012. Retrieved September 11, 2012.
- "Stevens, J. Christopher". U.S. Department of State. Retrieved September 11, 2012.
- Margaret Coker (September 11, 2012). "U.S. Ambassador to Libya Is Killed". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved September 11, 2012.
- "Stevens Remembered as a Man Who Cared Deeply for Libya". Salt Lake City Tribune. September 11, 2012.
- Jenny Monnet (28 September 2012). "Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens’ Mother Spells Out Family Legacy". Indian Country Today. Retrieved 18 August 2013. "Stevens was a 1/16th enrolled citizen of the Chinook Indian Nation"
- "Slain ambassador was member of local Chinook Tribe" Chinook Observer. September 13, 2012. Retrieved September 18, 2012.
- Matt Bewig (March 18, 2012). "Ambassador to Libya: Who Is Chris Stevens?". allgov. Retrieved September 11, 2012.
- The death of Chris Stevens, U.S. Ambassador to Libya, hits close to home.
- California Marriage Index, 1960–1985, accessed on ancestry.com on September 17, 2012
- "Slain Ambassador Chris Stevens was `A Very Smart, Very Funny Guy' says Cal Roommate Austin Tichenor". Napa Patch. September 11, 2012.
- Anita Creamer, The Sacramento Bee. "Slain U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens had Northern California roots". McClatchydc. Retrieved October 11, 2012.
- State Bar of California, Attorney Profile for John Christopher Stevens. Retrieved September 13, 2012.
- Bradley Klapper (12 September 2012). "Chris Stevens: US envoy to the Arab world". Associated Press. Retrieved 23 July 2014.
- "US ambassadors killed in the line of duty". Boston. Retrieved September 11, 2012.
- Andrew Hammond. "Libya official says Gaddafi loyalists killed U.S. diplomats". Reuters. Retrieved August 17, 2013.
- CBS/AP. "U.S. officials: Deadly Libya attack likely planned". CBS News. Retrieved September 11, 2012.
- Benghazi raid leaves cradle of Libyan revolution fearing for its future The Guardian September 21, 2012
- Hadeel Al Shalchi. "In Libya, deadly fury took U.S. envoys by surprise". Reuters. Retrieved September 13, 2012.
- Ambassador, victims got separated trying to escape to roof during attack. CNN September 11, 2012
- Kevin Dolak, Dean Schabner, Enjoli Francis and Anthony Castellano (September 11, 2012). "Ambassador to Libya Killed By 'Small and Savage Group'". ABC News. Retrieved September 11, 2012.
- Libya: Assault on U.S. consulate in Benghazi leaves 4 dead, including U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens CBS News September 11, 2012
- US confirms ambassador killed in Benghazi Libya BBC News September 11, 2012
- "Statement on the Deaths of Tyrone S. Woods and Glen A. Doherty in Benghazi, Libya". U.S. Department of State. September 13, 2012. Retrieved September 14, 2012.
- "Two SEAL vets from SD killed in Libya". U-T San Diego. Retrieved September 14, 2012.
- Gye, Hugo (October 8, 2012). "Revealed: Ambassador to Libya told officials of security worries on day he died in consulate raid as special forces chief says he asked for 'more not less' back-up month before attack". Daily Mail (UK). Retrieved October 10, 2012.
- "Top CIA officer in Benghazi delayed response to terrorist attack, US security team members claim". Fox News. 6 September 2014. Retrieved 7 September 2014.
Kirkpatrick, David (4 September 2014). "New Book Says C.I.A. Official in Benghazi Held Up Rescue". New York Times. Retrieved 7 September 2014.
Szoldra, Paul (4 September 2014). "New Book Claims Top CIA Officer In Benghazi Told Commandos To 'Stand Down' During Attack". Business Insider. Retrieved 7 September 2014.Baier, Bret (September 5, 2014). "Benghazi Bombshell: Security Team Told to 'Stand Down' By CIA Officer". FoxNewsInsider.com. Fox News Insider. Retrieved September 10, 2014.Zuckoff, Mitchell; Annex Security Team (five members) (September 9, 2014). 13 Hours: The Inside Account of What Really Happened In Benghazi. Hachette Book Group USA. ISBN 9781455582273.
- Introducing U.S. Ambassador to Libya, Chris Stevens on YouTube – U.S. Embassy Tripoli video
- J. Christopher Stevens at Find a Grave
- Memorial site