Secretary Clinton on Death of American on Flotilla: ‘Protecting the Welfare of American Citizens is a Fundamental Responsibility of Our Government’

Jun 3, 2010 5:42pm

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton confirmed Thursday that a U.S.-Turkish dual national, 19-year-old Furkan Dogan, was among the nine activists killed in the Israeli Defense Force raid on the flotilla in the Mediterranean Ocean Monday. 

Dogan was born in Troy, NY, and moved to Turkey when he was a toddler.

“Protecting the welfare of American citizens is a fundamental responsibility of our government and one that we take very seriously,” Clinton said. “We are in constant contact with the Israeli Government, attempting to obtain more information about our citizens.”

Clinton said that two other Americans had been injured, one on the flotilla and a third during a subsequent protest who remains hospitalized. 

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs Thursday said that “upon being told” that a U.S. citizen was among the dead, President Obama “expressed his deep condolences, and we certainly express our deep condolences to his family. Obviously, this is extremely horrible news for them.”

Administration officials were cautious in their language given the volatility of the situation and the ongoing investigation into what happened, but officials said privately that the death of a U.S. citizen changed the dynamic and raised the stakes for the U.S.

Some in the U.S. intelligence community cautioned that the flotilla was designed to provoke the Israeli military, and to break a blockade enforced by both Israel and Egypt to prevent arms from getting to Hamas in Gaza, a group designated as “terrorist” by the U.S. State Department.

Gibbs said that the U.S. Ambassador to Turkey Jim Jeffrey, had been in contact with Dogan’s father, Ahmet. 

“We’ve offered not only our heartfelt condolences but any kind of consular assistance that the family might need at this time,” Clinton said.

Gibbs reiterated that the U.S. had, along with the United Nations Security Council condemned the acts that led to these deaths, though the carefully and vaguely worded statement left it open to interpretation as to whether the IDF soldiers or the flotilla activists or both or neither were the ones whose “acts” were being condemned.

Clinton said that the U.S. government was “still gathering information about what happened” and had “made no decisions at this point on any additional specific actions that our government should take with respect to our own citizens.”

The Secretary of State reiterate the Obama administration’s called for the Israeli Government to “conduct a prompt, impartial, credible, and transparent investigation that conforms to international standards and gets to all the facts surrounding this tragic event,” an investigation that could include “appropriate international participation.”

– Jake Tapper

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