Greg Hicks, former deputy chief of mission at the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli, told congressional investigators that the State Department’s internal review of the Benghazi attack “let people off the hook.” Hicks also contradicted the administration’s talking points that were making the Sunday news show rounds immediately following the attack.
Thus far, the State Department has placed blame on low-level staffers, despite evidence that the responsibility lies further up the ladder. Hicks told investigators that people are on administrative leave, pending disciplinary action, but that they are “below Senate confirmation level.” He went on to say that the Diplomatic Security assistant resigned but that “the paper trail is pretty clear that decisions were being made above his level.”
The administration’s claim that the attacks were the result of some out-of-control demonstration “caused” by a You Tube video was questioned by Hicks.
“I never reported a demonstration; I reported an attack on the consulate,” Hicks said. Stevens’ “last report, if you want to say his final report, is, ‘Greg, we are under attack.’
Hicks also questioned Ambassador Susan Rice’s talking points that made the rounds on numerous Sunday shows following the attack.
“You know, it’s jaw‑dropping that ‑‑ to me that ‑‑ how that came to be,” Hicks recalled. “And, you know, I knew ‑‑ I was personally known to one of (U.S.) Ambassador (to the United Nations Susan) Rice’s staff members. And, you know, we’re six hours ahead of Washington. Even on Sunday morning, I could have been called, and, you know, the phone call could have been, ‘hey, Greg, Ambassador Rice is going to say blah, blah, blah, blah,’ and I could have said, ‘no, that’s not the right thing.’ That phone call was never made.
Hicks said that “for there to have been a demonstration on Chris Stevens’ front door and him not to have reported it is unbelievable. And secondly, if he had reported it, he would have been out the back door within minutes of any demonstration appearing anywhere near that facility. And there was a back gate to the facility, and, you know, it worked.”
In direct contradiction with Rice’s talking points, Hicks is clear he thought the consulate was being attacked by terrorists. “I thought it was a terrorist attack from the get-go. I think everybody in the mission thought it was a terrorist attack from the beginning.”
Hicks will appear before the House Oversight Committee about the Benghazi attacks on Wednesday of this week.