Greg Hicks, the former deputy chief of mission at the U.S. Embassy in Libya testified in front of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee today. The title of the hearings was “Benghazi: Exposing Failure and Recognizing Courage.”
Several eye-raising statements have been released from Hicks hearing. Hicks told the committee that he was forbidden from speaking to Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) in isolation. Chaffetz traveled to Libya after the September 11, 2012 attack on the embassy in Benghazi in order to investigate what occurred during the attack. Hicks testified today that a State Department lawyer accompanied Chaffetz throughout every part of his investigation, preventing Hicks and Chaffetz from ever speaking privately.
In October, Chaffetz said the attorney “followed me in my every footstep”.
Hicks also said he received intimidating calls from top Hillary Clinton advisor Cheryl Mills.
Early in the hearing, Hicks said military personnel were in fact ordered to stand down during the Benghazi attacks, and that the personnel were furious when they received the order.
“How did the personnel react at being told to stand down?” asked Chaffetz.
"They were furious,” Hicks said. “I can only say, well I will quote Lieutenant Colonel Gibson who said, ‘This is the first time in my career that a diplomat has more balls than somebody in the military.’”
Hicks indicated there were no signs of protest in Benghazi that day, contrary to the claim that has been made by the Obama administration.
“Was there any evidence when you were there in Libya on that day that this was a protest?” asked Rep. McHenry (R-NC)
“No there was none and I'm confident Ambassador Stevens would have reported a protest immediately if one appeared on his door,” Hicks said. “The protocol was of course for us to evacuate immediately from the consulate and move to the annex.”
Hicks later said he takes issue with the State Department’s stance that it does not matter whether the attack was spontaneous or planned.
“I think the question is, what difference did it make? President Magariaf was insulted in front of his own people, in front of the world. His credibility was reduced (because of Rice’s comments),” he said.
“And I definitely believe that it negatively affected our ability to get the FBI team quickly to Benghazi,” Hicks added.
Hicks, who was the top official in Libya after ambassador Chris Stevens was killed during the attack, said U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice failed to speak with him before going on her media tour in which she tried to clarify what happened in Benghazi. Hicks accuses Rice of spreading a “demonstrably false narrative” about the attacks.
“I was stunned, my jaw dropped and I was embarrassed,” Hicks said.
The potentially huge implications of Hicks testimony had many people concerned for his safety leading up to today’s hearings. Several representatives, both Democrat and Republican, vowed to protect and support Hicks in the event of any threat or pressure from the State Department.
"You have my personal pledge that were there ever to be any hint at retaliation or retribution for your willingness to come forth and tell your version of what happened, this member of Congress will intervene on your behalf," said Democratic Rep. Gerry Connolly of Virginia.