Three whistle-blowers sharply criticized the Obama administration’s response before, during and after the Benghazi terror attack, during emotional and revealing testimony Wednesday that could serve to re-open questions about that deadly night.
In hours of testimony, the witnesses recounted in great detail what happened in eastern Libya on Sept. 11 and how U.S. personnel came under a series of attacks that left four Americans dead. Though Democratic officials have argued the attack has been thoroughly investigated and that the hearing Wednesday was political in nature, the claims challenged several long-standing assertions by the Obama administration.
The witnesses criticized the lax security at the Benghazi site in the run-up to the attack, and suggested the military did not do all it could to respond to the scene that night despite claims to the contrary. Despite initial claims by the administration that the attack was triggered by protests over an anti-Islam film — and subsequent claims that the flawed statement was based on the intelligence at the time — one whistle-blower said it was evident from the start the attack was terrorism.
“The YouTube video was a non-event in Libya,” testified Greg Hicks, the deputy chief of mission in Libya who became the top U.S. diplomat in the country after Ambassador Chris Stevens was killed. Hicks said the only information coming out of his team was that there was an “attack” on the consulate.
Hicks also revealed that it appeared some were trying to lure even more U.S. personnel into a separate “ambush” while the attack was still being carried out. He described how, as diplomatic officials were trying to find out what happened to Stevens, they were receiving phone calls from supposed tipsters saying they knew where the ambassador was and urging Americans to come get him.
“We suspected that we were being baited into a trap,” Hicks said, adding that he did not want to send anybody into what he suspected was an “ambush.”
Getting choked up, Hicks described how the Libyan prime minister later called him to tell him Stevens was in fact dead. “I think it’s the saddest phone call I’ve ever had in my life,” he said.
At the very beginning of the attack, before Stevens went missing and was later found dead, Hicks said his team believed it was terrorism. He said a regional security officer rushed into his villa yelling, “Greg, Greg, the consulate’s under attack.”
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