Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Hillary Clinton's Chief of Staff Told Greg Hicks Not to Talk to Congress

At the Wall Street Journal, "The Benghazi Awakening":

Miracles happen, and even the sleepy Washington press corps seems to have paid some attention to Wednesday's House hearing on the attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission last September in Benghazi. What they and the public heard is the beginning of a real accounting for a security failure that killed four Americans.

We say "beginning" because the entire story still isn't clear, in particular the roles played by then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and President Obama before and after the attack. But the hearing led by House Republicans, amid months of media sneering, gave the civil servants who were on duty that September night a chance to give their side of the story.

Gregory Hicks, the former deputy chief of mission at the embassy in Tripoli, recalled his last conversation with Ambassador Christopher Stevens, who told him, "Greg, we're under attack." Mr. Hicks said he knew then that Islamists were behind the assault. In other words, U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice's public claim at the time that an anti-Islam YouTube video spurred the assault was known inside the government to be false when she and White House spokesman Jay Carney said it.

Mr. Hicks said he briefed Mrs. Clinton that night, yet the father of victim Tyrone Woods says she later told him that the YouTube video maker would be "prosecuted and arrested" as if he were responsible for Benghazi. Stranger still, Mrs. Hicks says Mrs. Clinton's then chief of staff, Cheryl Mills, ordered him not to give solo interviews about the attack to a visiting Congressional delegation. Aficionados of the Clinton Presidency will recall Ms. Mills as one of Bill Clinton's impeachment lawyers.

After Stevens and an aide were killed at the mission, the militias turned on the CIA annex nearby. On the advice of the military attaché in Tripoli, Mr. Hicks said he asked for U.S. fighter planes to fly over the complex in an attempt to scare the attackers away. Libyans had seen U.S. air power during the NATO military intervention in 2011 and might have fled. But Mr. Hicks was told no planes were available. Early the next morning, two Americans died in a mortar attack on the CIA compound.

The Pentagon says no F-16s were on call that night, but why not? Why weren't contingency plans in place? The State Department's supposedly independent review panel said in December that "there simply was not enough time for armed U.S. military assets to have made a difference." The review blamed lower level officials for the security failure and didn't even bother to interview Mrs. Clinton. Mr. Hicks says he was "effectively demoted" after Benghazi from "deputy chief of mission to desk officer."

Mr. Hicks also revealed that four special forces soldiers at the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli were ordered by U.S. African command not to join a State team headed to Benghazi. The soldiers were the remaining parts of a 16-member security team that had been pulled from Tripoli the previous month. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Martin Dempsey recently told another House panel that the African command stopped no one from aiding those besieged in Benghazi. That contradicts Mr. Hicks's account....

The immediate press spin on Wednesday's hearing is that there was no "smoking gun" proof of a cover-up, as if that is the only reason to find out what happened. It's clear enough already that senior Administration officials knew in September they had a politically potent debacle on their hands and did their best to delay and obfuscate any accounting. All of this warrants further investigation, and such oversight is part of Congress's job.

And watch the video from Hannity's opening segment earlier tonight. Reps. Jason Chaffetz and Trey Gowdy are interviewed.

And see Hot Air, "Hicks: Higher-ups at State told me not to talk to GOP congressman about Benghazi; Update: “Effectively demoted”." (At Memeorandum.)