A top-ranking diplomat in Libya is set to testify that the Americans on the ground at the diplomatic facility in Benghazi believed from the outset that, contrary to the claims of administration officials, the September 11 attack was carried out by terrorists. CBS’s Face the Nation this morning revealed portions of an interview that the diplomat, 22-year State Department veteran Gregory Hicks, gave to the House Oversight Committee.
“I think everybody in the mission thought it was a terrorist attack from the beginning,” he said. Hicks told the commitee that U.N. ambassador Susan Rice’s contention that the attack resulted from angry protests over an anti-Muslim YouTube video, which contradicted the statements of Libyan president Mohammed al-Magarief, were viewed as an insult by the Libyan government and made the FBI’s investigation of the attack more difficult. “I’ve never been as embarrassed in my life, in my career, as on that day,” Hicks said of Rice’s five interviews on Sunday news programs just days after the attack. “The net impact of what has transpired is the spokesperson of the most powerful country in the world, has basically said that the president of Libya is either a liar of doesn’t know what he’s talking about.”
Hicks also contradicted the White House’s claim that it contacted American officials in Libya on the night of the attack, telling investigators that he never heard from administration officials.
Oversight Committee chairman Darrell Issa, who this week will hold hearings on the Benghazi attack at which Hicks will testify, told CBS’s Bob Schieffer that Rice’s remarks indicate at best a “misinformation campaign” orchestrated by the Obama administration and at worst a full-blown coverup.
“There was this normalization, sort of a mentality where you had to pretend like things were safe, the War on Terror was over,” Issa said. “And that may have gone in a great way to getting people to say, ‘Well, we can’t call this a terrorist attack because then the War on Terror is back alive.’ Well, Bob, the War on Terror is very much alive.”