The deputy chief of mission under slain U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens told a House committee Wednesday he had been given a negative management review and "effectively demoted" to a desk job in Washington after raising questions about public accounts of last September's attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi.
Gregory Hicks became the top diplomat in Libya following the death of Stevens and three others in the armed assault on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi. During nearly six hours of testimony before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, the 22-year Foreign Service veteran described the chaos that occurred during the night and early morning hours of September 11 and 12 and the courage of the diplomats and staff trapped in the compound. He also recalled calls he later received from both President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton commending him for his leadership role during the crisis.
But Hicks said he began running into resistance from State Department officials in Washington when he questioned the version of events rendered by Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, on network TV talk shows on the Sunday after the event. Rice related the Benghazi attack to anti-American demonstration that had occurred hours earlier in Egypt over an American-made, anti-Muslim video that had appeared on the Internet. She described the attack, which included automatic rifles, machine guns, mortars, and rocket grenades, as something that "evolved" out of a "spontaneous" demonstration.
"Our current best assessment, based on the information that we have at present, is that, in fact, what this began as, it was a spontaneous — not a premeditated — response to what had transpired in Cairo," Rice said on ABC's This Week "And then as that unfolded, it seems to have been hijacked, let us say, by some individual clusters of extremists who came with heavier weapons.... And it then evolved from there."
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Photo of (from right) Eric Nordstrom, Gregory Hicks, Mark Thompson: AP Images