Benghazi witness Gregory Hicks used an ABC interview to push discredited myths about the September 2012 attack on a U.S. diplomatic facility in Benghazi, Libya that have been refuted by military officials and by his own testimony.
Hicks Contradicts Himself By Claiming He Was Punished For Speaking Out About Benghazi Attack
During the September 8 edition of This Week, Former Deputy Chief of Mission in Libya Gregory Hicks described his experience and the aftermath of the Benghazi attack with host George Stephanopoulos. Hicks used the interview to accuse the State Department of retaliating against him for his testimony during a House Oversight Committee hearing on May 8. After Stephanopoulos asked Hicks whether he felt he was being punished for his testimony, he responded, "Yes, I feel that I have been punished. ... I don't know why I was punished" and "shunted aside."
But Hicks was not punished for speaking out. Stephanopoulos read from a State Department letter which explained that "The State Department has not punished Mr. Hicks in any way" and his departure from Libya "was entirely unrelated to any statements" he made about Benghazi.
In fact, Hicks' claim about being punished contradicts his previous testimony about not returning to his assignment in Libya. During his testimony at a May 8 House Oversight Committee hearing, Hicks explained that "my family really didn't want me to go back. ... So I voluntarily curtailed" returning to Libya. From Hicks' sworn testimony (emphasis added):
REP. SCOTT DESJARLAIS (R-TN): So when you came back to the United States, were you planning on going back to Libya?
MR. HICKS: I was. I fully intended to do so.
REP. DESJARLAIS: And what do you think happened?
MR. HICKS: Based on the criticism that I received, I felt that if I went back, I would never be comfortable working there. And in addition, my family really didn't want me to go back. We'd endured a year of separation when I was in Afghanistan 2006 and 2007. That was the overriding factor. So I voluntarily curtailed -- I accepted an offer of what's called a no-fault curtailment. That means that there's -- there would be no criticism of my departure of post, no negative repercussions. And in fact Ambassador Pope, when he made the offer to everyone in Tripoli when he arrived -- I mean Charge Pope -- when he arrived, he indicated that people could expect that they would get a good onward assignment out of that.
Hicks Claims He Doesn't Know Why Military Assistance Didn't Arrive In Time
Hicks also used the interview to strongly suggest that military resources could have been made available to respond to the attack in time to possibly save lives. While Stephanopoulos made clear that Pentagon officials reported that no assets could have responded in time, Hicks lamented, "I still don't quite understand why they couldn't fly aircraft over," adding "I just thought that they would come."
But military officials have explained that no forces from outside Libya could have deployed to Benghazi in time to affect the outcome of the attacks. Former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates explained that a timely military response to the attacks "would have been very difficult if not impossible" and that an expectation that military forces would be sent into an unknown situation shows a "cartoonish impression of military capabilities and military forces." Gates also explained that due to the number of missing anti-aircraft weapons in Libya, he "would not have approved sending an aircraft, a single aircraft, over Benghazi." The Department of Defense also testified that fighter aircraft would not have been able to respond to the attack in time to save lives. Hicks' suggestion is further undermined by the fact that resources were needed to defend the embassy in Tripoli.