A FEW HIGHLIGHTS FROM BENGHAZI HEARING IN CONGRESS
Published: May 8, 2013
One single “Smoking gun” revelation has yet to surface from today’s lengthy Benghazi hearing. However, what has emerged is a more intricate picture of what happened on the ground during the terrorist attack and immediately thereafter.
- The Deputy Chief of Mission, Greg Hicks, testified that the diplomatic team from Tripoli demonstrated great heroism as they prepared to help rescue their counterparts at the Benghazi annex.
- The deputy, who took over for Ambassador Stevens after he’d been killed by the terrorists, testified that the Tripoli Office Manager, Amber Pickens was a true hero. Ms. Pickens, he testified, smashed hard drives and destroyed other vital communication equipment in case the mob tried to overrun both U.S. diplomatic posts. He said she encouraged her fellow staff and loaded magazines for personnel in case they needed to take up arms to defend themselves and their colleges.
- Mr. Hicks argued that a military intervention could have been possible if the Administration had fully authorized military assets for combat action. He testified that his Libyan military contact told him when the attack began that U.S. military aircraft could be mobilized to strike Benghazi within two or three hours. He said that those fighters or gunships would have flown out of the American air force installation in Italy – Aviano Air Base.
- His testimony is in contradiction with earlier testimony by the Joint Chiefs Chairman, General Depsey, who said that no American assets could have been mobilized in time to be of any help in Libya.
- Mr. Hicks’ implied question for the general was what constitutes a timely response considering that no one knew exactly how long the fighting in Benghazi would continue.
- Mr. Hicks also testified that American military personnel on the ground in Tripoli at the embassy were forbidden to engage in any rescue attempt in Benghazi and the military commanders were furious about having to stay behind.
- Mr. Thompson, a former marine, and the State Department Counterterrorism expert who was in Libya that day, also testified that military ground and airborne assets whose primary job it is to immediately respond to these kinds of emergencies was also ordered to “Stand-down.”
- The unit Mr. Thompson was speaking of is called F.E.S.T. – Foreign Emergency Support Team. This team has aircraft and troops dedicated to being on standby in the anticipation of needing to respond quickly to an emergency situation at any American holding overseas.
- Mr. Thompson testified that his superiors told him that the situation was “Too dangerous” for this unit to deploy into Benghazi and that when he requested that the unit be mobilized into combat action, he was told that it was “Not the right time” for F.E.ST. to engage insurgents.
- When asked why his superiors decided not to allow F.E.S.T. to deploy to Benghazi in order to bring resolution to the conflict, he responded, “I don’t know.”