byÂ RICK MORANÂ
The number-two diplomat in Libya at the time of the terrorist attack on our diplomatic mission reportedly told a congressional committee that they knew that it was a terrorist attack “from the get-go.”
The statement of Thomas Hicks, former deputy chief of mission in Libya, directly contradicts the explanation offered by the administration in the immediate aftermath of the attack – that it was a “spontaneous” demonstration in response to a YouTube video on Islam.
Hicks, disillusioned and bitter, let the administration have it, reserving his harshest criticism for Ambassador Susan Rice, whose five interviews on Sunday talk shows not only spread altered talking points on the attack, but hugely damaged our relations with the new Libyan government.
CBS News reports:
When he appears this week before the committee, chaired by Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., Hicks is expected to offer testimony at odds with what some American officials were saying in public — and on “Face the Nation” — just five days after the attack. Benghazi whistleblowers have rallied attention to discrepancies among the administration’s reaction to the attack, which The Weekly Standard suggests was frayed by ever-evolving talking points that sought to remove references to al Qaeda.
On Sept. 16, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice hit the media circuit, appearing on all five Sunday talk shows to dispel the notion that the strike was a premeditated terrorist act and to perpetuate the case that it began “spontaneously” out of protests in Egypt. Rice’s spot on “Face the Nation” that day was preceded by the new President of Libya Mohammed al-Magariaf, who said his government had “no doubt that this was preplanned, predetermined.”
“For there to have been a demonstration on Chris Stevens’s front door and him not to have reported it is unbelievable,” he said. “I never reported a demonstration; I reported an attack on the consulate. Chris — Chris’s last report, if you want to say his final report — is, ‘Greg, we are under attack.’
“…I’ve never been as embarrassed in my life, in my career, as on that day,” Hicks continued in his interview with investigators. “The net impact of what has transpired is, [Rice,] 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. ….My jaw hit the floor as I watched this.”
Though the White House has said it was in contact with officials in Libya the night of the attack, Hicks said in the days following, he was never consulted about the talking points. One day after Rice’s Sunday show blitz, Hicks said he called Beth Jones, acting assistant secretary for near eastern affairs at the State Department, and asked, “Why did Amb. Rice say that?” The tone of her answer — “I don’t know,” he said — indicated that “I perhaps asked a question that I should not have asked.”