A U.S. foreign service diplomat said that “everybody in the mission” in Benghazi, Libya, knew that the attack on the consulate last September was a terrorist attack “from the get-go” in video excerpts obtained by CBS News‘ “Face the Nation.”
Greg Hicks, who became the highest-ranking U.S. official in Libya after the attack, told House Oversight and Government Reform Committee investigators that he believes “everybody in the mission thought it was a terrorist attack from the beginning,” in video clips of his interview.
Hicks is a 22-year foreign service diplomat and was the No. 2 U.S. official prior to the attack.
Critics of the Obama administration’s reaction to the Benghazi attack argue that the discrepancies in the evolving official story are indicative of an attempt to remove references to a terror attack or to the terrorist group al Qaeda, but few attempt to explain the impetus behind such a media wash.
Still, it does seem clear that the official story in the early days contradicts what seems to be true in hindsight – Ambassador Susan Rice appeared on several talk shows the day after the attack to stress that the attack had spontaneously occurred from an impromptu demonstration, and was not a pre-planned terrorist attack.
A day prior to Rice’s media appearances, new President of Libya Mohammed al-Magariaf said that his administration had “no doubt that this was preplanned, predetermined.”
Hicks said that the Obama administration’s initial response to the Benghazi attack left him embarrassed.
“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,” he said.
On “Face the Nation,” which had previously gone along with the official story on Benghazi, Representative Darrell Issa, who heads the official probe, argued that the Obama administration’s media blitz dangerously undercut the credibility of al-Magariaf, which is a huge international “no-no,” especially in the midst of such a tumultuous power shift in Libya.
“You can’t insult a foreign leader in a greater way than happened literally here, just those few days later,” Issa said.
“Ambassadors know that the one thing you can’t do is contradict your host, especially at a time when you need their cooperation. This was a fatal error to our relationship, at least for a period of time. And we can’t find the purpose. [Secretary of State Hillary Clinton] should have been among – above all else – the person who was on the same sheet of music with the Libyan government, and she wasn’t.”
You can watch video of this report below, via CBS: