U.S. diplomat says that Special Ops were Halted in Benghazi Attacks
Testimonies are the first public account from a U.S. official about September 11, 2012 tragedy
U.S. diplomat Gregory Hicks says that while the U.S. diplomatic compound in eastern Libya came under attack the night of Sept. 11, 2012, the deputy head of the embassy in Tripoli tried to get the Pentagon to scramble fighter jets over Benghazi. Hicks says that this may have averted a second attack on a nearby CIA complex. Hicks' testimony is the first public account from a U.S. official who was in Libya at the time of the attacks that killed four U.S. operatives.
U.S. diplomat Gregory Hicks is expected to speak at a hearing this week. The attack on the Benghazi compound resulted in the death of Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other government employees.
Defense Department officials maintain they had no units that could have responded in time to counter the attack in Benghazi. Republicans on Capitol Hill say that whether the Obama administration could have saved lives with a quicker response. Republicans say the hesitation to send the Special Operations troops may have, at the very least, deprived wounded Americans in Benghazi of first aid.
Hicks is expected to speak at a hearing this week. The attack on the Benghazi compound resulted in the death of Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other government employees.
New details about the attack are certain to start new debate over whether the Obama administration has been forward in its accounting of the mishap that resulted in the first death of a U.S. ambassador in the line of duty in a generation.
The episode, if the current administration is found culpable, could dog any future political aspirations of Hillary Rodham Clinton, who was secretary of state when the attacks happened.
The lieutenant colonel in Tripoli who commanded the Special Operations team told Hicks he was sorry that his men had been held back. "I've never been so embarrassed in my life that a State Department officer has bigger balls than someone in the military," the officer told Hicks, according to the diplomat's account. Hicks called that "a nice compliment."
The administration claims that the independent review of the Benghazi assault was exhaustive, and State Department officials have vowed to implement reforms to make U.S. missions abroad safer.
Many republican lawmakers have not been mollified. "The White House and the Pentagon have allowed us to believe that there were no military options on the table," Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) said in a phone interview. "The model of the military is to leave no person behind, and it's stunning and unacceptable to think we had military willing and ready to go and the Pentagon told them to stand down. That's just not the American way."
Pentagon spokesman George Little said he would review the Hicks testimony. "We have repeatedly stated that while Department officials started taking action immediately after learning that an attack was underway at the American facility there, our forces were unable to reach it in time to intervene to stop the attacks," Little said in an email.
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