WASHINGTON — The highest ranking American diplomat in Libya after the murder of Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans last year testified before Congress on Wednesday that he was “embarrassed” when U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice wrongly blamed the attacks on an anti-Islamic video.
“I was stunned. My jaw dropped. And I was embarrassed,” Gregory Hicks, a foreign service officer and former deputy chief of mission/chargé d’affairs in Libya, testified when asked to respond to Rice’s television appearances after the attack.
Hicks and two other witnesses testified Wednesday before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform’s “Benghazi: Exposing Failure and Recognizing Courage” hearing.
Since the attacks, the Obama administration has been criticized for initially blaming the Sept. 11, 2012 attacks on a spontaneous response to an anti-Muslim video, when it fact it was determined that it was a planned terrorist attack. Critics have questioned whether the administration played politics with its response in order to avoid an embarrassment before the election.
Hicks testified Wednesday that those on the ground knew it was a terrorist attack, and not a spontaneous uprising.
Here is the exchange between South Carolina Republican Rep. Trey Gowdy and Hicks about Susan Rice’s comments:
Gowdy: Fast forward, Mr. Hicks, to the Sunday talk shows with Ambassador Susan Rice. She blamed this attack on a video. In fact, she did it five different times. What is your reaction to that?
Hicks: I was stunned. My jaw dropped. And I was embarrassed.
Gowdy: Did she talk to you before she went on the five Sunday talk shows?
Hicks: No, sir.
Gowdy: You were the highest ranking official in Libya at the time, correct?
Gowdy: And she did not bother to have a conversation with you before she went on national television?
Hicks: No, sir.