Preview: Wednesday’s Benghazi whistle-blower hearing
WASHINGTON – Two “whistle-blowers” — who have never before spoken publicly about what really happened when the American diplomatic mission in Benghazi was attacked on Sept. 11, 2012 — are expected to testify before a House committee in a much-anticipated appearance Wednesday.
Four Americans died in the Benghazi attacks, including Chris Stevens, the U.S. ambassador to Libya.
The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform is calling its hearing, “Benghazi: Exposing Failure and Recognizing Courage.” It’s set to take place Wednesday morning at the Rayburn House Office Building.
Since the attacks, the Obama administration has been criticized for initially blaming them on a spontaneous response to an anti-Muslim video, when it was determined that it was a planned attack. Critics have questioned whether the administration played politics with its response and whether it could have done more to protect the compound.
The whistle-blowers set to testify include Gregory Hicks, a foreign service officer and former deputy chief of mission/chargé d’affairs in Libya, and Mark Thompson, the acting deputy assistant secretary for counterterrorism at the Department of State.
Eric Nordstrom, a diplomatic security officer and former regional security officer in Libya, is expected to testify before the committee again, though he does not consider himself a whistle-blower, according to media reports.
In April, Hicks was interviewed by congressional investigators on the House Oversight Committee. The committee has released excerpts from that interview, hinting at some of what the whistle-blowers will discuss on Wednesday.
“I thought it was a terrorist attack from the get‑go,” Hicks said. “I think everybody in the mission thought it was a terrorist attack from the beginning.”
Hicks told investigators he thinks the military could have stopped the bloodshed had fighter jets been deployed when the compound first came under attack.
“I believe if we had been able to scramble a fighter or aircraft or two over Benghazi as quickly as possible after the attack commenced, I believe there would not have been a mortar attack on the annex in the morning because I believe the Libyans would have split,” he said.
“They would have been scared to death that we would have gotten a laser on them and killed them,” Hicks said.