Gregory Hicks, former deputy chief of mission in Benghazi, told Congress today that a State Department official began criticizing his job performance, and he was ultimately demoted, after he asked why U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice attributed the Benghazi attack to an anti-Islamic Youtube video.
“In hindsight, I think it began after I asked the question about Ambassador Rice’s statement on the TV shows,” Hicks said of the criticism during a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing on the attack today.
Hicks said he asked Assistant Secretary Beth Jones why Rice made the statements that she did on the 9/16/13 Sunday talk shows.
“Her reaction was ‘I don’t know,’ and it was very clear from the tone that I should not proceed with any further [questions],” he told lawmakers.
On September 12, Jones had emailed Hicks and several other State Department officials stating that she told the Libyan government that the Benghazi attack had been carried out by a terrorist group.
“I spoke to the Libyan ambassador and emphasized the importance of Libyan leaders continuing to make strong statements,” Jones wrote in the email, from which Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., read during the hearing. “I told him that the group that conducted the attacks, Ansar al Sharia, is affiliated with Islamic terrorists.”
Jones eventually “delivered a blistering critique of my management style,” Hicks said, “[and] even exclaimed “I don’t know why Larry Pope [the top U.S. diplomat in Libya] would want you to come back.”
Hicks told the committee, “I’ve effectively been demoted from deputy chief of mission to desk officer.”