As the deputy chief of mission for the U.S. in Libya, Gregory Hicks was on the ground at the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli on September 11, 2012, when terrorists launched two attacks on American compounds in Benghazi.
Hicks and two other government officials have been named as witnesses
for a Congressional hearing Wednesday before the House Oversight
Committee. The others are: Eric Nordstrom, the former lead security
official for the State Department in Libya, and Mark Thompson, the
acting deputy assistant secretary for counterterrorism at the State
Department. Other so-called "whistleblowers" from federal agencies,
including the CIA, have provided information to Congressional
investigators, but are said to be unwilling - so far - to speak publicly
because they aren't authorized by their agencies to do so.
fear of retaliation.
It's been a remarkably long period
of silence from the dozens of American survivors and eyewitnesses who
were in Libya the night of the attacks. It's not publicly known what
testimony the witnesses will give at this week's hearing, but in a
series of interviews and communications, CBS News has obtained
information about some of areas of knowledge the witnesses can address.
was number two to Ambassador Christopher Stevens, who was killed in the
attacks. With Stevens in Benghazi on September 11, Hicks was the top
Foreign Service official at the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli. When the first
U.S. compound in Benghazi fell under attack, Hicks reportedly took the
"Greg, we are under attack," Ambassador Stevens told Hicks on the phone. Those were the last words he heard from Stevens.
According to Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., who appeared Sunday on "Face the Nation,"
Hicks recently testified privately to the House Oversight Committee: "I
never reported a demonstration. I reported an attack on the
consulate...I thought it was a terrorist attack from the get-go. I think
everyone in the mission thought it was a terrorist attack from the
Hicks was also on the receiving end of calls
when Stevens went missing. Later, he was on the phone when an
unidentified man called the U.S. Embassy using Stevens' own telephone to
say the ambassador was at Benghazi hospital. Still later, Hicks said he
was there when Stevens' body was turned over to U.S. personnel under
circumstances that still remain mysterious.
Throughout the night, sources say Americans on the ground in Libya at times felt helpless and abandoned.
relied on Washington for dispassionate assessment," one eyewitness told
CBS News. "Instead, they [Washington officials] were asking us what
help we needed. We answered: 'Send reinforcements!' "
But they were told immediate help wasn't available.
Embassy personnel say they repeatedly asked the Defense Attache on site in Tripoli for military assistance.
"Isn't there anything available?" one Embassy official says he asked. "But the answer was 'no.'"
about Aviano?" the official pressed, referencing the NATO air base with
US assets in northeastern Italy. "No," was the answer. (Continues)