Last week the Wall Street Journal published Gregory Hicks’s column “Benghazi and the smearing of Chris Stevens.” It would be easy to overlook Hicks’s column in the crush of last week’s news, but it is deserving of special attention. In the column Hicks offers his eyewitness testimony to the security issues that Stevens dealt with at our Libyan facilities before his death.
The redacted report of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Committee that was released on January 15 has left some to draw the conclusion that Stevens rejected additional security and to imply that he is responsible for the success of the attack leading to his own death. Hicks comments: “This is untrue: The blame lies entirely with Washington.”
“Washington” is of course a euphemism for people with names of their own. Hicks does not name names beyond that of Undersecretary Patrick Kennedy, but he lends an invaluable perspective. Here is his conclusion:
When I arrived in Tripoli on July 31, we had over 30 security personnel, from the State Department and the U.S. military, assigned to protect the diplomatic mission to Libya. All were under the ambassador’s authority. On Sept. 11, we had only nine diplomatic security agents under Chris’s authority to protect our diplomatic personnel in Tripoli and Benghazi.
I was interviewed by the Select Committee and its staff, who were professional and thorough. I explained this sequence of events. For some reason, my explanation did not make it into the Senate report.
To sum up: Chris Stevens was not responsible for the reduction in security personnel. His requests for additional security were denied or ignored. Officials at the State and Defense Departments in Washington made the decisions that resulted in reduced security. Sen. Lindsey Graham stated on the Senate floor last week that Chris “was in Benghazi because that is where he was supposed to be doing what America wanted him to do: Try to hold Libya together.” He added, “Quit blaming the dead guy.”
Gregory Hicks is still a State Department employee. He is sacrificing his career to speak up on behalf of Stevens and his other colleagues lost in the attack. Please check out what he has to say.
NOTE: In the video below, Hicks speaks about the attack on ABC This Week with George Stephanopoulos.