The chief witness in Wednesday’s congressional hearings into the Benghazi terrorist attack was threatened and ostracized by the State Department for protesting the White House narrative on the deadly strike and largely ignored and disrespected by Democrats in the hearing, according to his attorney.
Former Deputy Chief of Mission Greg Hicks told the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee that the attack on the consulate in Benghazi was a terrorist attack and had nothing to do with a YouTube video as suggested by President Obama, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice. Hicks further testified that his superiors rejected all efforts to launch a rescue mission during the attack and effectively ruined his career when he objected to the official explanation behind the strike.
“He was not a team player,” Hicks’ attorney Victoria Toensing told WND. “He protested about Susan Rice’s talking points being false … and he had a reason for being upset about it. Not only were they false so our government was speaking with forked tongue, but it was causing problems with the Libyan government. The president of Libya had been on one of the same shows with Ambassador Rice and he had been humiliated in that he said it was a terrorist attack and she said no, it’s a video. Can you believe that lack of decorum?”
Toensing said the next great frustration for Hicks came through State Department restrictions on his visit with Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, when the congressman came to Libya to investigate the attack. She said the administration refused to allow Hicks to meet with Chaffetz without a State Department “minder” who was there to monitor and potentially object to the conversation, but the private discussion happened anyway.
“The lawyer minder was kicked out of a meeting, a classified meeting, because he didn’t have the right clearances. So my client then got a nasty phone call from Cheryl Mills, who was the chief staff person for Hillary Clinton, and she just chewed him out,” Toensing said. “Then he’s told by another superior after that nobody likes him in Libya and nobody wants him to come back. With that in mind, plus the fact he couldn’t bring his family over there now because conditions had changed, he would not go back there but he was assured by the then-ambassador there that he would not be punished. He has been in an office in Siberia ever since November.
“He does not have meaningful work. He cannot get an assignment abroad, and if he doesn’t by Sept. 30, they want to shove him out,” said Toensing, who noted that Hicks was never given a reason for any of the unusual restrictions imposed on him by the State Department. She said it’s clear the treatment of Hicks is designed to send a clear message to others who might consider coming forward.
“He, because he wasn’t a team player and because he did all these things about letting Congress know about the security problems, was made an example of to the rest of the people. ‘Here’s what’s going to happen to you. You’re going to go back and sit in a desk in Siberia if you cross us, so don’t cross us. That’s the threat. That’s the threat for government integrity because it’s keeping all these people back,” she said.
Congressional investigators say there are at least two other State Department employees being heavily pressured not to come forward. Toensing also said the Accountability Review Board did not bring a stenographer when interviewing Hicks and investigators only took notes. Hicks was subsequently blocked from reviewing those notes or the unclassified version of the ARB’s report.
“That’s just a sloppy way to do an investigation,” she said.
Toensing sat behind Hicks throughout his testimony Wednesday and was taken aback at the very different approaches of the two parties.
“I had wished that there had been a photographer from my viewpoint because as I looked up at the hearing, all the Democrats were gone, except whoever was on the podium next to ask questions. It was empty on the left-hand side, and all the Republican members were there,” said Toensing, who contends the Democrats had a strategy for the hearing. However, that strategy isn’t to learn about what happened in Benghazi.
“They had a theme. They would always open up by saying we really respect you guys, but you guys are being used, which I thought was insulting,” she said.
Toensing said House Republicans should be prepared to issue subpoenas as the investigation moves forward, specifically for the chairman of the Accountability Review Board and Ambassador Rice.