News / USA

State Department Denies Demoting Benghazi Whistleblower

Gregory Hicks, former deputy chief of mission in Libya prepares to read his testimony at a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee about last year's deadly assault on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, on Capitol Hill in Washington, May 8, 2
Gregory Hicks, former deputy chief of mission in Libya prepares to read his testimony at a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee about last year's deadly assault on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, on Capitol Hill in Washington, May 8, 2
A senior State Department official says he has been demoted following his criticism of the Obama administration's handling of last September's attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya.  Four Americans, including Ambassador Christopher Stevens, were killed.  State Department officials say there has been no retaliation against Benghazi whistleblowers.

Since his return to Washington following the Benghazi attacks, Gregory Hicks, the former deputy chief of mission in Libya, has told Congress he was punished professionally.

"The job now is a significant ... it's a demotion," said Hicks. "Foreign affairs officer is a designation that is given to our civil service colleagues who are desk officers.  So I've been effectively demoted from deputy chief of mission to desk officer."

Acting Deputy State Department spokesman Patrick Ventrell says that is not true.

"The Department has not and will not retaliate against Mr. Hicks," said Ventrell. "As he testified yesterday, he decided to shorten his assignment in Libya following the attacks, in part due to understandable family reasons, and he has followed standard employment processes."

Ventrell says Hicks has had neither a reduction in pay nor in grade and is free to compete with other foreign service officers for his next posting.

A 22-year veteran of the State Department, Hicks is a fluent Arabic speaker who before Libya served in Afghanistan, Bahrain, Yemen, and Syria.

Hicks told the congressional hearing that superiors questioned his management skills after he told Republican lawmakers that U.S. soldiers in Tripoli should have been sent to Benghazi.

Hicks has criticized Washington's initial assessment of the violence as stemming from a demonstration instead of being a terrorist attack, and says he was stunned when the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice, made that assertion.

The Obama administration corrected its account to say this was a terrorist attack.  The U.S. Defense Department says soldiers in Tripoli could not have reached Benghazi in time to rescue those who were killed and injured.

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by: Michael Nahra
May 10, 2013 12:37 AM
"The U.S. Defense Department says soldiers in Tripoli could not have reached Benghazi in time to rescue those who were killed and injured."
This would be true if they were riding camels to get from Tripoli to Benghazi, but it is my understanding that they were at the airport. Would that not infer flight? Also, why could not other military assets in the region respond? In the modern era we have assets in the area which could respond in less than an hour. Did someone sink our aircraft carrier in that region?

In Response

by: Mike from: Fairfax
May 10, 2013 2:43 PM
I think it's kind of ironic that we're still investigating the Boston marathon bombing but somehow we expect the state department to have known in advance who, when and where a bunch of thugs several thousand miles away in a country that wasn't cooperating with the US. Congressman Chaffetz is promoting several conspiracy theories at once, including Benghazi and the ammo lie.

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