News / USA

US Diplomat: Military Help Sought During Benghazi Attack

US Officials Criticize American Response to Benghazi Attacki
X
May 09, 2013 1:00 AM
A State Department official has criticized the security response during last year’s deadly attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, and expressed dismay over the Obama administration’s initial characterization of the assault as a popular protest rather than a terrorist act. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, three officials testified before the House of Representatives’ Oversight Committee - the latest congressional probe into the attack that killed four Americans, including Ambassador Christopher Stevens.
US Officials Criticize American Response to Benghazi Attack
Michael Bowman
A senior State Department official has criticized America’s security response during last year’s deadly attack on U.S. facilities in Benghazi, Libya, and has expressed dismay over the Obama administration’s initial characterization of the assault as a popular protest rather than a terrorist act. Three officials testified before the House of Representatives’ Oversight Committee - the latest congressional probe into the attack that killed four Americans, including Ambassador Christopher Stevens.

The attack, and the killing of the U.S. ambassador to Libya, shocked the nation and sparked calls for an investigation.  Eight months later, the controversy and the allegations continue.   

The former deputy head of the U.S. embassy in Tripoli, Gregory Hicks, told lawmakers that a request to airlift additional security forces to Benghazi during the attack was denied.

“They were not authorized to travel. They remained in Tripoli with us,” Hicks said.

 
Who is Testifying at the Benghazi Hearing?

  • Gregory Hicks, deputy chief of mission in Libya at the time of the 2012 attack
  • Mark Thompson, acting deputy assistant secretary for counterterrorism at the State Department
  • Eric Nordstrom, former regional security officer in Libya
Hicks said he also was told that U.S. aircraft in Italy could not respond in time, leaving him with this chilling thought:

“OK, we are on our own. We are going to have to pull this off with the resources that we have available [in Libya],” he said.

When Susan Rice, Washington's ambassador to the U.N., went on national television and characterized the Benghazi attack as a popular protest. Hicks was dismayed.

“I was stunned. My jaw dropped. And I was embarrassed,” Hicks said.

Some Republican lawmakers have accused the Obama administration of incompetence in responding to the Benghazi attack, and of attempting to mislead the American people afterwards.

Democrats point out that exhaustive reviews of the incident identified security lapses but no intentional wrongdoing. Congressman Elijah Cummings sympathized with Gregory Hicks’ desire for U.S. air support over Benghazi.

“If I were in your shoes, I would have wanted them to get there [to Benghazi] yesterday. And that is completely understandable. But the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff said they simply could not get there quickly,” Cummings said.

The three State Department whistleblowers said they wanted to provide a full accounting of events in Benghazi. Hicks alleged that superiors pressured him against speaking with lawmakers probing the attack. The State Department denies attempting to muzzle anyone.

Diplomatic security officer Eric Nordstrom said the truth matters.

“It matters to me personally. And it matters to my colleagues at the Department of State. It matters to the American public we serve,”  Nordstrom said.

The committee’s chairman, Republican Darrell Issa, agreed. “Our goal in this investigation is to get answers,” Issa said.

Issa said the families of those killed in Benghazi especially deserve answers. But Democrats see politics at play. Once again, Elijah Cummings:

“What we have seen over the past two weeks is a full-scale media campaign that is not designed to investigate what happened in a responsible and bipartisan way, but rather unfounded accusations to smear public officials,” Cummings said.

The Benghazi attack occurred at the height of President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign. It could resurface in presidential politics in 2016 if former secretary of state Hillary Clinton decides to run for office.

You May Like

Obama: Alaskans Feel Signs of Climate Change

They're seeing bigger storm surges as sea ice melts, more wildfires, erosion of glaciers, shorelines More

1855 Slave Brochure Starkly Details Sale of Black Americans

Document lists entire families that were up for sale in New Orleans, offering graphic insight into the slavery trade More

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs