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

Turbulent Transition Imperils Tunisia’s Arab Spring Gains

Critics say new anti-terrorism laws worsen Tunisia's situation while others put faith in country’s vibrant civil organizations, women’s movement More

Burundi’s Political Crisis May Become Humanitarian One

United Nations aid agencies issue warning as deadly violence sends tens of thousands fleeing More

Yemenis Adjust to Life Under Houthi Rule

Locals want warring parties to strike deal to stop bloodletting before deciding how country is governed More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threati
X
Greg Flakus
May 29, 2015 11:24 PM
Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threat

Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video New York's One World Trade Center Observatory Opens to Public

From New Jersey to Long Island, from Northern suburbs to the Atlantic Ocean, with all of New York City in-between.  That view became available to the public Friday as the One World Trade Center Observatory opened in New York -- atop the replacement for the buildings destroyed in the September 11, 2001, attacks.  VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports.
Video

Video Seoul Sponsors Korean Unification Fair

With inter-Korean relations deteriorating over the North’s nuclear program, past military provocations and human rights abuses, many Koreans still hold out hope for eventual peaceful re-unification. VOA’s Brian Padden visited a “unification fair” held this week in Seoul, where border communities promoted the benefits of increased cooperation.
Video

Video Purple Door Coffeeshop: Changing Lives One Cup at a Time

For a quarter of his life, Kevin Persons lived on the street. Today, he is working behind the counter of an espresso bar, serving coffee and working to transition off the streets and into a home. Paul Vargas reports for VOA.
Video

Video Modular Robot Getting Closer to Reality

A robot being developed at Carnegie Mellon University has evolved into a multi-legged modular mechanical snake, able to move over rugged surfaces and explore the surroundings. Scientists say such machines could someday help in search and rescue operations. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Shanghai Hosts Big Consumer Electronics Show

Electronic gadgets are a huge success in China, judging by the first Asian Consumer Electronics Show, held this week in Shanghai. Over the course of two days, more than 20,000 visitors watched, tested and played with useful and some less-useful electronic devices exhibited by about 200 manufacturers. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Forced to Return Home, Afghan Refugees Face Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.

VOA Blogs