Tag Archives: clinton

Benghazi Hearing: Hicks ‘stunned’ at Rice explanation

Deputy Chief of Mission Hicks said it best about Susan Rice’s statements on the Sunday morning talk shows in which she perpetuated the lies about Benghazi: “My jaw dropped and I was embarrassed,” Mr Hicks said on his reaction to her interview.  Someone must be held accountable for the Obama Administration’s purposeful lies about the terrorist attacks on our Ambassador and three other Americans on 9/11/12. — AA

(Guardian UK)

A top US official who was in Libya during the deadly attack on the US Consulate in Benghazi has given the first public account of the event.

Gregory Hicks, deputy chief of mission in Tripoli, said he was “stunned” by UN Ambassador Susan Rice’s comments that the attack was spontaneous.

He also told lawmakers he received a phone call from US Envoy Christopher Stevens, just before he died.

Three other Americans were killed in the attack on 11 September 2012.

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My jaw dropped and I was embarrassed”

Gregory Hicks on his reaction to Susan Rice’s comments

During several hours of emotional testimony before a House of Representatives committee on Wednesday, Mr Hicks described the moment he was informed of the attack.

He said he was in Tripoli watching TV when he received a phone call from Ambassador Stevens.

“Greg, we’re under attack,” the ambassador reportedly told Mr Hicks by telephone before the line cut.

He later received a phone call from the Libyan prime minister informing him of Ambassador Steven’s death.

“I think it is the saddest phone call I have ever had in my life,” Mr Hicks said.

After the disrupted phone call with Ambassador Stevens, Mr Hicks said he received calls from Libyans using the ambassador’s phone who said they had the envoy with them.

But Mr Hicks decided not to act on the calls, fearing an ambush.

UN Ambassador Susan Rice has been the focus of outrage from Republicans in Congress, for giving the news media what has been acknowledged as an incorrect explanation for the attack.

She said on a Sunday chat show on 16 September that the attack had grown out of an anti-US protest, while other officials have said they knew at the time it was an organised, armed assault, possibly by an Islamist militant group.

“My jaw dropped and I was embarrassed,” Mr Hicks said on his reaction to her interview.

Some Republicans accuse the White House of hiding information about the attack, while Democrats say the issue has become politicised.

The BBC’s Jane O’Brien in Washington says Wednesday’s testimony will do nothing to dispel Republican concerns that President Barack Obama tried to cover up a terrorist attack in the run-up to a presidential election.

Democrats will continue to say there was no attempt to mislead the public, our correspondents adds.

‘Need to evacuate’

At Wednesday’s hearing, Mr Hicks expressed frustration with the lack of a US military response during the night-time attack, saying one could have deterred a second assault.

The Pentagon has said nothing could have been done to assist the Americans in Benghazi.

Mr Hicks and two other state department employees criticised an official review undertaken after the attack, saying many people with first-hand knowledge of the event were not interviewed and it focused too much on lower-ranking officials.

The review found that poor leadership and management in two state department teams led to a security plan that was “inadequate for Benghazi and grossly inadequate to deal with the attack that took place”.

Mr Hicks told the panel he spoke to people at the State Department and to Libyan officials, and had a conversation with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton around 02:00 on the night of the attack.

“Secretary of State Clinton called me along with her senior staff… and she asked me what was going on. And I briefed her on developments,” Mr Hicks told congressmen.

“Most of the conversation was about the search for Ambassador Stevens. It was also about what we were going to do with our personnel in Benghazi, and I told her that we would need to evacuate. She said that was the right thing to do.”

The ambassador died of smoke inhalation when he was trapped in the burning consulate building, after armed men stormed the compound.

State department employee Sean Smith and former Navy Seals Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty also died in the attack.

Mrs Clinton angrily defended her handling of the Benghazi raid in a series of hearings on Capitol Hill in January.

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Senate should extend lifelong protection for former presidents

As of last week, I’m now contributing columns to TheHill.com on its Congress blog.  Hope you like this piece and will follow my work there (and here, as ever). 

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December 10, 2012 · 11:25 am

Unrest in Northern Ireland Rears its Ugly Head…Again

Belfast, Northern Ireland (CNN) — U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton condemned recent outbreaks of violence in Northern Ireland and urged a continued commitment to peace as she met with political leaders in Belfast on Friday.

“There can be no place in Northern Ireland for any violence — the remnants of the past must be quickly condemned,” she said.

Four men were arrested Thursday night after police investigating “ongoing dissident Republican activity” found what they described as a homemade rocket that could have been used to attack an armored police vehicle when they stopped a car in the Londonderry area.

Police said they also discovered an unexploded letter bomb in a postbox in the village of Clough.

Violent disorder broke out this week after a vote by Belfast city councilors to change the policy of flying the British Union flag outside Belfast City Hall all year round, restricting it to certain designated days.

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Benghazi Hearings will be Fascinating

So much about the coming hearings into the Benghazi tragedy will be worth noting.  First, what the president knew and when he knew it will be the key to this whole fiasco.  Few with an understanding of how such national security events work believe he 1) didn’t know what was happening in real-time and 2) that he didn’t know it was a terrorist attack.  As Col. David Hunt told a radio interviewer recently, the entire operational arm of the government is made aware of the situation on the ground immediately when American interests are under siege.

Almost as interesting will be how the politics play out.  Obama, of course, will have to worry that Republican majority in the House might seek impeachment over the findings, which are sure to embarrass–at the least–the White House.  Second, it will be interesting to see just how much more Hillary Clinton is willing to fall on her sword for this president.  She did so two weeks ago, but that was in the face of a presidential election.  With Obama re-elected, her willingness to be his fall-person will be weighed against her own future designs on the White House.  With Obama’s friend Deval Patrick reportedly interest in the Oval Office, the amity between Obama and Clinton could soon turn to enmityImage.  Finally, Sen John Kerry, who will be leading hearings, is set to become Clinton’s replacement at State.  It’s unlikely that he’ll allow the president to be embarrassed in the hearings, but that might lead to some heated criticism from the Republicans.  All told, there will be much to look for in the coming month.

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The Flight 93 Memorial Needs YOUR Help

Two former presidents and the current Speaker of the House are putting party differences aside to help make sure some of the bravest heroes of the 9/11 attacks receive the tribute they deserve.

Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush are joining with Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio) to head up an effort to raise $10 million to pay for the completion of a memorial for the victims of United Flight 93, which crashed into a field near Shanksville, Pa., at 500 mph.

[ How to help: Donate to the Flight 93 National Memorial ]

“It’s wrong not to have that memorial finished,” Clinton said in an interview with Yahoo! “This is something truly unique in all world history, as well as American history.”

 All 40 passengers and crew aboard Flight 93 were killed on 9/11 after storming the hijacked Boeing 757’s cockpit — with one, Todd Beamer, famously declaring: “Let’s roll.” Through cell phone calls to people on the ground, passengers had learned that other hijacked planes had hit the World Trade Center towers and the Pentagon. It’s believed the Flight 93 hijackers were planning to hit the White House or U.S. Capitol building.

 “I think it’s important for future generations to understand what sacrifice and courage and dedication to our country means. The Flight 93 memorial will send that clear signal for generations to come,” Bush said, urging Yahoo! viewers to contribute to the project.

And Boehner, also in an interview with Yahoo!, said, “What these citizens did  was really heroism. They acted on their own, and they had been on the phones with their families, and they had an idea of what could happen and decided to sacrifice their own lives to save many others.”

[ Related:Flight 93 victims' families react to fundraising effort ]

Donors already have given $52 million to fund the $62 million memorial.

“There has always been a special place in the common memory for people who deliberately, knowingly, certainly lay down their lives for other people to live,” Clinton said at a dedication ceremony for the completed portion of the memorial, held Sept. 10 in Shanksville. He added that he was “aghast” to learn that more money was needed to complete the project, and said he and Boehner had decided earlier that day to do something about it.

CLICK HERE to contribute

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