WASHINGTON -- Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif), chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, revealed an interview on Sunday with a high-ranking U.S. diplomat in Libya who contradicted the White House's initial version of events after the attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi in September.
According to an interview investigators conducted with Greg Hicks, a foreign service diplomat of 22 years, "everybody in the mission" in Benghazi believed the events of Sept. 11, 2012, constituted a terrorist attack and were not the result of spontaneous demonstrations, as the administration portrayed the situation in the aftermath of the attack.
"I thought it was a terrorist attack from the get-go," Hicks said to oversight committee investigators, in an interview Issa supplied to CBS's "Face the Nation" with Bob Schieffer. "I think everybody in the mission thought it was a terrorist attack from the beginning."
Issa's choice of venue for the disclosure was meaningful. Just days after the attack, which claimed the lives of Chris Stevens, then the U.S. ambassador to Libya, and three other Americans., U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice said on "Face the Nation" and other Sunday shows that the Benghazi incident didn't seem to be a planned terrorist attack, as Libyan President Mohammed al-Magariaf had quickly claimed.
Issa -- and, in his reported interview, Hicks -- criticized Rice's portrayal as a mischaracterization that damaged U.S. standing with Libya.
"We can’t find a classified reason for it, we can’t find a diplomatic reason for it," Issa said of the claim that the attack was spontaneous. "Understand that Gregory Hicks, who became the charge, became the acting ambassador, witnessed our relationship with Libya on this show go the wrong way. Because on this show, Susan Rice says, it was a protest. Well the president, the elected president saying, no it’s a terrorist attack. You can’t insult a foreign leader in a greater way than happened literally here, just those few days later."
In his interview, Hicks said he had "never been as embarrassed" as when he saw Rice contradict the Libyan president.
"The net impact of what has transpired is the spokesperson of the most powerful country in the world has basically said that the president of Libya is either a liar or doesn’t know what he’s talking about," Hicks said, according to CBS. "The impact of that is immeasurable. Magariaf has just lost face in front of not only his own people, but the world … my jaw hit the floor as I watched this … I’ve never been as embarrassed in my life, in my career, as on that day."
"I never reported a demonstration; I reported an attack on the consulate," Hicks said. "Chris -- Chris's last report, if you want to say his final report -- is, 'Greg, we are under attack.'"
Hicks, who was the second-ranking U.S. official in Libya at the time, is expected to testify before Issa's committee this week.