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Benghazi whistleblower: Has diplomat Gregory Hicks suffered for speaking out? (+video)

Gregory Hicks told a House panel that superiors opposed his meeting with House investigators and his questioning of claims that the Benghazi attacks were 'spontaneous.' He was reassigned to a desk job.

By Staff Writer / May 9, 2013

Gregory Hicks, former deputy chief of mission in Libya, testifies before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee's hearing on the deadly assault of the US diplomatic mission in Benghazi in Washington on Wednesday.

Cliff Owen/AP

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Has US diplomat Gregory Hicks suffered political retaliation for revealing details of the lethal terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya, last Sept. 11? That’s a big question raised by Wednesday’s House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

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Washington Editor

Peter Grier is The Christian Science Monitor's Washington editor. In this capacity, he helps direct coverage for the paper on most news events in the nation's capital.

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Mr. Hicks was the deputy chief of mission in the US Embassy in Libya at the time. Yesterday, he gave a gripping account of the day’s events, from the moment he was alerted that the Benghazi consulate was in danger (he was in Tripoli, watching TV at the time) to the “saddest phone call I’ve ever had in my life," which informed him that US Ambassador Chris Stevens had died.

But the part of his testimony that has Washington buzzing Thursday deals with allegations that he’s been punished for speaking out, both publicly and within the State Department bureaucracy.

Hicks described at length a phone call from Cheryl Mills, chief of staff to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Ms. Mills was “upset” that he’d met with House investigators looking into Benghazi after being told he should not, he said. She questioned why a State Department lawyer wasn’t in that meeting. Hicks said the lawyer didn’t have the proper security clearance.

Hicks also asked other superiors why Susan Rice, US ambassador to the UN, had said the attack might have been a spontaneous reaction to an anti-Islamic video. That video was a “non-event” in Libya, Hicks said, adding that it seemed clear from the first that the assault was a terrorist attack.

“The sense I got was I needed to stop the line of questioning,” Hicks told the House panel.

Since then, he’s been demoted, Hicks said. He’d been told he could expect a “good level of assignment” in the wake of his performance in the Libya tragedy. Instead, he’s been returned to Foggy Bottom and given a desk job as a foreign affairs officer.

“ 'Foreign affairs officer’ is a designation that is given to our civil service colleagues who – frankly who are desk officers.... So I’ve been effectively demoted from deputy chief of mission to desk officer,” said Hicks.

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