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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.

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This charge jolted the hearing. As Washington Post fact checker Glenn Kessler writes in his roundup of what came out yesterday, Hicks's "description of the internal dynamics – and reported retaliation for questioning the administration’s public posture – is certainly new."

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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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Republicans say that the charge proves Obama officials attempted to downplay the attacks in the immediate aftermath and are now trying to cover up that fact. Hicks has worked for the State Department 22 years, served in Afghanistan and Syria, among other places, and won numerous internal awards, points out conservative commentator Allahpundit on Hot Air!.

“Suddenly, after he started asking questions about Susan Rice, his ‘management style’ was unacceptable,” he writes. “How does a guy with management deficiencies rise to number two in Libya, one of the most perilous diplomatic posts in the world? Should we start asking State instead to explain why they’re promoting alleged incompetents?”

The State Department rejects this characterization of events.

“The Department has not and will not retaliate against Mr. Hicks,” said Patrick Ventrell, acting deputy spokesman for the State Department.

Hicks asked to be reassigned from Libya in the wake of the attack due to understandable family issues, said Mr. Ventrell. But that meant he was out of step with the annual assignment cycle. Finding a suitable post isn’t always easy under such circumstances, he added.

An anonymous source was harsher. A US diplomat told Foreign Policy’s Gordon Lubold that Hicks is a “classic case of underachiever who whines when big breaks don’t come his way."

The fact that after 22 years of service Hicks remains an FS-1 grade, the equivalent of a colonel in the military, shows that he has not exactly been a fast tracker, the source told Mr. Lubold.

More facts about Hicks’s fate will undoubtedly emerge in the days ahead. But if nothing else, he provided a service with his vivid testimony of what it was like on the ground on a confusing, terrible, and deadly night for US diplomacy, adds Washington Post media blogger Erik Wemple.

“Whatever the impact of Hicks’s words – whether they keep this story alive, whether they puncture the political standing of Clinton, whether they cause a Defense Department shakeup, whether they annoy the White House – they delivered the sort of person, visceral account that the country deserves after its people are killed in a terrorist attack,” Mr. Wemple writes.

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