Wednesday’s Benghazi hearing of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee gave Americans the first public eyewitness account from anyone actually on the ground in Libya on September 11, 2012.
Gregory Hicks, the former number two at the U.S. embassy in Tripoli, walked committee members through that fateful night. The testimony of the witnesses was totally gripping, extraordinary, and very emotional. Even if some of this account had already been made public, hearing it live was nothing less than tragic.
Unbelievably, it took eight months for this hearing to happen. Credit goes to the great courage of the three witnesses—Hicks, Mark Thompson, who leads State’s Foreign Emergency Support Team (FEST), and Eric Nordstrom, former regional security officer for the Middle East. And credit also goes to the persistence of committee chairman Darrell Issa (R–CA) to shine a light on the terrorist attack that took the lives of four brave Americans, including Ambassador Christopher Stevens.
Most impressive were the glaring contrasts contained in the testimony. Hicks’s on-the-ground testimony shows both the glaring inadequacy of Washington’s response and the heroic efforts of the embassy and CIA teams on the ground in Libya. Both aspects of this case should be explored.