In this Thursday, Sept. 13, 2012 file photo, bloodstains at the main gate believed to be from one of the American staff members of the U.S. Consulate, after an attack that killed four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens on the night of Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2012, in Benghazi, Libya. (Photo: AP)
Ambassador Christopher Stevens' former deputy Gregory Hicks is contradicting the Obama administration's narrative as to why no help arrived in Benghazi in time to prevent the deaths of Ambassador Stevens and three other Americans, according to a CBS News report.
The administration has repeatedly said no assistance could have made it to Benghazi in time to prevent the deaths, and that all available resources were utilized throughout the roughly eight-hour attack.
But Hicks has reportedly told congressional investigators that a Special Forces team was ready to fly in from Tripoli, but that U.S. Special Operations Command South Africa forbade them from going.
CBS News' Sharyl Attkisson has the story:
According to excerpts released Monday, Hicks told investigators that SOCAFRICA commander Lt. Col. Gibson and his team were on their way to board a C-130 from Tripoli for Benghazi prior to an attack on a second U.S. compound "when [Col. Gibson] got a phone call from SOCAFRICA which said, 'you can't go now, you don't have the authority to go now.' And so they missed the flight ... They were told not to board the flight, so they missed it."
Hicks told congressional investigators that if the U.S. had quickly sent a military aircraft over Benghazi, it might have saved American lives. The U.S. Souda Bay Naval Base is an hour's flight from Libya.
"I believe if we had been able to scramble a fighter or aircraft or two over Benghazi as quickly as possible after the attack commenced, I believe there would not have been a mortar attack on the annex in the morning because I believe the Libyans would have split. They would have been scared to death that we would have gotten a laser on them and killed them," Hicks testified. Two Americans died in the morning mortar attack. [Emphasis added]
Hicks became the highest-ranking American diplomat in Libya after Stevens' death, and was in Tripoli at the time of the attack.
Hicks said Stevens called him at the onset of the attack shouting: "We’re under attack! We’re under attack!” Hicks immediately called Washington and, according to excerpts of his testimony, said he was "in communications with Washington all night long...reporting all night long what was happening to Washington by telephone."
“I never reported a demonstration; I reported an attack on the consulate," he said in excerpts released on CBS over the weekend, also contradicting the administration's original narrative that the attack was the outgrowth of a protest related to a YouTube video.
"Chris — Chris’s last report, if you want to say his final report, is, ‘Greg, we are under attack.’”
Hicks is scheduled to speak publicly for the first time before the House Oversight Committee on Wednesday.
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney responded to the report on Monday, but offered little new information.
Fox News' Ed Henry asked: "Why is Greg Hicks, who was the number two to Ambassador Stevens, now going to tell Congress and tell the American people that there were U.S. Special Forces who were in Tripoli getting ready to board a plane [to go] to Benghazi to help these Americans, and they were told to stand down?"
Carney referred reporters to the Department of Defense and the accountability review board tasked with investigating the Benghazi attack, adding that he doesn't have access to the interviews referred to in some of the news reports.
“He’s challenging the credibility of the White House. You don’t care about what he’s saying?" Henry probed. "Do you think he’s lying?”
“Again Ed, you’re citing an interview that I don’t have,” Carney responded.
Watch the entire exchange via the Washington Free Beacon, below: