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Greg Hicks Gets Scrutiny, as Diplomats Evacuated from Libya

Growing concerns over protests roiling Libya prompted the State Department to begin evacuating some diplomats from Tripoli, as the Pentagon put troops stationed at nearby European bases on high alert. [Washington Post]


YOU READ that correctly, amid the furor over the testimony of Greg Hicks, the Washington Post is reporting we’re evacuating some diplomats from Tripoli, with nearby U.S. troops on high alert.

It’s not the talking points. It’s the policy and always has been.

We learn that Republicans ignored the Benghazi emails they’re now squealing about, as they wage their Benghazi political campaign.

“I think Hillary [Clinton] should be subpoenaed if necessary.” Dick Cheney

Today, the dreaded headline and storyline the Obama administration was hoping to skirt arrives, as I warned it would: “Will Obama suffer the ‘second-term curse’?

And over the past week, two flaring controversies – one over his administration’s handling of the killing of the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans in Libya, the other over Internal Revenue Service employees targeting tea party groups for special scrutiny – have dominated the discussion in Washington.

After hearing the testimony of Greg Hicks, I wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt for obvious reasons, even if I don’t trust his choice of attorney, Victoria Toensing, who went to NewsMax TV to make her case for Hicks.

The Nation warns about criticizing “whistle-blowers,” experts weighing in that Hicks is rightly classified as one, which is important to take to heart.

There’s little doubt the guy is angry and is out for payback. Maybe he has good reason to be. He was also quite arrogant in his testimony and I’m hardly the only person who thought so.

Hicks had his grievances with how events in Benghazi were handled, but his gripes were about bureaucratic squabbles rather than political scandal. And this whistleblower spent a good bit of time tooting his own horn. “I earned a reputation for being an innovative policymaker who got the job done. I was promoted quickly and received numerous awards,” Hicks informed the lawmakers. “I have two master’s degrees. . . . I speak fluent Arabic. . . . I fast became known as the ambassador’s bulldog because of my decisive management styles. . . . Incoming charge Larry Pope told me personally that my performance was near-heroic.” – Dana Milbank

The thing that bothers me about it is that it seemed we were hearing a script from a movie, starring Greg Hicks, with everything in Rep. Issa’s hearing all about him. Hicks set himself up as the hero in the Benghazi hearings, the guy who finally got his say and could let everyone know just how unappreciated he is, compared to what he thinks he deserves. There’s also a hefty dose of slaying the Obama dragon mixed in.

The State Department on Friday directly refuted Hicks’s notion that the talking points now furiously being debated delayed the FBI investigation after the Benghazi terrorist attack.

MR. VENTRELL: And then I did also, while I have the opportunity, want to raise one other thing. And that is — and this is something that’s come up this week, this notion that Mr. Hicks had testified to that somehow the FBI investigation was slowed down as a result of these talking points. And I just wanted to take that — that’s another thing that I wanted to be very clear about, just to remind people that the Libyan Government granted visas to the FBI team on the day of those Sunday talk shows. They got their flight clearance the next day, and they arrived in Tripoli on September 18th. The reason they couldn’t travel to Benghazi was because of the security situation on the ground.

The anonymous sources started coming out of the woodwork the second Greg Hicks finished.

From Foreign Policy:

From an American diplomat, e-mailing Situation Report this morning: “Hicks is classic case of underachiever who whines when big breaks don’t come his way. 22 years as an FSO and he is still an FS-1 (COL equivalent). His uninformed comments about F-16s validates why he is still a mid-ranked officer. Where was his testimony on his role in trying to talk his ambassador out of making an overnight visit to a place he knew was dangerous? Very few DCMs who lose an ambassador can expect greater responsibilities…and there are dozens of talented FS-1 ranked ‘desk officers’ working honorably at the State Department. Also of interest is that he is running for a senior leadership position in the State Dept. union/professional association, [American Foreign Service Association]. He didn’t get my vote.”

Think Progress cited multiple anonymous sources who worked with Hicks on Friday, with Hicks taking hit after hit:

Counter to Hicks’ story of an unwarranted reassignment, the staff was upset with Hicks’ performance since he was first assigned to Tripoli on July 31, and told Jones as much prior to her meeting with Hicks.

“[Jones] and her aide had one-on-one meetings with us to see if [Hicks] could be guided into being a better leader,” a State Department employee posted to Libya told ThinkProgress. “Literally every single one of us begged for him to be removed from post,” said the employee, who spoke to ThinkProgress on the condition of anonymity, as they were not cleared to discuss personnel issues with the press.

A second State Department employee present in Libya before and during the Benghazi attacks confirmed the meetings occurred. Assistant Secretary Jones’ meetings with the staff prior to Oct. 2 were “entirely” focused on Hicks’ performance, according to this second employee, who also believed that Hicks should be removed from his position. “The group of us who were here during the attacks, we sat here two nights ago and watched [the hearing] with our jaws dropped,” the staffer said, referring to Hicks’ claim that he was demoted out of retribution for speaking out.

“He was removed from here because he was a disaster as a manager,” the second employee went on to say, expressing the belief that Hicks’ reassignment had “nothing to do with him being a whistleblower, it had everything to do with his management capacity or lack thereof.” This statement contradicts the narrative promoted on conservative media outlets that Hicks was being forced to remain silent and being punished for speaking out.

The whole thing has the hallmark of a Republican production, with no one able to resist joining in. What the attacks have in common is clear.

Speaking at the Iowa GOP’s annual Lincoln Dinner, Paul questioned the initial response to the attacks and asked, “First question to Hillary Clinton: Where in the hell were the Marines?” – Rand Paul challenges Hillary Clinton in key Iowa speech

The media has decided that they made Obama, so they have the right to take him down, with very few noticing that the policy that Democrats and Republicans supported to bomb Libya in the first place and brought us to the place we are today is in shambles.

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10 Responses to Greg Hicks Gets Scrutiny, as Diplomats Evacuated from Libya

  1. Bob Klahn May 12, 2013 at 11:35 am #

    You latched onto the same detail I did, his lawyer.

    Victoria Toensing was one of those who smeared Valerie Plame Wilson.

  2. dafederalist May 12, 2013 at 11:57 am #

    Did you see that smuck, John McCain, on the morning shows…yet again. I’ve been reading alot of the blogs asking “Is this Obama’s Watergate”….utter BULL and shady reporting trying to piece together a story. Was the plan all along? Impeachment or 2014 or both? With this congress, I wouldn’t put anything past them and everyday they surprise me with going lower than the lowest low……will they ever hit bottom? Never mind focusing on the problems that led to 9/11/2012..lets just scream BENGHAZI and 4 dead Americans…because that worked so well the last time…If president Obama weathers this storm then I hope…I PRAY..he understands that no amount of fancy dinners and lunches with this group is going to make him have a better relationship with him…

    But I just have to wonder if Mitch McChinless and John Boehner will take impeachment off the table?

    • secularhumanizinevoluter May 13, 2013 at 11:21 am #

      That would be schmuck.

  3. PeggySue May 12, 2013 at 1:02 pm #

    Ahhh. The plot line thickens. And the media? I listened briefly to Margaret Carlson this morning on Reliable Sources. She said what we need now is an ‘antihero’ to get to the truth. An antihero? So now we’re using the narrative elements of fiction for the job of reporting? I know the genre of creative nonfiction is a legitimate genre for feature writing [except in those cases where writers get 'too' creative with the facts, fictionalizing whole swaths of content material for dramatic purposes]. But now we can expect the long abandoned track of investigative journalism to sweep in with a creative nonfiction approach?

    Makes me feel so-o-o confident.

    If Hicks was a problem before Benghazi, he may very well regret his insistence that he knew better than the military over whether those planes and/or the special ops detail could have made it to the consulate in time to make a difference. But we do know as you pointed out, Taylor, that regardless of how many talking points were revised or changed after the fact, nothing on the ground would have changed. Therein lies the real loss tied directly to US policy in these very volatile places in the world.

  4. secularhumanizinevoluter May 12, 2013 at 1:15 pm #

    No….no…this is worse then Watergate…this is the worst scandal in American history….the repugs wouldn’t LIE about this would they?

  5. Taylor Marsh May 12, 2013 at 1:50 pm #

    Oh yeah, BobK. First piece I did on hearings cited Toensing & diGenova.

  6. secularhumanizinevoluter May 12, 2013 at 7:17 pm #

    Well it would seem from all reports that just about everyone who has worked with Hicks except Hicks himself thinks he is a fairly incompetent, self agrandizing hack. What a surprise.

  7. fairmindedindependent May 13, 2013 at 12:22 am #

    Yep, the so called liberal media is joining in on the Benegazi tragedy and the story about the IRS targeting conservative groups, the second term curse seems to be happening again. I can’t stand that the Benegazi tragedy is being used for political purposes. The IRS is another issue, I don’t want any political organization or group targeted like this, no matter what political positions you hold, the IRS should no better to do this.

  8. Lake Lady May 13, 2013 at 8:28 am #

    Robin Wright was practially in tears talking to Chris Hays on your point,Taylor. While the US poltical establishment wallows in mindnumbing,repetitive and

    preditable politics’ Libya is falling apart.

  9. spincitysd May 13, 2013 at 2:29 pm #

    It is the Policy Stupid.

    First lets pull the chains holding the two 800 pound gorillas of our foreign policy: Afghanistan and Iraq. Almost all of our military power was diverted there. So when Ghaddafi decided he wanted to wipe out vast swaths of his own population, and then broadcasted the message, our options were very limited. While I can not get into the head space of the man he must have looked about and seen how bogged down the preeminent military power in the world was and thought he could get away with mass slaughter.

    Unfortunately for the man, his broadcasting of his intentions was a challenge that had to be answered. If he had pulled an Assad, and provided even a soupcon of plausible deniability, he probably could of gone on his murderous way.

    Thus was the “humanitarian” intervention into Libya born. But there was still the problem of boots on the ground; the problem being being we had none to spare. From the beginning there was no after action plan for Libya. There was no provision for the day after Ghaddafi.

    Adding fuel to this tinderbox is how NATO then went about its business. It armed every insurgent force with a grudge against Ghaddafi without fear or favor. Not a really good idea as these divergent groups only shared a hatred of the regime and nothing else. Once the object of their hate was gone, their divergent ideologies and divergent goals insured that chaos would reign in post Ghaddafi Libya.

    With the collapse of the regime all manner of Pandora’s boxes were opened. Large cashes of arms which were under the control of the government became available to brigands and non-state actors. The flood of arms is destabilizing a wide swath of the Maghreb and Saharan Africa. Mali came withing a whisker of becoming a radical Salafi state. Only the quick action of France prevented that outcome.

    The intervention in Libya was always a high risk affair; a high wire act with no net. Not providing boots on the ground for the post-Gaddafi Libya had high probability of ending in tears.

    Granted, I have no earthly clue how Obama could have sold a proper intervention. I have no clue how those troops, even if provisioned, could have cleanly intervened. Hundreds of thousands of foreign troops tear-assing around Libya is not my idea of a good time had by all. But an even less fun time is what we have now, hundreds of thousands of armed men in diverse and disperse militias and criminal gangs tear-assing around not only in Libya, but further afield.

    Could Obama done nothing at all? Not really. I do not see how Obama could have allowed Gaddafi to butcher whole swaths of the Libyan population. I know that the Republicans would have gone into high dungeon if he had opted to do nothing. I also know that the default of our policy, to do something, would have been hard to overcome. It would not be politic for Obama to come out and say “because of the commitments we already have in Iraq and Afghanistan and because of the degradation of our military caused by those commitments our nation can not intervene in Libya. We have no real capability for the necessary follow-on actions post-Gaddafi and neither do our NATO allies.” It would have been the truth, but as Jack Jack Nicholson’s character in “A Few Good Men” would observe “you can’t handle the truth!”

    Thus we cobbled together a plan that involved massive air power with questionable ground assets. It got the job done and it got it done ugly. And that ugliness came back to bite us. Libya is being torn apart by centrifugal forces. The nation is riven by faction and regionalism. As in much of the post-colonial world the borders of the Libya do not reflect the facts on the ground. The only reason unity held was because a truly evil bastard was willing to enforce it with force major.

    But in the making of the Libyan omelet by our man Muammar, a lot of damage was done. The oppression and violence of the regime has left a nation and people deeply injured. By using force to overthrow the regime we almost guaranteed that the violence would continue. We also have an excellent chance of having an even more evil bastard rise up from the ashes of Libya and take charge.

    Benghazi is the end game and end result of our policy of empire on the cheep. It is the result of trying to be world’s police man. We keep reaching for the hammer of military action seeing every foreign policy question as a nail for that hammer. It is a really foolish way to go about our business. Military options require a willingness to go in large and in charge. It means you have to be willing for the use of appropriate ground forces. You can only fully control a patch of ground with ground-pounders — full stop. If you are not willing to commit troops, don’t get involved, it really is that simple.

    It is not like we have not allowed really bad things to happen in places far, far away. We did nothing for Rwanda. We never intervened in Burma. We actually supported the murderous Central American death squads during the reign of the Sainted Ronny Ray-Gun. We waited for damn-near forever when Yugoslavia fell into the ninth level of hell, only intervening when Kosovo started tipping over as well. We let North Korea slowly sink into the abyss of starvation and privation with only a murmur. We happy snatch up Chinese goods made with near and actual slave labor. Our morality is highly suspect. Would we have really cared for the Libyans if their land was not swimming in oil?

    But none of this is going to be discussed. No, we are going to enjoy a nice, long, and ultimately pointless bit of political theater. We are not even going to bother to gather up some after-action lessons learned. We won’t even bother to beef up diplomatic security. The sequester is actually going to cut the already inadequate funding for that item.

    So let’s rally round the flag boys and girls. Blue Team and Red Team assume your usual positions. Republicans will kick off and Democrats will receive. Ready? Steady. GO!!

    I am Spincitysd and I await approval of this message.

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