Gregory Hicks testifies before House
Gregory Hicks, foreign service officer and former deputy chief of mission/charge d’affairs in Libya at the State Department, testifies before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. (Reuters/Yuri Gripas)

Those were the words of Gregory Hicks, the deputy chief of mission in Benghazi, in describing his reaction to Susan Rice’s testimony the Sunday after the Benghazi attack on Sept. 11, 2012. What preceded that was some of the most chilling testimony in memory, a blow-by-blow account of the waves of attacks, including “precisely” fired mortars, and the death of Ambassador Stevens at a hospital controlled by the same jihadist (Ansar al-Sharia, the Libyan version of al-Qaeda) attacking the U.S. installation.

Hicks described the progression of the battle and his call directly with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in which he pleaded for help. Planes were never sent from Aviano, Italy. Hicks believes they could have arrived in time to save the lives of two Americans killed during the mortar attack. That, of course, is unknowable since we did not try. But we do know there was no video demonstration. No one on the ground thought this was anything other than a planned, coordinated terrorist attack.

In an opening statement prior to Hicks’s testimony Ed Nordstrom, the State Department counterterrorism officer, choked up as he responded to the “What difference does it matter?” remark months ago from Clinton. He declared, ” It matters to me personally. It matters to my colleagues, to my colleagues at the Department of State. It matters to the American public for whom we serve. And most importantly, excuse me. It matters to the friends and family of, of Ambassador Stevens, Sean Smith, Glen Doherty, Tyrone Woods who were murdered on September 11th, 2012.” Thunk. That’s precisely why, again contrary to the media narrative, Clinton’s Benghazi testimony is likely to plague her.

Listening to the testimony, which made it clear that Clinton and the White House told a version of events entirely at odds with these first-hand accounts (blaming a video for the spontaneous attack, declaring there was no evidence it was a premeditated attack), one is left stunned. How did we get from those set of facts laid out by the witnesses to the White House storyline? Why weren’t those forces sent and why did Obama officials previous say no forces had been ordered and then told to stand down?

What also came through was the magnificent bravery and dedication of Americans under attack who were carrying ammunition, destroying top secret data (as they are required) and rising to the occasion in every way. This is not only a scandal and a national security failure but a betrayal of heroic people on the ground.

It is well past the time for a full accounting and for White House officials to be interviewed on what occurred and why. And, contrary to the mainstream media and pundit water-carriers, this really is a major story that should have been covered diligently from the beginning.

UPDATE: In two blockbuster bits of testimony, Hicks stated that Cheryl Mills, Clinton confidante (and her husband’s impeachment lawyer) called him to instruct him not to speak with a congressional delegation and specifically Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah); meanwhile, Nordstrom indicated that State’s Accountability Review Board never interviewed the top decision makers in the department.

UPDATE II: Hicks definitively stated, “The YouTube video was a nonevent in Libya.” So if he briefed Hillary Clinton that night, as he previously testified, where did the story come from?

Jennifer Rubin writes the Right Turn blog for The Post, offering reported opinion from a conservative perspective.