At the outset of his presidency in 2009, Barack Obama promised to run the most transparent White House in history.
On Wednesday, Gregory Hicks, the former deputy chief of mission under slain Ambassador Christopher Stevens, testified to members of the House Oversight Committee about the terrorist attacks on the U.S. diplomatic facility in Benghazi. Hicks is no right-wing plant by Republicans. He backed Hillary Clinton in the 2008 primary and then voted for Obama for president.
What sets Hicks apart from other hacks within this administration is his search for the truth over what happened when Ambassador Stevens and three other Americans were killed on Sept. 11, 2012. It's hard for Democrats to trash Hicks since he won the praise of Obama and Hillary Clinton BEFORE he announced he would return to the U.S. and testify.
Hicks, however, received a "blistering critique" of his management style and said he was effectively "demoted" after questioning United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice's explanation that the Benghazi attack was the result of a YouTube video.
"I've been effectively demoted from deputy chief of mission," said Hicks who now holds the title of foreign affairs officer in the Office of Global Intergovernmental Affairs.
So much for White House transparency and dealing with those who dare to challenge the party line of the administration to get at the truth.
Hicks' riveting testimony further damaged the credibility of the Obama administration.
Pennsylvania Rep. Scott Perry of York County, a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, believes that the administration's failure to vigorously pursue investigations on Benghazi, the Fast and Furious gun running disaster, and more recently, the Boston Marathon bombings, has made Americans more wary about public safety.
"This administration hasn't been forthcoming with information on other cases that are important to the American people, namely Benghazi," Perry said in a recent interview. "So pardon us for being skeptical and questioning the validity of the claims that nobody else is involved. We're concerned about our personal safety and we should be."
Perry's committee joined four other House Committees in delivering the Interim Progress Report on the terrorist attacks in Benghazi. The report shews that reductions in security levels prior to the attacks were approved at the highest levels of the State Department. It also found that in the days after the attacks, White House and senior State Department officials altered accurate talking points drafted by the intelligence community in order to cover up State Department responsibility.
Hicks' testimony was very damaging to U.N. Ambassador Rice and Secretary of State Clinton, who tried to sell the flimsy story about a YouTube video to the American people. Hicks testified that when Clinton had called him at 2 a.m., while the Benghazi attacks were underway, he told her they would need to evacuate, to which she agreed. He said she knew at that time how desperate it was at the facility.
"We wanted to send more reinforcements to Benghazi...the people in Benghazi had been fighting all night... but he (Lt. Colonel Gibson) told me he had not been authorized to go," Hicks testified. "The vehicles needed to go...Lt. Colonel Gibson was furious...I had told him to bring our people home. Apparently no one had been authorized to go."
Hicks said when he talked to Clinton that there was no mention of any offensive YouTube video, yet days after the attacks, Rice, Clinton and Obama continued to peddle the lame story.
Hicks said when he heard the story about the video being the impetus of the attack, he was stunned and embarrassed.
It's been over eight months since the Benghazi attack and transparency is not the word to describe the Obama administration's attempt to get at the truth.
Cover up is more accurate.
By Jim Zbick