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Bridget Johnson


November 1, 2012 - 8:02 am

The deputy chief of mission at the U.S. embassy in Tripoli was contacted by a persistent Ambassador Chris Stevens the night of the Benghazi murders, trying to convey that the consulate compound was under attack, a Republican congressman said.

Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), who is chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee on National Security, Homeland Defense and Foreign Operations, relayed on Fox last night a conversation he had with the envoy on a fact-finding trip to Libya shortly after the Sept. 11 attack.

“He’s a good man. His name’s Gregory Hicks. And I — I think he’s trying to do the right thing,” Chaffetz said.

“He said that shortly after 9:40 p.m., what happened is his phone rang. And he didn’t recognize the number, so he didn’t answer it. Then it rang again. Again, he didn’t answer it because he didn’t recognize the number,” he continued. “But then, given the persistence, he did answer it. It was Ambassador Stevens. And Ambassador Stevens was saying, we’re under attack. We’re under attack.”

“Now, I can’t say that he told me specifically that he was asking for help, but that’s kind of what I read into it. He hung up the phone. He immediately called in to Washington, D.C., to trigger all the mechanisms that needed to be put on, and then he wasn’t able to contact them. And there were hours and hours where we didn’t know where our ambassador was.”

Chaffetz said he felt the trauma in Hicks’ voice. “It was hard to listen to. He’s gone through a lot, but he did a great job.”

House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon (R-Calif.) sent President Obama a letter yesterday pressing the commander in chief to detail what directives, if any, he gave the military that night.

“There appears to be a discrepancy between your directive and the actions taken by the Department of Defense. As we are painfully aware, despite the fact that the military had resources in the area, the military did not deploy any assets to secure U.S. personnel in Benghazi during the hours the consulate and the annex were under attack,” McKeon wrote. “I find it implausible that the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Commander of U.S. Africa Command, and the Commander of U.S. European Command would have ignored a direct order from the Commander in Chief.”

Chaffetz lauded as “spot on” the job McKeon is doing as he and other GOPs investigate the scandal.

“I talked specifically to General Ham. He’s a four-star general. He told me personally he did not get a directive from the White House from the president of the United States to engage in the firefight to help protect those people,” Chaffetz said.

“Mr. President, you can’t have it both ways. You can’t say that you’re doing everything you can to protect the people in Benghazi, when we’re under attack, a firefight that starts at 9:40 at night, goes until the wee hours of the morning, and say you did everything when the military did not engage.”

Bridget Johnson is a veteran journalist whose news articles and opinion columns have run in dozens of news outlets across the globe. Bridget first came to Washington to be online editor at The Hill, where she wrote The World from The Hill column on foreign policy. Previously she was an opinion writer and editorial board member at the Rocky Mountain News and nation/world news columnist at the Los Angeles Daily News. She is an NPR contributor and has contributed to USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, National Review Online, Politico and more, and has myriad television and radio credits as a commentator. Bridget is Washington Editor for PJ Media.
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