Election 2020

Top Benghazi Witness Joins Kasich's National Security Team

Gregory Hicks, former deputy chief of mission in Libya, shakes hands with members of the House Oversight Committee at the close of a six-hour hearing on the Benghazi attack May 8, 2013. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Ohio Gov. John Kasich has bulked up his campaign with a new national security team, including the former deputy chief of mission in Libya who was the star witness at congressional hearings on the Benghazi attack.

Gregory Hicks served in the State Department for 22 years with missions including Bahrain, Afghanistan, Yemen, Syria, and The Gambia. At the time of the Sept. 11, 2012, terrorist attack on diplomatic facilities in Benghazi, he was the No. 2 U.S. official in Libya behind late Ambassador Chris Stevens.

Hicks told the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee that he immediately knew it was a terrorist attack and was denied when he asked for military support, having been told that the nearest U.S. fighter planes were in Italy and it would take a few hours to get them in the air.

“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,” Hicks told committee staffers. “The Libyans would have split. They would have been scared to death that we would have gotten a laser on them and killed them.”

A year after the attacks, Hicks told ABC News that he was retaliated against — “shunted aside, put in a closet if you will” for his whistleblowing testimony. In September 2013, Hicks became a State Department visiting fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

In January 2014, Hicks slammed a Senate Intelligence Committee report that shifted some blame onto Stevens, stressing “the blame lies entirely with Washington.”

Hicks wrote in the Wall Street Journal that he was interviewed by the committee yet his explanation of why Stevens reportedly “declined” security forces twice before the attack — the reason had to do with ensuring diplomatic immunity for these additional personnel — didn’t make it into the report.

“To sum up: Chris Stevens was not responsible for the reduction in security personnel. His requests for additional security were denied or ignored. Officials at the State and Defense Departments in Washington made the decisions that resulted in reduced security,” Hicks wrote. “Sen. Lindsey Graham stated on the Senate floor last week that Chris ‘was in Benghazi because that is where he was supposed to be doing what America wanted him to do: Try to hold Libya together.’ He added, ‘Quit blaming the dead guy.'”

In August of last year, Hicks was assigned as senior policy advisor and State Department fellow in the office of the House Intelligence Committee chairman, Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.).

Hicks is one of 25 people added to Kasich’s national security team, as announced by the campaign today.

The team also includes Alvin “Buzzy” Krongard, executive director of the CIA under George Tenet; Richard Allen, former national security advisor to President Nixon; George Beebe, former chief of the Russia Analysis Group at the CIA; Frank Cilluffo, former assistant for homeland security to President George W. Bush; Samantha F. Ravich, former principal deputy national security advisor to Vice President Cheney; and Joseph DeTrani, former mission manager for North Korea counterproliferation at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

Lawmakers on Kasich’s team include former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.), former Sen. Gordon Humphrey (R-N.H.), former Sen. John Sununu (R-N.H.), and former House Intelligence chairman Pete Hoekstra (R-Mich.). Kasich served on the House Armed Services Committee for 18 years.