On Wednesday morning, cable news viewers, free of the latest crime and trial news, were actually provided something of real value. For about a half-hour, Gregory Hicks, former deputy chief of mission in Libya, provided a riveting, emotional first-hand account of the Sept. 11, 2012, terrorist attack in Libya that killed U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans.
Hicks' account was from someone who was actually in Libya at the time. He described the heroism of U.S. personnel in Benghazi trying to ward off the major attack by the terrorist group Ansar al Sharia, which occurred in waves throughout the night and into the morning. Hicks also recounted the efforts of those in Tripoli to get help to their colleagues under attack and prepare for a possible attack in Tripoli. They destroyed hard drives, loaded weapons into vehicles and went in a safe annex. Their actions, under the most dangerous of conditions, deserve our highest praise.
The hearings feature whistle blowers, including Hicks, who are unhappy with how Obama administration recapped the terrorist attack. These include the administration's persistence in pitching the now-discredited claim that a YouTube video was the catalyst for the terrorist attack. In testimony on Wednesday, a Sept. 12 email -- provided for the first time -- from U.S. acting assistant secretary for Near Eastern Affairs Beth Jones, describes the attack as a terrorist act. This is interesting news because for 11 days after the attack, the Obama administration was still blaming the incident on the YouTube video. Also, the Jones email seems to contradict the administration's claims that the YouTube excuse was based on its best intelligence available at the time.
The high partisan divide in Congress will likely taint the hearings. Republicans will look for the worst, Democrats will bend over backwards to defend the administration. That's a shame, because we can learn a lot from these hearings, and it's not necessary to cast participants as villains. No serious person disputes the high character of Hicks and the other witnesses. Their testimony should be listened to closely, and hopefully our leaders can learn information to help avoid a repeat of what occurred in Benghazi and its aftermath.