Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., said Rice’s comments contradicted statements by Libyan leaders and others who called the attacks pre-meditated assaults by terrorists.
Gowdy said Rice’s comments “perpetuated a demonstrably false narrative.” Hicks, asked his reaction to the Rice’s remarks on the talk shows, said: “I was stunned. My jaw dropped and I was embarrassed.”
Democrats countered with a video clip of Director of National Intelligence James Clapper telling a Senate panel earlier this year that the hit on Rice was unfair.
“She was going on what we were giving her,” Clapper said of the talking points.
Hicks insisted that the second attack in Benghazi could have been prevented if the U.S. military had scrambled jet fighters or sent in a C-130 cargo plane to scare off the insurgents with a show of force. He said he learned in conversations with veteran Libyan revolutionaries that they understood decisive air power after the U.S.-led NATO operation that helped oust Moammar Gadhafi.
“The defense attache said to me that fighter aircraft in Aviano might be able to” get to Benghazi in two to three hours, Hicks said.
Democrats pointed out that this contradicted the testimony of former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who testified before a Senate panel on Feb. 7.
“The bottom line is this: That we were not dealing with a prolonged or continuous assault which could have been brought to an end by a U.S. military response,” Panetta testified. “Very simply, although we had forces deployed to the region, time, distance, the lack of an adequate warning, events that moved very quickly on the ground prevented a more immediate response.”
After the first attack, a security team left Tripoli for Benghazi with two military personnel. Hicks said four members of a special forces team in Tripoli wanted to go in a second wave but were told to stand down.