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Hearing: Jets Might Have Prevented Mortar Attack on Benghazi Compound

The burnt U.S. consulate in Benghazi a day after the attack. Photo by Gianluigi Guercia/AFP/Getty Images.

Updated Wednesday 3:40 p.m. ET:

Gregory Hicks, deputy chief of mission in Tripoli, Libya, during the time of the 2012 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, testified at a House hearing Wednesday that a second mortar attack on the compound might have been prevented if his calls for jet fighters had been heeded.

There were two waves of attacks on the U.S. facility in Benghazi the night of Sept. 11, 2012, that ended up killing U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans.

Hicks said he was told the fighters could reach Libya in several hours to try to fend off attackers, but U.S. military officials later said it would have taken more like 20 hours since the aircraft weren’t on alert status. (Read his full testimony.)

Video streaming by Ustream Wednesday’s House hearing on Benghazi compound assault.

Original Story:

Gregory Hicks, deputy chief of mission in Tripoli, Libya, during the time of the 2012 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, reportedly told House investigators that U.S. officials in Libya knew the assault on the compound was a premeditated terrorist attack from the start. He’ll be testifying at a House Oversight Committee hearing on Wednesday.

“I think everybody in the mission thought it was a terrorist attack from the beginning,” Hicks said, according to a transcript supplied to CBS News’ “Face the Nation”.

His testimony would contradict what U.S. officials, including U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice, told media outlets in the days following the deadly attack that it stemmed from a spontaneous demonstration against an Internet video depicting the Muslim Prophet Muhammad — rather than a preplanned siege.

Hicks said in the investigation that U.S. Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens would have reported a demonstration, but instead he said the compound was “under attack.” Stevens was one of four Americans killed during the raid on the consulate on Sept. 11, 2012.

Also testifying at the hearing are Mark Thompson, acting deputy assistant secretary for counterterrorism (read his testimony), and Eric Nordstrom, diplomatic security officer and former regional security officer in Libya (read his testimony), both of the State Department.

The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform is chaired by Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif. The hearing begins at 11:30 a.m. ET.

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