Mark Thompson gave a brief response to Chairman Issa’s question on whether he thought it was a terrorist’s attack, “Yes.”
Issa then proceeded to ask Gregory Hicks for his timeline of that attack.
Hicks said that the day of the attack was a routine day until they say news of the earlier Cairo embassy-storming attempt. He informed his superior, Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens of the attempt.
Later in the day he received a message the attack had started. He went to the tactical operations center, while on the phone with the ambassador. The call was cut due to poor cell performance. After reaching the center, Hicks received more information about the attack and next called the annex chief to activate their emergency response team.
He then called the operations center at the State Department to report the attack and their response. He then called senior officials in Libya to request assistance from the local government. After that was done he reported it to Washington.
According to Hicks, the night unfolded in four phases. There was an attack on the diplomatic annex. The villa was invaded were several of the casualties were. The 6 person response team from Bengazhi managed to temporarily clear the diplomatic compound. The body of Shawn Smith was pulled out during this time. There was a second wave of attackers and the teams evacuated to another location.
The second phase commenced when the team returned to the annex later in the night. They suffered several probing attacks but repelled them. The Tripoli response team begins to arrive during this phase.
Phase three is when the ambassador’s body was recovered. Reports came out that the ambassador was taken to hospital that was suspect to be controlled by Islamic militants. Hicks received conflicted reports of the location of the ambassador. He then received reports that the embassy in Tripoli was under attack and the staff prepared to evacuate. He is also keeping Washington informed
At 2:00 A.M. he receives a call from Sec. of State Clinton; They mostly talked about the search of the ambassador and the need to evacuate. Clinton agrees with evacuation. The PM of Libya called around 3:00 A.M. to inform Hicks of the ambassadors’ death. Hicks immediately telephoned Washington of the news.
The team destroyed all of the information in the annex as is standard US diplomatic procedure. They decided to evacuate at dawn and arrived at another compound. The mortar attack started when they arrived. The attack killed several.
Hicks claims that they were in them process of evacuating to a plane but the security officer who was in charge did not have authorization to go ahead.