Benghazi Whistle Blower Demoted for Bad Management, Not Whistle Blowing?
ThinkProgress’ Hayes Brown reports that, contrary to his claim that he was demoted for speaking up on the Benghazi attacks, Gregory Hicks was instead demoted for being a bad manager.
ThinkProgress has talked to staffers based in Libya who counter Hicks’ portrayal of both his own performance and the State Department’s alleged response to him speaking out. A meeting between Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Beth Jones and Hicks took place in Tripoli prior to his removal from Libya, but not under the same circumstances Hicks sought to portray. Counter to Hicks’ story of an unwarranted reassignment, the staff was upset with Hicks’ performance since he was first assigned to Tripoli on July 31, and told Jones as much prior to her meeting with Hicks.
“[Jones] and her aide had one-on-one meetings with us to see if [Hicks] could be guided into being a better leader,” a State Department employee posted to Libya told ThinkProgress. “Literally every single one of us begged for him to be removed from post,” said the employee, who spoke to ThinkProgress on the condition of anonymity, as they were not cleared to discuss personnel issues with the press.
A second State Department employee present in Libya before and during the Benghazi attacks confirmed the meetings occurred. Assistant Secretary Jones’ meetings with the staff prior to Oct. 2 were “entirely” focused on Hicks’ performance, according to this second employee, who also believed that Hicks should be removed from his position. “The group of us who were here during the attacks, we sat here two nights ago and watched [the hearing] with our jaws dropped,” the staffer said, referring to Hicks’ claim that he was demoted out of retribution for speaking out.
The word of two anonymous staffers talking to a pro-Democratic Party outlet isn’t necessarily compelling evidence. And, frankly, the notion that people get removed from positions in government because they’re bad managers is almost amusing. But Brown goes on to detail some specific incidents that lead credence to the idea:
During the aftermath of Benghazi, Hicks showed a lack of diplomatic protocol that both staffers found extremely questionable given the tense times. This includes going to a meeting with the Libyan Prime Minister Mohammed Magarief in a t-shirt, cargo pants, and baseball cap. “I’m too upset to wear a suit,” Hicks allegedly told a staffer. “I want the Libyans to know how upset I am about this attack.”
A senior leader punished for failing to follow the dress code? That, I can believe.