Diplomat: Defense officials refused to send help to Benghazi

A vehicle (R) and the surround buildings burn after they were set on fire inside the U.S. consulate compound in Benghazi late on Sept. 11, 2012.
STR/AFP/Getty Images

(CBS News) A Senate committee will hold a confirmation hearing Tuesday for Deborah Jones to replace Chris Stevens, the ambassador who was among those killed at the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi last September. But now there are new details about that attack from Stevens' former deputy in Libya.

Greg Hicks, a veteran diplomat and Stevens' hand-picked No. 2 in Libya, describes in newly-released excerpts from his interview with congressional investigators his frustration as repeated requests for military help that night that four Americans were killed were turned down.

Hicks told congressional investigators that as the Benghazi attack unfolded in two waves over eight hours, he repeatedly called defense officials to ask if they could "scramble a fighter...or two over Benghazi" to scare the insurgents away.

"The answer," he said, "was it's too far away...there is nothing."

Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., who chairs the House Oversight Committee, said, "He was basically shut down and ostracized."

Hicks and two other State Department officials will testify before the committee on Wednesday.

CBS News' Nancy Cordes asked Issa, "Hicks says that there was a special unit that was right there in Tripoli, that was ready to go to Benghazi, but they were told to stand down. Why?"

Issa responded, "This is one of the most disturbing parts of Gregory Hicks' testimony is that assets were available, they were military in nature, they were the best-trained, best-equipped and most likely to be able to save lives and they were taken off the plane."

Hicks said, "I believe if we had been able to scramble a fighter...or aircraft or two over Benghazi as quickly as possible...the Libyans would have split."

Administration officials insist no military resources could have made it in time. On Monday, spokesmen at the White House and State Department deflected questions about Hicks: one spokesperson said, "In terms of these potential transcripts out there, we haven't seen the transcripts."

Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., who will attend Wednesday's hearings says the State Department's own investigation was sufficient. He said recently, "This is the ninth set of hearings or briefings the Republicans have had trying to make something stick."

The hearing on Wednesday is expected to be contentious, Cordes reported on "CBS This Morning," adding, "Hicks no longer works in Libya. He's now at the State Department here in Washington and he will be the star witness."

For more on this story, watch Cordes' full report in the video above.