According to Fox News, four officials at the State Department and the CIA who are preparing to provide sensitive information to Congress about the attacks last September 11 on two U.S. diplomatic compounds in Benghazi, Libya, have now retained lawyers as they are being threatened by members of the Obama administration. The attacks killed four Americans, including Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens. Ten others were injured.
A lawyer for one of the whistleblowers is Victoria Toensing, a former Justice Department official and Republican counsel to the Senate Intelligence Committee. She stated in an interview Monday, “I’m not talking generally, I’m talking specifically about Benghazi — that people have been threatened. And not just [officials in] the State Department. People have been threatened at the CIA.”
Fox News reports:
Toensing disclosed that her [unnamed] client has pertinent information on all three time periods investigators consider relevant to the attacks: the months that led up to the attack, when pleas by the ambassador and his staff for enhanced security in Benghazi were mostly rejected by senior officers at the State Department; the eight-hour time frame in which the attacks unfolded, and the eight-day period that followed the attacks, when Obama administration officials incorrectly described them as the result of a spontaneous protest over a video.
“It’s frightening, and they’re doing some very despicable threats to people,” she said. “Not ‘we’re going to kill you,’ or not ‘we’re going to prosecute you tomorrow,’ but they’re taking career people and making them well aware that their careers will be over [if they cooperate with congressional investigators].”
Prior to this revelation, Senator Lindsey Graham had suggested Obama administration officials were blocking access to the witnesses of the Benghazi attacks and telling them to “keep quiet.” The administration quickly dismissed the allegations.
Though a federal law allegedly assures government whistleblowers that there will be no retaliation from their superiors in the event that they provide information to Congress about corruption in their departments, this is not the first time that those brave enough to come forward and reveal wrongdoing have faced repercussions.
For instance, agent Vince Cefalu of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (still known as ATF) was served termination papers after he blew the whistle on the gunwalking scandal of his department known as “Fast and Furious,” in which the ATF provided thousands of firearms through straw purchasers to Mexican drug cartels. Peter Forcelli, one of the first to report to a House panel on the controversial operation, has also claimed that after his testimony, he faced retribution. Prosecutors in Arizona “made false accusations in an effort to discredit me,” he said, adding that the majority of the retaliation came from the U.S. attorney’s office in Phoenix.
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