Obama pledges inquiry on Benghazi survivors’ testimony
By James Rosen
Published May 01, 2013
Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2013/05/01/obama-pledges-inquiry-on-benghazi-survivors-testimony/#ixzz2S3HUQvQH
President Obama said he is unaware of longstanding efforts by
Republican lawmakers to question survivors of the Benghazi attacks but
pledged to investigate the issue.
“I’m not familiar with this notion that anybody has been blocked from
testifying,” the president said during a White House news conference on
Tuesday. “So what I’ll do is I will find out what exactly you’re
Obama’s pledge to find out more came as officials at the State
Department pushed back against allegations -- first aired Monday on Fox
News -- that career employees at the agency have been threatened if they
furnish new information about the Benghazi attacks to members of
“The State Department is deeply committed to meeting its obligation
to protect employees, and the State Department would never tolerate --
tolerate or sanction -- retaliation against whistle-blowers on any
issue, including this one,” spokesman Patrick Ventrell told reporters at
a briefing on Tuesday. “That’s an obligation we take very seriously --
Four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens,
were killed in terrorist attacks on U.S. installations in the port city
of Benghazi, Libya, on the night of Sept. 11, 2012. While the FBI
investigation into the attacks continues, no known instances of any
perpetrators being brought to justice have yet been reported.
Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., chairman of the House Oversight and
Government Reform Committee, will hold the first in a new round of
hearings on the subject on May 8.
In two letters to the State Department, dated April 16 and April 26,
Issa has sought explicit guidance on how attorneys representing
witnesses with knowledge of the Benghazi attacks, including their
prelude and aftermath, can receive the security clearances necessary to
review classified materials.
“Attorneys representing Department personnel in this matter will
require clearance to possess and discuss Top Secret and Sensitive
Compartmented Information,” Issa wrote on April 16 to Mary McLeod, the
principal deputy legal adviser to the State Department.
But Ventrell insisted Tuesday that no such whistle-blowers have come
forward, and no requests for security clearances have been made by
Victoria Toensing, a former Justice Department official and one-time
Republican counsel to the Senate intelligence committee, disclosed on
Monday that she is representing a career State Department official who
identifies himself as a whistle-blower. Toensing said this individual
has been threatened by superiors with career-ending reprisals if he
cooperates with the oversight committee.
“[The State Department has] had two letters from Chairman Issa, one
on April 16, the other one April 26, that specifically say, ‘We want you
to provide a process for clearing a lawyer to receive classified
information,’” Toensing said during an interview Tuesday on “America’s
Newsroom” with Fox News anchor Martha MacCallum. “How can they possibly
get up there and just lie to the press corps?”
Ventrell said that the State Department periodically sends out
notices to the entire staff advising them of the protections afforded
whistle-blowers under federal law, and that such a notice, in accordance
with regular practice every spring, was disseminated just last week.
Interviewed on the Los Angeles campus of the University of Southern
California on Tuesday, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., argued the allegations
of threats and intimidation expose the need for a more comprehensive
probe of the Benghazi affair.
“People do not trust the president and his people,” McCain told Fox News. “That's why we need a select committee.”
Fox News’ Martha MacCallum and Lee Ross contributed to this report.
Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2013/05/01/obama-pledges-inquiry-on-benghazi-survivors-testimony/#ixzz2S3HLlGvh