President Barack Obama waved off a question Tuesday about whether his deputies are gagging government employees who are now willing to testify about administration shortcomings before and after the jihadi attack on the U.S. diplomatic facility in Benghazi, Libya.
“I’m not familiar with this notion that anybody has been blocked from testifying. So what I’ll do is I will find out what exactly you’re referring to,” Obama told Fox News’ Ed Henry.
The question followed statements by Victoria Toensing, a D.C. lawyer, that administration officials are blocking efforts by American witnesses to talk freely to their lawyers and Congress.
“I’m not talking generally, I’m talking specifically about Benghazi — that people have been threatened,” Toensing said April 29 in an interview with Fox. “Not just [at] the State Department. People have been threatened at the CIA.”
One witness has hired Toensing after officials tried to stop the witness from testifying about what happened Sept. 11, 2012, when a group of jihadis based in Libya attacked the poorly protected U.S. diplomatic facility at Benghazi. But Toensing has been blocked from getting a routine security clearance that would allow her to talk about the events to the witness, she told The Daily Caller.
The attackers killed four Americans, including the U.S. ambassador.
Immediately after the attack, which took place eight weeks before the 2012 election, White House officials suggested that the attack was prompted by an emotional reaction to a YouTube video that criticized Islam.
The producer of the video was later jailed for a probation violation, and on Sept. 25, Obama told the U.N. General Assembly that “the future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam.”
On April 30, Obama told reporters that “what I’ve been very clear about from the start is that our job with respect to Benghazi has been to find out exactly what happened, to make sure that U.S. embassies not just in the Middle East but around the world are safe and secure, and to bring those who carried it out to justice.”
But he repeated his evasion about the attorney’s security-clearance complaint, saying “I’m not familiar with it.”