World

Fourth Benghazi witness gagged by red tape

Photo of Neil Munro
Neil Munro
White House Correspondent

Obama administration officials are finally letting the attorney for a Benghazi whistle-blower get a security clearance — but the clearance is at such a low level that it will probably slow the congressional probe of how the administration handled last year’s terrorist attack on the embassy in Benghazi, Libya.

Victoria Toensing represents an unnamed government official who can help explain the reaction of top government officials to the jihadi attack on the U.S diplomatic site in Benghazi and killed four Americans last Sept. 11.

The official may also be able to explain if officials rewrote intelligence reports and took other actions to minimize media coverage of the administration’s errors and the perceived role of Al Qaeda jihadis.

At least three officials will testify today at a House hearing about the scandal, and are expected to say top officials at the Department of State took actions to minimize political damage to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. In the days after the attack, officials claimed the attack had resulted from a spontaneous demonstration against an anti-Muslim film. That story was quickly refuted, although the filmmaker was arrested on a probation violation and remains in prison.

Toensing’s client will not be able to testify at public or closed-door hearings because he or she has not been able to prepare classified testimony with the aid of a lawyer, Toensing told The Daily Caller.

Toensing, who previously held top-level security clearances while working as a Deputy Attorney General at the Justice Department’s anti-terrorism unit, has asked government officials to update her past clearances to let her work with her client. But the officials initially refused to provide her with the needed forms, she said.

Officials have now provided a 42-page security clearance form, which Toensing filled out and returned, she told TheDC. But the form is only for a basic security clearance, not a “top secret” clearance, she said.

That’s “not sufficient,” she said.

Toensing said she and her client have talked extensively about unclassified events. But they can’t talk freely about classified event or actions, even in a private conversation.

Toensing said she’s now pushing officials to get the higher clearance, she said, to ensure that her client is prepared to explain fully what happened to legislators during top-secret hearings.

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