An essential follow-up to yesterday’s CNN bombshell. Skip to 2:30 if you don’t have time for it all. The implication, very clearly, is that this is being done not to protect intelligence assets from terrorist retribution but to “protect” them from Republicans asking inconvenient questions. Which isn’t the first time the GOP’s had trouble talking to relevant personnel: Marine Col. George Bristol was somehow indisposed for months, with the Pentagon unwilling to reveal his whereabouts to investigators, before the House Armed Services Committee finally landed him for a classified briefing this past week.

New from Fox:

Fox News has learned that at least five CIA employees were forced to sign additional nondisclosure agreements this past spring in the wake of the Benghazi attack. These employees had already signed such agreements before the attack but were made to sign new agreements aimed at discouraging survivors from leaking their stories to the media or anyone else…

Lawmakers penned a letter earlier this week to newly confirmed FBI Director James Comey urging him to aggressively identify and pursue the [Benghazi] suspects.

“It has been more than 10 months since the attacks. We appear to be no closer to knowing who was responsible today than we were in the early weeks following the attack,” they wrote. “This is simply unacceptable.”

My theory for why the FBI’s been keeping its distance from the Benghazi jihadis is that the White House doesn’t do want to do anything rash, like order a wave of captures and arrests, that might further destabilize the Libyan government. There’s an obvious alternative explanation, though, after yesterday’s CNN report: If the CIA and White House are so paranoid about info on Benghazi leaking that they’d try to intimidate American operatives into silence, maybe they don’t want the FBI investigating what happened. The more the Bureau knows, the greater the chance that someone there will leak. Assuming there’s something to the theory that the CIA was helping Libyan jihadis send weapons to Syria, what happens if a team of FBI sits down with someone who knows what was going on and he spills the beans?

Of course, that raises the question of why the attackers — some of whom have been interviewed by U.S. media — haven’t already spilled the beans to reporters. Maybe they fear that if they say something, then the White House is sure to target them; if they keep quiet, could be that they’ll be let off the hook. Then again, that same logic applied to Snowden and he calculated, not unreasonably, that his best defense was to ID himself precisely because it would make the feds think twice about taking him out. If you’re a Benghazi jihadi, what’s the smarter way to keep Uncle Sam’s hands off of you — lie low and hope that he doesn’t come knocking on the door, or step into the spotlight so that he can’t kill you without the whole world perceiving it as an attempt to silence a key witness?

All of which is to say, if this really was some sort of arms-smuggling operation, why have none of the bad guys confirmed it yet?