Congressman: CIA suspends Benghazi survivor over refusal to sign NDA

CIA Director John Brennan assured Congress last week that the agency was not forcing survivors of the Benghazi attack a year ago to sign non-disclosure agreements or take polygraphs.  In a handwritten addendum to a letter sent to the House Intelligence Committee, Brennan assured chair Mike Rogers that “I will not tolerate any effort to prevent our intelligence oversight committee from doing their jobs,” and in the body of the letter stated that “I am unaware of any officer who has been threatened with reprisals.” Rogers announced his plan to proceed with subpoenas for the survivors in order to finally get their testimony — more than a year later.

But did Brennan tell the truth? Rep. Frank Wolf says one survivor claims to have been suspended from the CIA for refusing to sign the NDA (via The Right Scoop):

A CIA employee who refused to sign a non-disclosure agreement barring him from discussing the Sept. 11, 2012 terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya, has been suspended as a result and forced to hire legal counsel, according to a top House lawmaker.

Rep. Frank Wolf (R., Va.) revealed at an event on Monday that his office was anonymously informed about the CIA employee, who is purportedly facing an internal backlash after refusing to sign a legal document barring him from publicly or privately discussing events surrounding the Benghazi attack.

The revelation comes about a month after several media outlets reported that CIA employees with knowledge of the terror attack had been forced to sign non-disclosure agreements (NDA) and submit to regular polygraph tests.

“The reports on the NDA are accurate. We’re getting people who call,” Wolf said Monday during an event marking the launch of the Citizens’ Commission on Benghazi, a panel of former military and intelligence officials who are investigating unanswered questions surrounding the Benghazi incident. …

“I called the law firm and spoke with CIA employee’s attorney who confirmed that her client is having an issue with the agency and the firm is trying to address it,” Wolf said. “Based on my past experiences with the CIA, which is headquartered in my congressional district, I am not at all confident that these efforts will be successful.”

The NDA issue is a curious one, in part because it involves CIA agents who already are bound by clearance requirements to keep classified data to themselves.  The clearance doesn’t prevent cleared personnel from briefing Congress in matters of whistleblowing and oversight, but then again, neither would NDAs — once a subpoena is issued, anyway.  An NDA can’t prevent Congress from conducting its constitutional duty for oversight any more than it can keep a witness to a crime from testifying in court.

Assuming that the CIA is doing this — and we’ve heard from multiple sources that they have — why bother?  Apparently they are intent on using every technique to bluster witnesses into silence, no matter how weak those techniques might be.  If that’s the case, what benefit does the CIA have in keeping silent on Benghazi?  The agency has leaked quite a bit of information on the subject already in its immediate aftermath after State tried shifting the blame onto Langley in the aftermath of the attack (after the YouTube video excuse collapsed, anyway).  Most of the focus for the failure has been on State and the White House, with some left over for the Pentagon over the lack of military response to rescue the remnants during the second attack wave.  If that was the whole story, one might expect the CIA to make sure Congress knew it.  What may have changed their minds?

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