Victoria Toensing is legal counsel for one of the State Department officials who claims that the Obama administration has threatened them and others into silence regarding the terrorist attack in Benghazi on Sept. 11, 2012. That attack left four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens, dead. The Obama administration blamed the attack on a YouTube video for more than two weeks despite evidence during the attack that it was the work of terrorists. Toensing is a former deputy assistant attorney general, was the first head of the Department of Justice’s Terrorism Unit, and is widely respected on both sides of the aisle in Washington.
Toensing appeared on the Andrea Tantaros Show today and accused the State Department of slow-walking the process for Benghazi whistleblowers to obtain the legal counsel that they are due.
“I had heard about all of these threats about people, about a month ago, and offered to represent one,” Toensing told Tantaros. Toensing took up the case for free in the interests of making sure the person had strong representation. “Let me just tell you what’s happening. The State Department is playing games with their words,” Toensing said, “to say ‘Well, we don’t know of any employee who’s come forward who wants counsel.’” Toensing said that the proper procedure is not to send someone into the “lion’s den” at the State Department and request a lawyer. Instead, State was supposed to send Rep. Darrell Issa, who chairs the House Oversight Committee which is investigating the Benghazi attack, the standards by which the whistleblowers’ counsel may be cleared to work on their cases. But according to Toensing, the State Department has dragged its feet for more than two weeks. Ten days after Toensing first became involved, she says State had not even responded to Issa at all. She says Issa then sent a letter directly to Secretary of State John Kerry about the matter, and received no response. It was only after State’s repeated silence, going all the way to Secretary Kerry himself, that Toensing decided to go public with her client’s claims.
Toensing told Tantaros that President Obama’s answer on the matter during Tuesday’s press conference was revealing.
“The president then says he doesn’t know anything,” Toensing noted, “but did you notice the word ‘notion’? He had thought about that ahead of time, and was minimizing it. The ‘notion’ about people being stopped. You don’t use that word, it doesn’t just fall out of your mouth.”
According to a transcript of the press conference, President Obama told Fox News’ Ed Henry that “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. 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.”