CIA chief sent letter to Benghazi survivors in May
CIA Director John Brennan sent a letter to the survivors of the Benghazi attacks inviting them to share information with congressional committees.
None of the survivors took Brennan up on his offer.
John Brennan, the director of the Central Intelligence Agency, sent a letter to each of the CIA employees who were on the ground during the Benghazi attack on September 11, 2012, inviting them to share information with Congress, according to three sources familiar with the missive. Brennan sent the letter in late May at the behest congressional intelligence committees, whose members remain interested in hearing from the survivors of those attacks.
The letter from Brennan, which remains classified, conveyed a message the CIA leadership was willing to support and facilitate communications between the CIA employees involved in the Benghazi attacks and congressional oversight committees. The letter did not generate additional responses from CIA employees in Benghazi.
The disclosure of the existence of Brennan's letter comes amidst renewed interest in the Benghazi attacks and their aftermath triggered in part by a CNN report last week that "dozens of people working for the CIA were on the ground that night" and "the agency is going to great lengths to make sure whatever it was doing remains a secret." According to that report, "some CIA operatives involved in the agency's missions in Libya have been subjected to frequent, even monthly polygraph examinations," part of "an unprecedented attempt to keep the spy agency's Benghazi secrets from ever leaking out."
The congressional inquiries into the Benghazi attacks have been conducted almost entirely without input from those who participated in the fighting or witnessed it firsthand. Congressional intelligence committees have heard directly from just one CIA official who was in Benghazi on September 11, 2012. This official, who has spoken twice with members and staff of the House Intelligence Committee, provided an account that included some new details about the night but largely tracked with the official storyline on the attacks.
Republicans have long alleged that the CIA officials in Benghazi that night-often described as "survivors"-have been silenced. The CNN story offers support for those claims. On Friday, James Rosen of Fox News reported that five CIA personnel in Benghazi were forced to sign non-disclosure agreements, requiring them not to discuss the attack with reporters.
The only way that the CNN story and this story can both be true is if the agency was publicly playing ball with congress while privately threatening the careers of personnel on the ground in Benghazi during the attack. It's hard to imagine that none of the "dozens" of CIA agents and contract employees in Benghazi at the time of the attack didn't want to talk to congress about that night. Some sort of pressure must have been exerted in order to keep everyone in line.
Congress can do very little without more cooperation from the CIA. With the effort the agency has made to silence its employees, it is doubtful they will voluntarily give up anyone.