Obama Denies Knowledge of State Department Blocking Benghazi Testimony

Fred Lucas | April 30, 2013 | 12:50pm EDT
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President Barack Obama arrives for a news conference in Washington, Tuesday, April 30, 2013. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

(CNSNews.com) – President Barack Obama denied any knowledge of State Department employees being prohibited from testifying on the Benghazi terrorist attack that killed four Americans last September, but said he would find out.

During a presidential news conference Tuesday, a reporter asked, “On the Benghazi question, I know pieces of the story have been litigated, and you've been asked about it. But there are people in your own State Department saying they've been blocked from coming forward, that they survived the terror attack and they want to tell their story. Will you help them come forward and just say it once and for all?”

Obama responded, “Ed, I'm not familiar with this notion that anybody's been blocked from testifying. So what I'll do is I will find out what exactly you're referring to.”

But the president repeated his administration was committed to finding out the truth about the attack that killed, four Americans including U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens in Libya.

“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, but I'll find out what exactly you're referring to,” Obama said.

The reporter followed, “They hired an attorney, because they're saying that they've been blocked from coming forward.”

Obama responded, “I’m not familiar with it.”

On Friday, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, sent a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry outlining the State Department’s obstruction into the investigation of the Benghazi terror attack.

Issa said obstruction includes unusual restrictions on documents, threats to destroy oversight committee property, and attempts to hinder whistleblowers from obtaining legal representation cleared to view classified information.

“During the course of the Committee’s investigation, numerous individuals have come forward with information related to the Benghazi attack,” Issa wrote in the letter. “Some witnesses may be required to retain personal counsel to represent them before the Committee and in case the Department retaliates against them for cooperating with the Committee’s investigation.

“Additional witnesses may be compelled by subpoena to give testimony to the Committee and can be reasonably expected to retain personal counsel at that time. In each case, witnesses may need to share sensitive or classified information with their lawyers. The Department’s unwillingness to make the process for clearing an attorney more transparent appears to be an effort to interfere with the rights of employees to furnish information to Congress.”

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