Here's a complicated sentence: Fox News reports that "at least four career officials at the State Department and the Central Intelligence Agency" have retained lawyers after being threatened by the Obama administration. It continues: Apparently, Obama's goons are going after them ahead of their revealing key information related to what really happened at the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, on September 11, 2012. Finally: The Obama administration has no idea what they're talking about.
First of all, remember Benghazi? It's been nearly eight months since the confusing terrorist attack took the lives of four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens. The administration's doublespeak — though some say it's just a series of misunderstandings — has become a sticking point for conservatives, almost to a perplexing degree. They just won't let this scandal die, despite the administration's spilling its guts and releasing seemingly everything they've got on the tragedy. At a certain point, though, it ceases to become a campaign trail trick and starts to become a conspiracy theory.
We're not there yet. However, this Fox News scoop is sort of strange. The story claims that the whistleblowers are not only being threatened but also denied security clearances. The network tracked down Victoria Toensing, "a former Justice Department official and Republican counsel to the Senate Intelligence Committee," who's representing the four would be whistleblowers. "It's frightening, and they're doing some very despicable threats to people," she said. "Not 'we're going to kill you,' or not 'we're going to prosecute you tomorrow,' but they're taking career people and making them well aware that their careers will be over [if they cooperate with congressional investigators]." It's only slightly shady that Toensign has also written opinion columns for Fox News.
Meanwhile, the Obama administration has no idea what Toensing is talking about. You wouldn't know that from reading the Fox News piece — not unless you read to very end of it. "I'm not aware of private counsel seeking security clearances or -- or anything to that regard," State Department spokesman Patrick Ventrell told the press on Monday. "I'm not aware of whistle-blowers one way or another."
So then what the heck is going on? Regardless of which side of the aisle you're standing on, this is somehow still a provocative issue. Or it's not, and conservatives are trying to keep the flame alive, perhaps in some far-fetched hope that it might ignite a scandal ahead of the mid-term elections. However, the whistleblower thing is a larger issue, one that the Obama administration hasn't done the best job supporting. Despite the fact that Obama's often said he supports whistleblowers within the government, there is some evidence that his administration's been somewhat selective about what constitutes acceptable whistleblowing and what's criminal. One only needs to look as far as the Bradley Manning case to realize that one man's freedom fighting is another man's treason.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.