WASHINGTON – Attorney Victoria Toensing said Wednesday she will ask the State Department’s inspector general to launch an investigation into claims that employees there leaked personal information on her whistle-blower client to members of the media as an intimidation tactic ahead of a recent hearing on the Benghazi attack.
Toensing’s client, Gregory Hicks, testified before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on May 8. Hicks is the former deputy chief of mission who was in Benghazi, Libya, at the time of the Sept. 11, 2012, attack that killed four Americans.
Toensing said State Department officials have told reporters that U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens, who died in the attack, could not reach Hicks on the telephone to tell him about the attack because Hicks didn’t have his phone on him and was too busy relaxing and watching television. It’s an accusation Hicks has strongly refuted.
“It’s a criminal offense to interfere with any federal employee’s right to bring information to Congress,” Toensing told Fox News.
Hicks was one of two so-called whistle-blowers who came forward in recent weeks and months. During the congressional hearings that followed, it was revealed that widespread mismanagement at the State Department added to the confusion and miscommunication the night of the attack and the in the days that followed.
Allegations of government officials leaking personal information or retaliating against whistle-blowers are not new.
On Monday, the Justice Department inspector general said that one of the department’s politically appointed officials retaliated against a Fast and Furious whistle-blower by leaking derogatory information to a Fox News television producer.
Fast and Furious was the name of a federal gun-trafficking program that began in Arizona in 2009 and ended two years later after the death of Border Patrol agent Brian Terry -- guns from the program were found at his murder scene. The program led to the sale of more than 2,000 guns to suspected criminals thought to be linked to Mexican drug cartels.