At least five CIA personnel, including government contractors, were asked to sign a second non-disclosure agreement after the Benghazi terrorist attack, Fox News has learned.
While the three-page NDA, obtained by Fox News, does not contain specific references to the 2012 attack which killed four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens, it does contain standard language that unauthorized disclosures could lead to "temporary loss of pay or termination" and "in some circumstances, constitute a criminal offense."
Sources not authorized to speak on the record, given the sensitivity of this week's closed-door testimony before the House Intelligence Committee, said the five CIA personnel did not feel pressure to sign the document. But they felt the request for a second non-disclosure agreement after the terrorist attack was odd and not standard practice because their original NDA's were still in effect, and only some in the group were undergoing contract modifications that might require a new NDA.
The House Intelligence Committee is trying to determine who at the agency -- or within the administration -- thought a second NDA was necessary, whether the motivation was to send a message that the agency operation and response to the attack should not be discussed and why CIA personnel in Benghazi were apparently the only agency personnel who were asked to sign a second NDA.
The timing is also of interest to the committee as the request was made when the CIA team from Benghazi was together as a group for the first time at a memorial service for the two former Navy SEALs, Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty, who were killed in a mortar attack defending the CIA annex. Fox News is told the CIA personnel were taken to a room where folders were laid out on a tabletop with paperwork including the NDAs
While not addressing specific allegations, CIA spokesman Todd D. Ebitz gave Fox the following statement: “CIA contractors routinely sign secrecy agreements, which are standard forms.No CIA officer has ever signed a secrecy agreement that referenced Benghazi or that prohibited them from talking to Congress. In fact, CIA secrecy agreements specifically note an officer’s right to bring issues to the attention of Congress.Furthermore, Director Brennan extended to all Benghazi survivors an invitation to speak to Congress and indicated the Agency would support their interaction.Severalhave spoken to CIA’s oversight committees.”
The lawyer representing three contractors who testified this week on the Hill has declined to discuss the men's case, referring to them only as members of an "elite security team."
Catherine Herridge is an award-winning Chief Intelligence correspondent for FOX News Channel (FNC) based in Washington, D.C. She covers intelligence, the Justice Department and the Department of Homeland Security. Herridge joined FNC in 1996 as a London-based correspondent.