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Rep. Frank Wolf’s (R., Va.) office publicly disclosed on Tuesday the name of the D.C. law firm said to be representing a CIA employee who is allegedly facing backlash for refusing to sign a non-disclosure agreement prohibiting discussion of the Sept. 11, 2012 terror attack in Benghazi, Libya.
The Washington D.C.-based Brownell Law Firm is representing the embattled CIA employee, Wolf’s office confirmed to the Free Beacon late Tuesday.
Wolf’s office said it was anonymously informed about the CIA employee, who is purportedly under fire for refusing to sign a non disclosure agreement (NDA) barring him from publicly or privately discussing events surrounding the Benghazi terror attack.
The CIA has said the accusations are false and no employees are being prevented from discussing matters related to Benghazi or facing repercussions for doing so.
The Brownell firm describes itself as a “national practice defending federal employees,” according to its website.
“Over the last several years, The Brownell Law Firm has represented hundreds of federal employees in the federal forum,” the law firm said on its website. “Our clients work throughout the country, in every branch of government, every department, and virtually every independent agency.”
Bonnie Brownell, the firm’s managing partner, declined to comment.
“We appreciate your interest in the matter for which you were calling our firm,” Brownell said via email. “However, it is our firm policy not to comment on client matters.”
Asked if the firm was representing the CIA employee in question, Brownell declined further comment.
“I am not confirming any information or making a comment about anything,” she said.
Wolf said that he first learned about the employee’s situation earlier this summer, after his office was contacted by anonymous source.
“My office received a call from a man saying that he knew a CIA employee who has retained legal counsel because he has refused to sign an additional NDA regarding the Sept. 11, 2012, events in Benghazi,” Wolf said in a Sept. 9 panel discussion hosted by Judicial Watch.
“I called the law firm and spoke with the CIA employee’s attorney who confirmed that her client is having an issue with the agency and the firm is trying to address it,” Wolf said. “Based on my past experiences with the CIA, which is headquartered in my congressional district, I am not at all confident that these efforts will be successful.”
Wolf reiterated the details of the story on Monday during an event at the Heritage Foundation and his office again confirmed the details late Tuesday.
“We got a call. We called the law firm and they acknowledged they had a client with an issue,” said Daniel Scandling, Wolf’s chief of staff. “We asked [if they wanted assistance on the matter] and they said, ‘No we’re working it out.’”
Scandling reiterated that the office was informed of “an individual at the CIA who has been suspended because he won’t sign an [additional] NDA.”
Wolf’s revelation comes about a month after several media outlets reported that CIA employees with knowledge of the terror attack had been forced to sign additional NDAs and submit to regular polygraph tests.
A CIA spokesman vigorously disputed Wolf’s allegations.
“Anyone making this claim is either badly misinformed or knowingly peddling disinformation for political purposes,” the spokesman said.
Asked to comment about the anonymous employee’s purported attempt to retain legal council, the CIA spokesman said that the agency is not stopping anyone from discussing events surrounding Benghazi.
“All CIA employees and contractors who were in Benghazi during the 2012 attacks were informed that the Agency would support and facilitate any contact they wished to have with the intelligence oversight committees in Congress,” the spokesman said. “To date, some of these officers have already spoken to the intelligence oversight committees on Benghazi.”
“The CIA is not preventing any employee or contractor from communicating with Congress about Benghazi, nor is the Agency engaging in any other behavior to intimidate its officers from speaking with Congress,” the spokesman added. “As part of their employment, CIA employees and contractors are required to sign a standard Classified Non-Disclosure Agreement, which prohibits the unauthorized disclosure of classified information.”
Additionally, the spokesperson cited a letter sent by CIA Director John Brennan to Congress.
Brennan’s letter denies charges the agency has forced employees to sign NDAs and submit to polygraph tests or face consequences.
“I am unaware of any officer who has been threatened with reprisals,” Brennan wrote.