“I had no involvement to any degree with decisions on security and the funding of security at our diplomatic mission in Benghazi,” [Raymond Maxwell] said…
The State Department declined to comment on the reasons that Maxwell and the other officials were placed on administrative leave, or on what the four were told about the reasons for the decision. It did confirm that the ARB did not recommend direct disciplinary action because it didn’t find misconduct or a direct breach of duty by the officials. “As a matter of policy, we don’t speak to specific personnel matters,” said State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki.
Since the leave is not considered a formal disciplinary action, Maxwell has no means to appeal the status, as he would if he had been outright fired. To this day, he says, nobody from the State Department has ever told him why he was singled out for discipline. He has never had access to the classified portion of the ARB report, where all of the details regarding personnel failures leading up to Benghazi are confined. He also says he has never been shown any evidence or witness testimony linking him to the Benghazi incident.
There’s nothing like being shamed in front of the nation for your role in a terror attack that killed an ambassador while the precise charges against you remain scrupulously secret. A source who spoke to the Daily Beast claims that the classified ARB section accuses Maxwell of not having read his daily security briefings (a charge he doesn’t directly deny), but the relevance of that vis-a-vis Benghazi depends on whether he had any responsibility for diplomatic security in the city. He says he had none; if that’s true, why is he being punished in the first place? And why is a deputy assistant secretary being singled out for punishment when the ARB report pointed the finger at the assistant secretaries?
But wait. It gets better:
The decision to place Maxwell on administrative leave was made by Clinton’s chief of staff Cheryl Mills, according to three State Department officials with direct knowledge of the events. On the day after the unclassified version of the ARB’s report was released in December, Mills called Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Beth Jones and directed her to have Maxwell leave his job immediately.
If that name sounds familiar, it should. Cheryl Mills is a long-trusted member of the Clintons’ inner circle and was identified by Greg Hicks in his testimony before Issa’s committee as having been very upset when she found out he’d spoken to Republican Benghazi investigators without a State Department lawyer present. Hicks claimed that was the first time in 22 years he’d received an order to bring along a legal chaperone when meeting visiting dignitaries. So Mills is the one that wanted Hicks to keep his mouth shut, and evidently she’s also the one who thought Maxwell, not a more senior person like Beth Jones who’s closer in the hierarchy to Hillary, should be placed on leave for security lapses with which he evidently had nothing to do. In fact, per the Beast, one official at State claims that Maxwell was supposed to be quietly reinstated and reassigned to another department once the spotlight on Benghazi had dimmed — which shows you how serious State is about imposing any sort of real discipline over the attack, even on its scapegoats — but that Mills eventually nixed that arrangement. Why?
Mills has to testify. She may be the only person, possibly apart from Hillary herself, who can explain State’s suspicious maneuverings after the attack.