Raymond Maxwell, one of four State Department employees recently disciplined by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, made headlines this month for penning slightly cryptic verses critical of the agency’s handling of the Sept. 11, 2012, terrorist attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi.
And now Maxwell, who was placed on forced “administrative leave” despite his claim had no role in consulate-related security issues, is back in the news for ditching the poetry and outright accusing former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton of making him the Benghazi scapegoat.
“The overall goal is to restore my honor,” Maxwell said in an interview with The Daily Beast.
The former deputy assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern Affairs, who is currently stuck in a sort of legal limbo, has filed grievances regarding his treatment by the State Department’s human resources bureau and the American Foreign Service Association, the report notes.
Maxwell is the only official in the bureau of Near Eastern Affairs (i.e. the group responsible for Libya) to lose his job over the September 11 attacks.
“I had no involvement to any degree with decisions on security and the funding of security at our diplomatic mission in Benghazi,” he said.
Maxwell was placed on forced “administrative leave” on December 18, the day after the Accountability Review Board released its report on the Benghazi attack. The department placed him on leave so that it could decide whether he should be permanently “let go.” However, here we are five months out and no decision has been made.
The disciplined State Department official sits at home and waits.
A department spokeswoman declined to comment on why Maxwell and three other State officials were disciplined, saying only that the ARB suggested someone be disciplined over the death of four Americans.
“As a matter of policy, we don’t speak to specific personnel matters,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki told The Daily Beast.
Maxwell said the reason for him being put on leave has never been explained to him, he has never seen the classified portions of the ARB report that detail personnel failures leading up to the attack, and because his “administrative leave” is not a formal disciplinary action, he has no legal means to appeal his status.
And although he planned on retiring in September 2012, Maxwell remained at his post voluntarily so that he could assist the department in responding to the disastrous attacks. Now, after being singled out for the death of Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans, Maxwell refuses to let it go until his name has been cleared.
“They just wanted me to go away but I wouldn’t just go away,” he said. “I knew Chris [Stevens]. Chris was a friend of mine.”
“He is seeking a restoration of his previous position, a public statement of apology from State, reimbursement for his legal fees, and an extension of his time in service to equal the time he has spent at home on administrative leave,” the Daily Beast reports.
“For any FSO being at work is the essence of everything and being deprived of that and being cast out was devastating,” he said.
Maxwell said that soon after he was removed from his post, a State Department official visited him at his home one night and asked him to sign a letter acknowledging his removal and “forfeiting” his right to enter the State Department building.
He refused. He said that the letter amounted to an admission of guilt.
So who placed him on leave?
“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,” the report notes.
“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,” it adds.
But there may be a reason why Maxwell, of all people, was removed from his office the day after the release of the ARB report.
“One person who reviewed the classified portion of the ARB report told The Daily Beast that it called out Maxwell for the specific infraction of not reading his daily classified briefings, something that person said Maxwell admitted to the ARB panel during his interview,” the report claims.
“The crime that he is being punished for is not reading his intel,” this person said.
When asked about this specific claim, Maxwell said he has not been “officially counseled” on any wrongdoing and has not been allowed to read the ARB’s classified report.
But here’s his bombshell claim: Maxwell believes Hillary Clinton’s staff headed the review of the disastrous Benghazi attack – not an independent review board.
“The flaws in the process were perpetrated by the political leadership at State with the complicity of the senior career leadership,” he said. “They should be called to account.”
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