The PJ Tatler

Hillary Clinton's Benghazi 'Scapegoat'

Image via Shutterstock, a "war dog" with an automatic rifle and a helmet over a barbed-wire fence.

A couple of nuggets from the Daily Beast’s story about Ray Maxwell. He was a mid-level career State Department officer who was removed from his job over the Benghazi attack. He had no role in managing security in Libya.

Nugget #1: Accountability and the so-called Accountability Review Board.

The decision to remove Maxwell and not Jones seems to conflict with the finding of the ARB that responsibility for the security failures leading up to the Sept. 11, 2012 attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi should fall on more senior officials.

“We fixed [the responsibility] at the assistant secretary level, which is in our view the appropriate place to look, where the decision-making in fact takes place, where, if you like, the rubber hits the road,” Pickering said when releasing the ARB report.

The report found “systemic failures and leadership and management deficiencies at senior levels within two bureaus of the State Department,” namely the Diplomatic Security (DS) and Near East bureaus. Deputy Secretary of State Bill Burns testified in December that requests for more security in Libya, denied by the State Department, did reach the assistant secretaries and “it may be that some of my colleagues on the 7th floor saw them as well.”

But Jones was not disciplined in any way following the release of the report, nor was the principal deputy assistant secretary of State at NEA, Liz Dibble, who is slated to receive a plush post as the deputy chief of mission at the U.S. embassy in London this summer. In the DS bureau, the assistant secretary, principal deputy, and deputy assistant all lost their jobs. In the NEA bureau, only Maxwell was asked to leave.

Jones and Dibble were responsible for security in Libya, Maxwell and three State Department officials said. What’s more, when Maxwell was promoted to his DAS position in August 2011, most responsibility for Libya was carved out of his portfolio, which also included Algeria, Morocco, and Tunisia. Although Maxwell did some work on Libya, all security related decisions were handled by Dibble and Jones, according to the three officials.

The people who were found the be responsible and failed in their jobs, were not punished at all. One has been promoted. Because they were close to Clinton, or they are close to Cheryl Mills, who is close to Clinton.

Nugget #2: The Accountability Review Board was designed not to hold anyone who was responsible, accountable.

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 crime that he is being punished for is not reading his intel. That explains why Jones and Dibble were not disciplined,” this person said.

Maxwell had no response to this allegation other than to say he has not been officially counseled on what he did wrong and has not been allowed to read the classified report. Also, he believes that Clinton’s staff, not the ARB, was in charge of the review of the attack that took place during her watch.

“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.”

If failing to read one’s daily intel briefings is a sin deserving of administrative leave, Barack Obama should have been disciplined years ago. He routinely skipped his briefings, even in the days leading up to Benghazi itself. Obama sets the tone, dontcha know.

Drill down far enough into all this and it’s evident that a little political clique centered on Cheryl Mills probably ran Hillary Clinton’s State Department while Hillary was busy logging all those flight miles. They set up the ARB to shield themselves from their own lethal failures, and protected Clinton’s 2016 viability to the best of their ability. Ray Maxwell is just collateral damage.