State Dept. reinstates officials disciplined after Benghazi review

Four mid-level State Department employees who were placed on leave after last year’s attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya, will be reassigned and return to work, according to reports.

Secretary of State John Kerry determined that the employees should not face further disciplinary action, The Daily Beast’s Josh Rogin first reported

Kerry “studied their careers and studied the facts,” a State official told The Daily Beast. 

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“In order to implement the ARB [Acountability Review Board] and to continue to turn the page and shift the paradigm inside the Department, the four employees who were put on administrative leave last December pending further review, will be reassigned inside the State Department,” the official added.

The four had been suspended by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton after the department released its own internal audit of the lead-in and response to the consulate attack, which claimed the lives of four Americans, including ambassador Christopher Stevens. 

A State official told The Daily Beast that administrative leave designation prevented the employees from working for Kerry’s team, but was not a punishment. Kerry reviewed the Accountability Review Board’s investigation and determined none of the officials had not failed in their duties. While they are returning to work, none will be eligible to regain their former posts. 

The move is likely to anger many congressional Republicans who charge that the State Department failed to adequately investigate or punish officials after the Benghazi attacks. Other than the four officials disciplined with administrative leave, no one else was faulted or fired.

House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) earlier this month subpoenaed State documents detailing the review board’s probe, saying he had been stonewalled in earlier requests for information.

The State official on Monday said Kerry was committed to improving security for the nation’s diplomats.

“As soon as he came into the department, Secretary Kerry wanted to invest the time to review the ARB's findings and match those against his own on-the-job findings about security,” the senior official said. “He's been hands-on focused on building on the lessons learned from the Benghazi attack to strengthen security at missions world-wide and continue the ARB's security paradigm shift.”