GOP demands to know if State officials faulted in Benghazi report still employed

House Republicans wrote to Secretary of State John Kerry on Wednesday demanding to know the work status of the State Department employees faulted in the independent review of the Benghazi, Libya, attack.

“We expect an immediate update on this process, and confirmation as to whether the referenced personnel are still employed by the Department,” 15 members of the House Foreign Relations Committee wrote in a letter to Kerry. 

“Additionally, if these officials are still employed but on administrative leave, please describe what steps the Department has taken to resolve the issue of their employment status.”

The Obama administration told The New York Times in December that three officials in the diplomatic security office and one from the Middle East bureau had been put on “administrative leave pending further action.” The Assistant Secretary of State for Diplomatic Security, Eric Boswell, resigned last year but the others remain in limbo.

ADVERTISEMENT
The independent audit by the State Department's Accountability Review Board (ARB), found “systemic failures and leadership and management deficiencies at senior levels” of the State Department's Diplomatic Security and Near East bureaus. It did not recommend that anyone be fired, however, because it “did not find reasonable cause to determine that any individual U.S. government employee breached his or her duty.”

One of the employees, former Deputy Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern affairs Raymond Maxwell, says he had nothing to do with security in Benghazi. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans were killed in a terrorist attack on the U.S. mission there in September 2012.

Republicans on the Oversight panel are investigating the ARB itself and its decision not to interview then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her two deputies. Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) has subpoenaed ARB co-author Thomas Pickering to be deposed by his committee on Monday.

Republican members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, led by Chairman Ed Royce (Calif.), also demanded to know what the targeted employees told auditors about their response to the Benghazi attack. The portions of the ARB that discusses the accounts of specific individuals has not been made public.

“Please also provide a detailed account of any action taken by these officials to challenge the findings of the ARB report, including their basis for doing so,” they wrote. “Lastly, if any of these individuals are no longer employed by the Department, please provide a detailed explanation of the circumstances leading to the termination of their employment.

“Given the importance of improving embassy security through greater accountability, we ask that you give this matter your prompt attention,” the letter adds

Please send tips and comments to Julian Pecquet: jpecquet@thehill.com

Follow us on Twitter: @TheHillGlobal and @JPecquetTheHill