By Julian Pecquet - 07/12/13 03:09 PM EDT
A State Department employee who says he was unfairly punished in the wake of the Benghazi, Libya, attack will testify before Congress next week.
Raymond Maxwell, the former deputy assistant secretary for Maghreb affairs, was placed on administrative leave in the wake of the attack that killed Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans last Sept. 11.
Maxwell was one of four State Department employees disciplined after an independent State Department probe of the attack, but insists he played no role in decisions to deny the embassy's requests for more security.
“I had no involvement to any degree with decisions on security and the funding of security at our diplomatic mission in Benghazi,” Maxwell told the Daily Beast in May after filing a grievance with the State Department’s Human Resources Bureau and the American Foreign Service Association (AFSA).
Maxwell is scheduled to appear before a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing Thursday titled: “Benghazi: Progress on State Department Accountability?” An AFSA representative is also expected to testify, along with American Academy of Diplomacy President Ronald Neumann, a former ambassador to Algeria, Bahrain and Afghanistan.
Rep. Darrell Issa's (R-Calif.) oversight panel has deposed the two co-authors of the State Department's Accountability Review Board, which reportedly recommended that Maxwell be punished for failing to read his intelligence briefings. Democrats who attended the depositions told The Hill that Maxwell's treatment appeared to be of particular interest to Republicans on the committee.
Separately, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee announced a hearing on Tuesday on embassy security legislation from panel Chairman Bob MenendezRobert MenendezGMO labeling bill advances in the Senate over Dem objections Overnight Finance: Trump threatens NAFTA withdrawal | Senate poised for crucial Puerto Rico vote | Ryan calls for UK trade deal | Senate Dems block Zika funding deal Menendez rails against Puerto Rico bill for 4 hours on floor MORE (D-N.J.).
The bill from Menendez would give the State Department the authority to hire the best instead of the cheapest security contractors “where conditions require enhanced levels of security” and would authorize disciplinary action in cases of unsatisfactory leadership by senior officials related to a security incident. The State Department said it lacked the power to fire anyone over the Benghazi lapses.
The bill would authorize funding for the Capital Security Cost Sharing Program to provide extra security at more high-risk posts, for Arabic language training, and for a Foreign Affairs Security Training Center to train diplomatic security personnel. It would also require planning to incorporate additional Marine Security Guards at overseas facilities and requires extensive reporting on State’s implementation of the ARB recommendations and on the designation of high-risk posts.
The State Department's Acting Assistant Secretary for Diplomatic Security, Gregory Starr, is scheduled to testify on the bill along with Bill Miller, the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for High-Threat Posts.
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