A few days ago, we posted a poem written by Raymond Maxwell, the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Maghreb (North Africa) Affairs at the State Department’s Bureau of Near East Affairs, whom Hillary Clinton placed on “administrative leave” (months of it, with no end in sight) in response to the Benghazi attack. Maxwell has now written a second poem which I will print below.
Maxwell has also responded to his removal with prose. Specifically, he has provided an interview to Josh Rogin of the Daily Beast.
Maxwell accuses Clinton’s team of scapegoating him for the failures that led to the death of four Americans in Benghazi. He told Rogin: ““I had no involvement to any degree with decisions on security and the funding of security at our diplomatic mission in Benghazi.”
Maxwell also says that nobody from the State Department has ever told him why he has been disciplined. He has never been granted access to the classified portion of the ARB report, where all of the details regarding personnel failures leading up to Benghazi are set forth. Maxwell also says he has never been shown any evidence or witness testimony linking him to the Benghazi incident.
The Daily Beast’s sources say, however, that Maxwell was identified in the ARB report as not having read daily classified briefings. Maxwell is said to have admitted not doing so. But the ARB apparently stopped short of saying that Maxwell committed misconduct or breached a duty, either by not reading the briefings or otherwise.
According to the Daily Beast’s sources, the decision to place Maxwell on administrative leave was made by Cheryl Mills, Hillary Clinton’s top “henchman,” whose services for the Clintons date back to the days of Whitewater and Monica. The decision was executed by Beth Jones, the Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs, although it has been reported that Jones understood from Mills that Maxwell would receive another spot rather than being placed in the purgatory of indefinite administrative leave.
Mills and Jones were named by Gregory Hicks as the two State Department officials involved in retaliating against him for questioning Susan Rice’s statements about Benghazi on the Sunday talk shows. Being Hillary’s henchman can be a demanding job.
As Rogin notes, the removal of Maxwell, as opposed to Beth Jones, seems at odds with what we know about the ARB report. It fixed responsibility for what happened in Benghazi on officials at Jones’ level, not Maxwell’s. As Ambassador Pickering said when the report was released:
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.
But Jones has not been disciplined in any way over Benghazi. Neither has Liz Dibble, the principal deputy assistant secretary of State at the Bureau of Near East Affairs. In fact, Rogin reports, Dibble is slated to receive the coveted post of deputy chief of mission at the U.S. embassy in London this summer.
According to Maxwell, though, Jones and Dibble were responsible for all security related decisions related to Libya. And Rogin found three State Department officials who confirm Maxwell’s statement. So even if Maxwell didn’t read briefings, it does seem like he is being punished at least in part for sins committed further up the chain of command.
In any event, Maxwell isn’t taking his discipline lying down. He has filed grievances with the State Department’s human resources bureau and the American Foreign Service Association, which represents the interests of foreign-service officers.
And, as noted, he continues to write poetry about Benghazigate. Here is his latest, called “Trapped in a Purgatory of Their Own Conceit”:
Trapped in a purgatory
of their own conceit…
The web of lies they weave
gets tighter and tighter
in its deceit
until it bottoms out -
at a very low frequency -
It may be just a matter of perception –
they can’t undo their wrongs
for fear it’d undermine their
perceived authority –
an authority they think they require
to stay in charge.
Yet all the while,
the more they talk,
the more they lie,
and the deeper down the hole they go.
There’s nothing I need to go back to -
nothing to re-litigate -
nothing to defend -
and certainly nothing to prove
to the unworthy.
just wait and feed them rope.