State Department Allows Back Four Officials Criticized for Benghazi Roles

Charles S. Clark, Government Executive
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Charles S. Clark, Government Executive
Aug. 22, 2013, 6:02 a.m.

WASH­ING­TON — Find­ing “no breach of duty,” the State De­part­ment on Tues­day an­nounced that four of­fi­cials cri­ti­cized for their role in the U.S. re­sponse to the Septem­ber 2012 ter­ror­ist at­tack that killed four Amer­ic­ans in Benghazi, Libya, are re­turn­ing from ad­min­is­trat­ive leave to un­spe­cified full-time work without dis­cip­lin­ary ac­tion.

State Deputy Spokes­wo­man Mar­ie Harf told re­port­ers that “four of­fi­cials who were placed on ad­min­is­trat­ive leave fol­low­ing the in­de­pend­ent Benghazi Ac­count­ab­il­ity Re­view Board’s re­port should be re­as­signed to dif­fer­ent po­s­i­tions with­in the de­part­ment.” She said de­part­ment’s own re­view over the last months re­af­firmed the find­ings of the out­side board “that there was no breach of duty by these four em­ploy­ees, and that coupled with our ef­forts to strengthen se­cur­ity, the right an­swer for these four was re­as­sign­ment.”

The four em­ploy­ees were not named, but news re­ports have named them as dip­lo­mat­ic Se­cur­ity Chief Eric Boswell, se­cur­ity of­fi­cials Char­lene Lamb and Scott Bul­trow­icz, and Deputy As­sist­ant Sec­ret­ary of State for the Maghreb Re­gion Ray­mond Max­well. Sec­ret­ary of State John Kerry fully re­viewed the de­cisions, the spokes­wo­man said.

The at­tack on the U.S. fa­cil­ity in Benghazi by still-un­named ter­ror­ists caused the deaths of Am­bas­sad­or Chris Stevens and three se­cur­ity pro­fes­sion­als, and con­tro­versy re­mains over how the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion weighed mil­it­ary op­tions and how it later presen­ted the tragedy.

Rep. Dar­rell Issa, R-Cal­if., chair­man of the House Over­sight and Gov­ern­ment Re­form Com­mit­tee, re­leased a state­ment Tues­day say­ing, “Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cials re­peatedly prom­ised the fam­il­ies of vic­tims and the Amer­ic­an people that of­fi­cials re­spons­ible for se­cur­ity fail­ures would be held ac­count­able. In­stead of ac­count­ab­il­ity, the State De­part­ment offered a charade that in­cluded false re­ports of fir­ings and resig­na­tions and now ends in a game of mu­sic­al chairs where no one misses a single day on the State De­part­ment payroll.”

Sen. Bob Cork­er, R-Tenn., said, “I am highly dis­ap­poin­ted that no one at the State De­part­ment will be held ac­count­able in any real way over the fail­ures that led to the tragedy in Benghazi. I don’t un­der­stand how this ad­min­is­tra­tion will en­sure ac­count­ab­il­ity at one of our most vi­tal gov­ern­ment de­part­ments without dis­cip­lin­ing those who fail in their du­ties.”

Re­prin­ted with per­mis­sion from Gov­ern­ment Ex­ec­ut­ive. The ori­gin­al story can be found here.

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