BY: Follow @Kredo0
The House Oversight Committee will launch an investigation into the State Department following reports that Secretary of State John Kerry fully reinstated four employees who were faulted for security failures relating to the Sept. 11, 2012, terror attacks in Benghazi, Libya, that killed four Americans.
Oversight chairman Darrell Issa (R., Calif.) announced Tuesday that his committee “will expand its investigation of the Benghazi terrorist attack to include how a supposed ‘Accountability Review Board’ investigation [run by the State Department] resulted in a decision by Secretary Kerry not to pursue any accountability from anyone.”
Four State Department employees were found to have failed in their duties during the Benghazi attack. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton placed the employees on paid administrative leave.
However, reports emerged late Monday that the four employees would be fully reinstated by Kerry and would not face any disciplinary action.
Former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Raymond Maxwell, one of the employees in question, told the Daily Beast on Monday that he was told in a memo to come back to work on Tuesday morning.
“No explanation, no briefing, just come back to work. So I will go in tomorrow,” Maxwell said.
This prompted Issa, one of the lead congressional investigators of Benghazi, to express outrage and deem the entire episode a craven public relations venture.
“Obama administration officials repeatedly promised the families of victims and the American people that officials responsible for security failures would be held accountable,” Issa said.
“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,” he said.
Issa went on to say that the reinstatement is proof that the Obama administration does not view the deaths of four Americans seriously.
“It is now clear that the personnel actions taken by the department in response to the Benghazi terrorist attacks was more of a public relations strategy than a measured response to a failure in leadership,” he said.
The House Oversight Committee will now expand its investigation into the State Department’s review board and Kerry’s decision to reinstate the disputed employees.
Issa asked Kerry in July to explain why the fate of the formerly suspended employees had not been decided.
“The lack of a final determination, or even any sign that the department is actively working to reach one, raises several questions,” Issa wrote in a July 31 letter to Kerry that accused him of “delaying a final determination.”
As the fate of the employees remained in question, other senior State Department officials tied to the Benghazi attacks received “promotions,” according to Issa’s letter, which further alleges that Clinton and Kerry have not seriously investigated intelligence failures that led to the deaths in Libya.
The State Department later told Issa in August that the administrative leave was not considered a punishment and that Kerry would personally decide how to deal with the four suspended employees.
“When Secretary Kerry took office, he had his own questions and wanted time to understand the [review board’s] findings,” Thomas Gibbons, the department’s acting assistant secretary for legislative affairs, wrote to Issa. “He will be fully briefed again with updated information prior to any further decision on the status of these employees.”
Kerry ultimately decided that the employees were not guilty of any wrongdoing, according to a State Department official who spoke to the Daily Beast.
“[Secretary Kerry] studied their careers and studied the facts,” the official was quoted as saying. “In order to implement the ARB 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.”