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Singed by the Benghazi Dispute, This Ex-Fed Is Laying Low

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Hillary Clinton testifies before the House Benghazi Committee. The committee is slated to release a final report this summer. Hillary Clinton testifies before the House Benghazi Committee. The committee is slated to release a final report this summer. Evan Vucci/AP

When the House Select Committee on Benghazi releases its long-awaited “final report” this summer, one former State Department official may find himself again dragged into the public eye.

Raymond Maxwell, who in 2012 was director of regional affairs at State’s Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, went down as a bit player in the politically radioactive saga of why four Americans died at the U.S. compound in Benghazi, Libya.

He was one of four State Department officials placed on administrative leave while the Hillary Clinton-appointed Accountability Review Board investigated what went wrong on Sept. 11, 2012. His case was taken up by conservative publications and Republicans in Congress after he reported that Clinton aides Cheryl Mills and Jake Sullivan checked in on a weekend session he attended at which Benghazi-related documents were being sorted. Maxwell said the purpose of the sorting was to cull any that might prove “embarrassing” to the secretary. His efforts to report concerns to higher-ups were ignored.

Maxwell then filed a complaint accusing Clinton aides of orchestrating his transfer out of a job after a classified version of the Review Board report recommended some staffing changes affecting officials who may have failed to thoroughly read advance intelligence on the pending terrorist attack.

Some reports characterized Maxwell, a 14-year Navy veteran when he joined the Foreign Service, as a “scapegoat” who was “thrown under the bus” after Benghazi. As published last year in the blog Diplopundit, Maxwell wrote:

On December 18, 2012, the ARB Report was released. When I returned to my office after lunch, A/S Beth Jones’ OMS told me to meet with her at 2 pm. At 2:20 A/ S Jones returned to the office and summoned me. She invited me in and closed the door. She told me the ARB report had been released and that it was not complimentary to the Department, to NEA, or to me. She said PDAS Elizabeth Dibble was reading the classified report in the SCIF, and that she had not yet seen it. Then she said she had been instructed by Cheryl Mills to relieve me of the DAS position, that I was fired, and that I should have all my personal belongings out of the office by close of business that same day. She said PDAS Dibble would identify a place where I could keep my belongings, and that I would remain in the Bureau as a senior adviser. She said the Bureau was going to take care of me and that I didn’t need to “lawyer up.”

Until recently, Maxwell had given few interviews, preferring to write poetry, though he did speak to lawmakers and questioned the objectivity of the Review Board’s final report.

Reached in late April by Government Executive, he declined to delve into the Benghazi controversy because he’s seeking to put the issue behind him. Asked about the circumstances of his departure from State, Maxwell said in an email, “Four people were placed on administrative leave, pending an ‘investigation’ that there is no evidence was conducted.

“Then, in August 2013, admin leave was terminated and all four were brought back and offered jobs outside their previous roles. I had already announced my retirement and ‘put in my papers,’ but I postponed it pending resolution of the administrative leave. Nothing was truly resolved, though. It was all just a facade. I retired, effective November 2013, a year later than I originally planned, completed a graduate program per my original plan, and accepted an academic position at a regional university in my home state,” a location he declined to specify.

Charles S. Clark joined Government Executive in the fall of 2009. He has been on staff at The Washington Post, Congressional Quarterly, National Journal, Time-Life Books, Tax Analysts, the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges, and the National Center on Education and the Economy. He has written or edited online news, daily news stories, long features, wire copy, magazines, books and organizational media strategies.

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