Kerry’s decision to end administrative leave irks Republican lawmakers.
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.”