Benghazi bombshell: Diplomat tells of secret operation to withhold damaging docs from review board
A potentially damaging and explosive revelation in the investigation of the Benghazi affair by the Daily Signal's Sheryl Attkisson. You may recall that Attkisson was forced out of her job at CBS for aggressively reporting on various Obama administration scandals.
This has the potential to derail Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign.
Former Deputy Assistant Secretary Raymond Maxwell told Attkisson that there was an after hours operation set up in the basement of the State Department building that was supposed to go through all the documentation to be handed over to the Accountability Review Board and remove documents that may reflect badly on anyone in his department or on "the seventh floor" - a euphemism for the office of the Secretary of State.
Maxwell says the weekend document session was held in the basement of the State Department’s Foggy Bottom headquarters in a room underneath the “jogger’s entrance.” He describes it as a large space, outfitted with computers and big screen monitors, intended for emergency planning, and with small offices on the periphery.
When he arrived, Maxwell says he observed boxes and stacks of documents. He says a State Department office director, whom Maxwell described as close to Clinton’s top advisers, was there. Though the office director technically worked for him, Maxwell says he wasn’t consulted about her weekend assignment.
She told me, ‘Ray, we are to go through these stacks and pull out anything that might put anybody in the [Near Eastern Affairs] front office or the seventh floor in a bad light,’” says Maxwell. He says “seventh floor” was State Department shorthand for then-Secretary of State Clinton and her principal advisors.
“I asked her, ‘But isn’t that unethical?’ She responded, ‘Ray, those are our orders.’ ”
A few minutes after he arrived, Maxwell says in walked two high-ranking State Department officials.
Maxwell says the two officials, close confidants of Clinton, appeared to check in on the operation and soon left.
The ARB report was a transparent phony - a whitewash. But pehaps the co-chairs of the committee were sandbagged:
When the ARB issued its call for documents in early October 2012, the executive directorate of the State Department’s Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs was put in charge of collecting all emails and relevant material. It was gathered, boxed and—Maxwell says—ended up in the basement room prior to being turned over.
In May 2013, when critics questioned the ARB’s investigation as not thorough enough, co-chairmen Ambassador Thomas Pickering and Adm. Mike Mullen stated, “we had unfettered access to everyone and everything including all the documentation we needed.”
Maxwell says when he heard that statement, he couldn’t help but wonder if the ARB—perhaps unknowingly—had received from his bureau a scrubbed set of documents with the most damaging material missing.
Maxwell believes the ARB - as well as his being put on leave for a year with no charges filed - were part of an effort to misdirect Congress.
“The ARB inquiry was, at best, a shoddily executed attempt at damage control, both in Foggy Bottom and on Capitol Hill,” says Maxwell. He views the after-hours operation he witnessed in the State Department basement as “an exercise in misdirection.”
Maxwell was a big supporter of President Obama, contributing to his campaign in 2008. He also admired Hillary Clinton. To say he was disillusioned with both is an understatement. He was put on leave following the issuance of the ARB report with no explanation. Seeking one, he visited the State Department ombudsman:
Several weeks after he was placed on leave with no formal accusations, Maxwell made an appointment to address his status with a State Department ombudsman.
“She told me, ‘You are taking this all too personally, Raymond. It is not about you,’” Maxwell says.
“I told her that ‘My name is on TV and I’m on administrative leave, it seems like it’s about me.’ Then she said, ‘You’re not harmed, you’re still getting paid. Don’t watch TV. Take your wife on a cruise. It’s not about you; it’s about Hillary and 2016.”
Maxwell apparently told this story to Rep. Trey Gowdy, chairman of the Benghazi select committee, as well as Rep. Jason Chaffetz of the Oversight Committee. Chavetz had this to say:
When reached for comment, Chaffetz told me that Maxwell’s allegations “go to the heart of the integrity of the State Department.”
“The allegations are as serious as it gets, and it’s something we have obviously followed up and pursued,” Chaffetz says. “I’m 100 percent confident the Benghazi Select Committee is going to dive deep on that issue.”
Maxwell may be one of the first witnesses called to testify.