He was one of four State Department officials held responsible for Benghazi in the Accountability Review Board’s investigation.
But guess what?
He’s not guilty.
Yep, that’s right. Raymond was removed from his duties and put on administrative leave for something he didn’t do.
He didn’t make the Benghazi related decisions that ended up costing four Americans their lives. He didn’t stop reading all intelligence communications, even though officials said it wouldn’t have made a difference either way.
And he certainly was not solely liable for his entire agency’s management and leadership failure.
Below I break down the new Congressional report that’s found key errors in the original investigation (originally done by the Accountability Review Board) surrounding Raymond Maxwell.
1. Maxwell had no responsibility for security measures at Benghazi
How do you place blame? You find out whose job it was, and whether they completed their duties.
The Accountability Review Board doesn’t seem to understand this process.
Although they held Maxwell accountable for many of the decisions that led to Benghazi it now appears that he had nothing to do with it. His job duties and superiors all point to that.
“Maxwell himself denied having any formal role in determining” the security stance or any security requests related to the US base in Benghazi.
He testified that security requests “came in through the Executive Bureau, the Post Management Office.” Sometimes going through the Diplomatic Security route, which would then go up the chain of command.
The Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary in NEA, Elizabeth Dibble, said that the ARB shouldn’t have held him accountable in their report.
She acknowledged that Maxwell wasn’t ‘responsible for security in Libya.” And that it wasn’t “right” for him to be…
Held accountable, because he had no decision authority . . . he had no impact, no control over the allocation of security resources. [page 53]
Lee Lohman, the Executive Director for NEA testified that…
He just wasn’t involved in making decisions about the security of what was going on at post, because nobody in NEA was making those kind of detailed decisions. [emphasis added] [page 49]
It’s clear that no one in Maxwell’s agency believed that he was responsible for the flawed security decisions.
[source: pages 48, 49, 53]
2. His choice to not read the daily intelligence briefings had no effect on Benghazi
One of the major concerns the ARB report had was Raymond Maxwell’s decisions to not read the daily intelligence reports.
But even this is unconnected to what happened at Benghazi. And it appears the ARB didn’t understand him clearly about what intelligence he was reading.
The ARB took his response to mean that he stopped reading all forms of intelligence. As the new report mentions this just isn’t true.
According to Maxwell, he stopped attending the “read-book sessions.”
These “read-book sessions” were daily available intelligence reports created by the Intelligence Community that were “relevant to the Bureau’s area of operations.”
Maxwell ditched these sessions for two reasons.
- “He had been invited to give a number of public speeches and did not want to have trouble separating classified from unclassified information.” [page 51]
- He described the intelligence in the read-book sessions as “garbage”, “regurgitated”, and “spectacular and sensational.” Maybe that’s why they were often referred to as “the funny books (or the “funny papers”).
What Maxwell failed to tell the ARB was that he was receiving classified intelligence briefings on a number of confidential programs. He was also reading intelligence related to his area of responsibility.
Even though Maxwell didn’t tell them this, it’s still surprising that they didn’t inquire as to whether he was reading any other intelligence sources.
Before you go thinking that maybe if Maxwell had read all of his intelligence sources it would have saved lives at Benghazi, there’s something you need to know.
Maxwell’s supervisor, Acting Assistant Secretary for NEA Elizabeth Jones stated that no connections existed between Maxwell’s “read-book” decision and the loss of life at Benghazi.
She even went so far as to say that…
There was no intelligence that could have told us that this attack was underway, it wasn’t material. [page 53]
Whether that’s true or not there’s no doubt that Maxwell’s decision to stop reading the “funny pages” had no effect on the outcome of Benghazi.
[source: pages 46, 50-54]
3. His department didn’t manage the security decisions in Benghazi
One particular mess-up in the ARB report was that Raymond Maxwell’s agency, the bureau of Near Eastern Affairs (NEA), was somehow responsible for security decisions at Benghazi.
It turns out that Maxwell’s agency wasn’t in charge of that. Decisions revolving Benghazi security and security resources rested in the hands of the Bureau of Diplomatic Security.
How could the ARB hold him accountable when he didn’t even work in an agency that handled such concerns?
That’s like your boss blaming you for computer problems when you don’t even work in the IT department.
How’s that my fault?
[source: page 48]
4. Several of his colleagues and superiors were surprised that the report signaled him out
Despite the ARB holding Maxwell responsible for the lives at Benghazi several of his colleagues had a hard time believing his guiltiness.
Eric Boswell, the Former Assistant Secretary for Diplomatic Security, was puzzled by ARB’s findings on Maxwell.
Lee Lohman described the whole thing as “unfair.” She later went on to say that Maxwell shouldn’t have been held responsible.
For a man who was found “guilty” of botching a whole diplomatic outpost, it’s curious how his colleagues didn’t agree with the ARB’s findings.
It’s even more curious why the ARB didn’t question his colleagues and supervisors on his character and performance.
Instead of doing their job, they just jumped to conclusions… As usual.
[source: pages 48-49]
5. The ARB blamed Maxwell’s entire agency but only signaled out him for responsibility
Isn’t it obvious that when you find a whole agency at fault it usually means you’ll be holding several top officers responsible?
The Accountability Review Board said they found leadership and management failures in the senior levels of Maxwell’s agency. Yet Maxwell was the only individual out of the whole organization to be criticized.
Why was Maxwell the only person held responsible?
It seems obvious that a “systemic failure” within a large organization such as NEA could only result from a widespread failure throughout the system… [page 55]
Yet the ARB only blamed one man out of an entire organization. It doesn’t add up.
[source: pages 46, 55]
From this section of the new Benghazi report it’s obvious that Raymond Maxwell had absolutely nothing to do with what took place at Benghazi.
Why the ARB found him responsible in light of this information is unknown. The ARB council was rushed to put out the report. Maybe in their haste they missed key pieces of information.
Whatever the reason, it’s apparent that Raymond was innocent and shouldn’t have been treated as he was.
What do you think? Does this new revelation remove all guilt? Or should he still be punished?
Look out for the next installment of the Benghazi Report series where I’ll cover the next person the ARB blamed for Benghazi…