State Dept. source says Clinton operatives scrubbed Benghazi documents

The Clinton machine has come a long way since the days when national security adviser Sandy Berger was obliged to raid the National Archives for politically damaging documents and stuff them down his pants to make his getaway.  Shary Attkisson at the Daily Signal relates what she describes as a “startling allegation” from a former State Department diplomat: Hillary Clinton’s operatives went through the Benghazi documents handed over to the department’s Accountability Review Board and grabbed the most damaging documents related to the breathtaking security failure / outrageous murder of a U.S. ambassador / spontaneous protest of a YouTube video that occurred on September 11, 2012:

According to former Deputy Assistant Secretary Raymond Maxwell, the after-hours session took place over a weekend in a basement operations-type center at State Department headquarters in Washington, D.C. This is the first time Maxwell has publicly come forward with the story.

At the time, Maxwell was a leader in the State Department???s Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs (NEA), which was charged with collecting emails and documents relevant to the Benghazi probe.

???I was not invited to that after-hours endeavor, but I heard about it and decided to check it out on a Sunday afternoon,??? says Maxwell.

As Attkisson duly notes, Maxwell was one of the four designated fall guys (forgive my political incorrectness, but “fall persons” just doesn’t sound right) for the Benghazi disaster.  It was a pretty soft fall, since – as per Obama Administration standard operating procedure – they were only temporarily disciplined, for as long as Obama needed to pretend he was concerned about the Benghazi attack, and then quietly reinstated later.  (Obama didn’t even pretend to fire anyone, the way he did with the IRS scandal.)

Still, Maxwell is described as a formerly strong supporter of Barack Obama who “soured on both Obama and Clinton” after he was “sacrificed as a scapegoat, while higher-up officials directly responsible escaped discipline” according to the Daily Signal piece, so it’s fair enough to note that he’s got motivation to lash out at the Administration.  He’s retired now, and he wants his reputation back.  He’s even written poetry about it.  He says that when he complained about the insult of being randomly chosen as a Benghazi scapegoat, a State Department ombudsman blew him off by advising him to stop watching TV news and take his wife on a cruise, because “it’s not about you, it’s about Hillary and 2016.”  Clearly Maxwell has an axe to grind, and if his accounts of life in Hillary’s State Department are accurate, it’s a sharp and righteous axe.

Needless to say, the State Department is denying everything Maxwell says, and Hillary Clinton refuses to comment, while Republicans at House Oversight and the House Select Committee on Benghazi have given him a serious hearing.  Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) of House Oversight told the Daily Signal his committee has “followed up and pursued” Maxwell’s allegations, and he expects Rep. Trey Gowdy’s (R-SC) Benghazi Select Committee to do likewise.

This is what Maxwell says about the Benghazi document-scrubbing party:

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.

Maxwell says after those two officials arrived, he, the office director and an intern moved into a small office where they looked through some papers. Maxwell says his stack included pre-attack telegrams and cables between the U.S. embassy in Tripoli and State Department headquarters. After a short time, Maxwell says he decided to leave.

???I didn???t feel good about it,??? he said.

One of Hillary’s most famous utterances was her exasperated “What difference, at this point, does it make?” response to questions about who was responsible for creating what Barack Obama referred to as a “speed bump” on the night of 9/11/12.  If Maxwell’s account is solid, it seems Hillary did think it made a difference, after all.

Maxwell is hardly the only critic to accuse the State Department’s Accountability Review Board investigation of Benghazi to be a half-hearted whitewash, in which a large number of highly relevant people – like, oh, say, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton – were not even interviewed.  If the ARB investigators didn’t realize some important documents had been “separated” by Clinton’s people, they might not have realized their data was incomplete.  On the other hand, the most cynical observers might suggest it wasn’t necessary to scrub any documents to keep the ARB from issuing a report that would destroy Clinton, Obama, or anyone else in the inner circle.  (If something really did have to go into Hillary’s Rose Law Firm limited-edition turbo-speed document shredder, it must have been so hot they handled it with lead-lined gloves.)

I notice that the “two high-ranking State Department officials” in Maxwell’s account are not named, although he obviously knows who they were.  Pushback against his story will doubtless use that detail to accuse him of making the whole scene up… or maybe he’s baiting a trap for critics by keeping the identity of those “close confidants of Clinton” close to his vest, until it’s time to show his cards to Trey Gowdy’s committee.

As it stands, this is one man’s story, and as mentioned, he has plenty of reasons to make it a lively one.  We have little but his resume, which Attkisson details at some length, to judge his character.  There’s also the question of why he waited so long to level this explosive charge, although it would be easy enough to adduce that before he retired, he was worried about retaliation, and he didn’t see any point in hanging himself out as a target before Gowdy’s Select Committee was ready to roll.  If he’s worried about his reputation, Maxwell surely knows that he’s putting whatever remains of it on the line; if he can’t produce any firm evidence or corroborating witnesses, the Clinton machine will rip him to shreds.  (He knows the story of the White House Travel Office scandal, doesn’t he?)

For the moment, it’s a bombshell account that will thump into the muddy ground of the Benghazi scandal without detonating, unless there’s another bombshell right behind it… such as one of those “close confidants of Clinton” turning sour on her and stepping forward to back up Maxwell’s story.  By his own account, he doesn’t know what, if any, documents were actually pulled from the materials handed over to the ARB, so even if the story he tells about that curious weekend at Foggy Bottom is absolutely true and verified by another source, it’s just going to be one more creepy story orbiting Hillary Clinton in the absence of some hard evidence about what got scrubbed.