Former Foreign Affairs Committee chairwoman Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) slammed the disciplining of four State Department officials as nothing but “a shuffling of the deck chairs” in response to testimony from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton regarding the Benghazi terrorist attack.
The four are accused of ignoring security concerns at the U.S. consulate in Benghazi prior to the deadly September 11, 2012 attack.
Members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee were unimpressed with Clinton’s excuse for why the individuals in question had been put on paid leave, which Ros-Lehtinen called “paid vacation,” rather than terminated. Rep. Tom Marino (R-PA) bluntly told Clinton:
I come from industry. I come from government. And there are individuals that just have to be cut loose when they’re not performing their tasks… What’s the hold-up from a management perspective of saying, “You three let me down, this should have been brought to my attention. I no longer need your services?”
Clinton claimed that the officials could not be fired because, “Under federal statute and regulations, unsatisfactory leadership is not grounds for finding a breach of duty.” Under the Omnibus Diplomatic and Antiterrorism Act of 1986, a review board can recommend the firing of an official if they have been found to have “breached the duty of that individual” through their actions.
The State Department Accountability Review Board claimed in their December 2012 report that the four officials had demonstrated “performance inadequacies” in their handling of Benghazi security concerns but had not been “willfully negligent” amounting to a breach of duty.
Three of the officials still remain on paid leave. The fourth, Assistant Secretary of State Eric Boswell, resigned from his position after the review board’s report was released but has stayed on with the State Department in an unspecified role.
Secretary Clinton claimed she would offer a legislative proposal to allow more “leeway” for future disciplinary actions.