Getting to the bottom of the Benghazi cover-up
by Jim Henry
Posted 10/24/14, 04:45 pm
While Benghazi may be absent from the headlines, the investigation into unanswered questions surrounding the 2012 terrorist attack in Libya is ongoing. The most recent revelations involve the possible withholdingof documents and evidence tampering at the U.S. State Department.
Former Deputy Assistant Secretary Raymond Maxwell blew the whistle last month on what he said was a backroom, document-sifting operation. The goal of the operation was to separate any politically damaging documents before they were handed over to the Accountability Review Board that first investigated the State Department’s response to Benghazi. The Daily Signal’s Sharyl Attkisson is the reporter who broke the story, and I recently spoke with her about it.
What did Raymond Maxwell tell you about this Benghazi document-sifting operation at the State Department? Maxwell said that he heard it said around the office as deputy assistant secretary of state that there was some sort of document session taking place after hours on the weekend in a basement room at the State Department. … He was curious about it, … and he decided to go check it out himself. He says he showed up on a weekend afternoon only to find a document-sorting session going on. A subordinate who was close to, he says, the Hillary Clinton people … told him that the purpose of the session was to separate out any documents that could be damaging to Clinton or those who worked with her. He says that after he was there a short time, in walked the secretary of state’s chief of staff, Cheryl Mills, and the deputy chief of staff. They spoke with him, they appeared to check in and see what was going on, and left after a short time.
Have you been able to confirm the things that Maxwell has said with other people at the State Department? No. I’ve corroborated … his character and veracity. Even the people who originally aimed me to Raymond Maxwell considered him a highly respected source, and he has provided other information that’s proven very, very accurate. You look for those things as a journalist before you’re going to use a source, and he checked out. Of course, the people who could verify what he said are those who are accused of the wrongdoing. So far they haven’t stepped forward to say that they broke any ethics rules or violated any laws, and I don’t expect them to do so.
What did Sonya Gilliam tell you about her experience with Cheryl Mills all those years ago at the Commerce Department? Sonya Gilliam was in charge, at the Commerce Department, of Freedom of Information officers at the time when grand jury subpoenas, Freedom of Information Act requests, and congressional requests were asking for documents in various probes and investigations. Gilliam’s people were telling her that they were having trouble legally fulfilling these requests for documents. … She said she learned that documents were, in her view, being improperly filtered to the White House for approval. These were not documents that originated at the White House, but documents that maybe the White House would not want out there because they were politically damaging. She considered it completely inappropriate that these documents were going to the White House for political reviews. Gilliam recounts sitting in these task force meetings at the Commerce Department talking about fulfilling all these outstanding document requests and being told, “Cheryl Mills has the documents. Cheryl Mills is delaying things. Cheryl Mills says no.” And Sonya says she asked, “Well, who is Cheryl Mills?” And she says she was told, “This is the deputy counsel to President Clinton,” and Sonya said, “Well, why are the documents going through her?” And she said she was just completely outraged at this level of involvement and what she considered obstruction of document release on the part of the White House.
Listen to Jim Henry’s full interview with Sharyl Attkisson on The World and Everything in It: