Secretary of State John Kerry has determined that the four State Department officials placed on administrative leave by Hillary Clinton after the terrorist attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi do not deserve any formal disciplinary action and has asked them to come back to work at the State Department starting Tuesday.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton testifies on the September attack on U.S. diplomatic sites in Benghazi, Libya, during a hearing held by the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington on January 23. (Jason Reed/Reuters, via Landov)
Last December, Clinton’s staff told four midlevel officials to clean out their desks and hand in their badges after the release of the report of its own internal investigation into the Benghazi attack, compiled by the Administrative Review Board led by former State Department official Tom Pickering and former Joint Chiefs chairman Ret. Adm. Mike Mullen. Those four officials have been in legal and professional limbo, not fired but unable to return to their jobs, for eight months ... until today.
Former deputy assistant secretary of State Raymond Maxwell, the only official from the State Department’s Near Eastern Affairs bureau to lose his job over the Benghazi attack, told The Daily Beast on Monday he received a memo from the State Department’s human-resources department informing him his administrative leave status has been lifted and he should report for duty Tuesday morning.
Following a report by a leading Argentinian prosecutor, the State Department has decided to reexamine its own assessment of Iran’s growing infrastructure to support terrorist activities in Latin America.
President-elect Hassan Rouhani waves as he attends a press conference in Tehran on Monday. (Behrouz Mehri/AFP/Getty)
“For the first time in the Argentine and world judicial history, it has been gathered and substantiated in a judicial file, evidence that proved the steps taken by a terrorist regime, the Islamic Republic of Iran, to infiltrate, for decades, large regions of Latin America, through the establishment of clandestine intelligence stations and operative agents which are used to execute terrorist attacks when the Iranian regime decides so, both directly or through its proxy, the terrorist organization Hezbollah,” wrote Alberto Nisman in his 500-page May report on Iran’s Latin America strategy.
Nisman was the original prosecutor assigned to the 1994 bombing of the Argentine Israelite Mutual Association (AMIA), which he contends was carried out by Hezbollah with Iranian government support. Iranian involvement in Latin America extended to several other plots as well, including a 2010 attempt to attack JFK airport in New York, a plot that was thwarted by U.S. law enforcement, according to his report.
As her husband is raked over the coals for sexting, a senator is calling for an investigation into the consulting fees Abedin earned while working at the State Department. Josh Rogin reports.
Huma Abedin, the wife of New York mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner, a.k.a. Carlos Danger, is facing an ongoing Senate investigation into the consulting fees she earned while also working as a State Department employee for then-secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Susan Walsh / AP Photos
Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) has been investigating Abedin’s activities as a paid consultant while she was still working for Clinton toward the end of her tenure. In June 2012, Abedin changed her employment status at the State Department from being a full-time employee with the title of deputy chief of staff to being a “special government employee,” a type of contractor that allowed her to take on private clients in addition to her government job that included Hillary Clinton’s post–State Department transition team, the William J. Clinton Foundation, and Teneo Holdings, a firm run by Clinton confidant Doug Band.
Abedin’s change in employment status was exposed in a June article in Politico, which reported that Abedin and Weiner reported income of $490,000 in calendar year 2012, $360,000 of which represented a combination of both of their consulting incomes.
The president met with his 2008 rival Thursday for their most in-depth meeting in years. The senator tells Josh Rogin about Obama’s plans for Syria—and the region’s frustration with U.S. inaction on the war.
Following his role in avoiding a nuclear war over filibuster reform, Sen. John McCain was invited with his friend Sen. Lindsey Graham to meet with President Obama in the White House on Thursday to talk about foreign policy, the most in-depth meeting in years between Obama and his fiercest critics on the issue.
Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) is surrounded by reporters as he and other lawmakers walk to a closed-door meeting July 15 in the Old Senate Chamber for a showdown between Republican and Democratic leaders over presidential nominees who have been blocked by a GOP filibuster. (J. Scott Applewhite/AP)
McCain sat down with The Daily Beast on Friday for a long interview about his White House meeting and his multicountry tour around the Middle East earlier this month, which included stops in Israel, Turkey, Qatar, Iraq, and Afghanistan. The Obama meeting lasted two hours, and attendees included Vice President Joe Biden and new National Security Adviser Susan Rice, although Obama did most of the talking on the administration side.
“The president’s invitation indicates that the president realizes that there is a very serious implosion of events ranging from across northern Africa and well into the Middle East,” McCain said. “He gave us many of his views, and we exchanged thoughts on these various situations.”
A diplomatic security agent on trial for murder in Honolulu was previously part of the ill-fated U.S. mission in Benghazi. Josh Rogin reports.
A State Department diplomatic security agent on trial for allegedly murdering an unarmed man in Hawaii was part of the original security detail for Ambassador Chris Stevens, who was killed last year when Islamic militants attacked the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya.
Esam Omran Al-Fetori/Reuters, via Landov
Chris Deedy is standing trial in Hawaii on second-degree murder charges related to the November 2011 killing of Hawaiian local Kollin Elderts during a 3 a.m. dispute in a Honolulu McDonald’s. Deedy was in Hawaii as part of the team protecting Hillary Clinton at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit, but was off duty when the shooting occurred. Much like the case of George Zimmerman’s shooting of Trayvon Martin in Florida, Deedy is claiming self-defense, and the details of the brawl are in dispute. Also, Deedy claims he was acting in a pseudo law enforcement capacity and says he can’t receive a fair trial in Hawaii due to racial tensions surrounding the case.
Before Deedy was assigned to Hawaii, he was part of a small group of diplomatic security agents that accompanied Ambassador Stevens into Benghazi to establish the U.S. mission there during the most tense period of the Libyan revolution.
President Obama's nominee to be ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, is a late convert to the pro-Israel cause, but today she promised to fiercely advocate for the Jewish state, including fighting to help Israel obtain a nonpermanent seat on the U.N. Security Council.
Charles Dharapak / AP Photos
Power, a close confidante of President Barack Obama and a former top White House official, received a warm welcome today at her confirmation hearing to replace Susan Rice as the U.S. permanent representative to the U.N. But senators pressed Power on her previous statements that caused a rift between her and elements of the pro-Israel community. Her answers showed that she has come around to the view that America’s role at the U.N. is to staunchly defend its top Middle East ally and to oppose Palestinian efforts to seek greater international recognition.
“The United States has no greater friend in the world than the state of Israel,” Power told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Wednesday. “We share security interests, we share core values, and we have a special relationship with Israel.”
Top senators endorsed two candidates Tuesday to replace Janet Napolitano as secretary of Homeland Security: former DHS deputy secretary Jane Holl Lute and former Coast Guard commandant Thad Allen.
Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images
Napolitano announced July 12 that she would resign her position to become the next president of the University of California. While several names have been floated for her replacement, on Capitol Hill, Lute and Allen have the most senior level support.
Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE), the chairman of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, told The Daily Beast Tuesday that he and committee ranking Republican Tom Coburn (R-OK), would like to see Lute get the job.
Anger over the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the death of Trayvon Martin has stretched all the way from Sanford, Florida, to Syria, where residents of a besieged town weighed in on the verdict Monday.
Raed Fares Facebook page
“Martin family!,” reads a sign drawn up by the rebels in the Syrian town of Kafr Anbel, part of the Syrian city of Idlib. “The Syrians are the best who know what it’s like to lose loved ones by immune criminals.”
The northwestern Syrian town, known as the “the creative center of the revolt,” has been making sardonic signs mocking Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his regime for years. Other signs have lashed out at the U.N. for failing to stop the bloodshed in Syria, as well as the foreign countries aiding Assad, such as Russia, Iran, and North Korea.
Hundreds of U.S. and Chinese officials met for two days in Washington last week but couldn’t come to terms over who was responsible for NSA leaker Edward Snowden’s departure from Hong Kong late last month.
Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi (L) and US Ambassador to China Gary Locke (C) listen while US Deputy Secretary of State William Burns speaks during an eco-partnership Event at the US Department of State July 11, 2013. (Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty)
The U.S. dispute with the government of Hong Kong over Snowden, who was allowed to board a flight to Moscow in late June despite a provisional arrest request issued by the U.S. Justice Department, has never been resolved. Hong Kong officials claimed that the U.S. government failed to respond to requests for additional information and identified Snowden’s middle name as “Joseph,” not James. But U.S. officials have said repeatedly the request was valid on its face and should have been honored.
At a July 12 press conference with senior U.S. and Chinese government officials, Deputy Secretary of State Bill Burns criticized Beijing, as well as Hong Kong, for letting Snowden go to Russia, where he still sits in an airport transit terminal weighing various Latin American asylum offers.
A career diplomat takes on what may be a higher profile than she’d like. Josh Rogin and Eli Lake report.
U.S. Ambassador Anne Patterson has become the public face in Egypt of America’s policy failure there. Now, she is charged with restoring not only U.S. relations with the world’s most populous Arab nation, but her own reputation as well.
A photograph of U.S. Ambassador to Egypt Anne Patterson is burned outside the Ministry of Defense in Cairo, Egypt, on June 28, 2013. (Keith Lane/MCT, via Getty)
On paper, Patterson seemed like the ideal diplomat to guide U.S. involvement in Egypt during its transition from six decades of military rule to democracy, given her experience in politically volatile countries such as Colombia and Pakistan. An unusually influential ambassador, she played a major role in forming the U.S. approach to the Muslim Brotherhood and its Freedom and Justice Party led by Mohamed Morsi, the elected president who was arrested and removed from office by the Egyptian Army a week ago after tens of millions of Egyptians took to the streets to protest his rule.
But while her American defenders credit Patterson with taking a realistic approach to a volatile situation, many in the Egyptian opposition regard her as the person responsible for America’s close embrace of Islamists in Egypt. During the protests that led to the fall of Morsi’s government, her face, crossed out with a red X, became the symbol for many Egyptians of what they saw as U.S. discouragement of their efforts.
The move is “a prime example of our dysfunctional Syria policy,” a senior aide to a Senate Republican tells Josh Rogin.
The State Department approved a visa for a new Syrian diplomat sent to Washington by the Assad regime several weeks ago and then revoked it today—but not before the diplomat had boarded his plane to Washington. He is being deported now in what lawmakers and opposition figures see as the latest debacle in the Obama administration’s handling of the Syria crisis.
The Harry S. Truman Building, headquarters for the State Department. (J. Scott Applewhite/AP)
“I cannot comment on an individual visa case beyond confirming that Ali Daghman’s visa has been revoked,” a State Department official told The Daily Beast Tuesday, referring to the incoming Syrian diplomat. “As a matter of policy and given the Syrian regime’s continuing assault on its own people, we have taken steps to further restrict entry of even the few remaining Syrian officials staffing the Embassy in Washington.”
Sources told The Daily Beast that Daghman’s visa was not revoked until after Daghman had already departed for D.C. and after Congressional offices and Syria opposition groups protested to the State Department, urging them not to let a regime loyalist diplomat into the country. The State Department was also considering approving the visas for two more diplomats being sent to Washington by the regime, but those visa applications have not been granted or denied and sit in bureaucratic limbo, these sources said.
With Obama still unable to get Putin to give up leaker Edward Snowden, members of Congress are stepping up—and preparing punitive measures of their own, reports Josh Rogin.
If the Obama administration can’t force Russia to turn over NSA leaker Edward Snowden, leaders on Capitol Hill from both parties say they are preparing punitive measures of their own to try and force Russian President Vladimir Putin to stop Snowden from fleeing to a country outside of America’s reach.
Supporters hold pictures of President Barack Obama and Edward Snowden at a demonstration in Hong Kong earlier this month. (Kin Cheung/AP)
“We are exploring what are the leverage points. I’m trying to put together a package to let the Russians know how serious we are,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) told The Daily Beast in an interview. “We have to respond, this is a defining moment in the relationship.”
Graham declined to elaborate on what his “package” of items to pressure Russia might include. For some Republicans, such as Graham and his cohort Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), Putin’s handling of the Snowden issue is only the latest sign that Russia is backsliding when it comes to democracy and the rule of law.
Top U.S. officials are furiously pressing their Russian counterparts to hand over the whistleblowing fugitive, reports Josh Rogin.
Behind the scenes, a flurry of top U.S. officials, acting on the belief that NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden is still in Russia, have been pressuring the Kremlin to hand over the fugitive, and threatening Russia with retaliation if that demand is not met that could include refusing to honor criminal extradition requests from Moscow.
Journalists show passengers arriving from Hong Kong a tablet with a photo of Edward Snowden, at Sheremetyevo airport, just outside Moscow, June 23, 2013. (Alexander Zemlianichenko/AP)
Several high-level American officials have been in repeated contact with their Russian counterparts since Snowden, age 30, arrived in Moscow Sunday after the Hong Kong government refused to honor a U.S. extradition request and allowed him to board an Aeroflot flight. U.S. government anger is at a fever pitch with the governments of Russia, Hong Kong, and China, which is believed to have played a hand in letting Snowden flee Hong Kong, a semi-autonomous part of the People’s Republic.
State Department officials have promised retaliation for all three governments, but recognize that as of now, Russia is the only one that can still play a helpful role in returning Snowden to the U.S. to face three felony charges filed over the weekend, including two under the Espionage Act.
The White House says it will increase assistance to Syria’s rebels. But will it be enough to prevent Aleppo from falling?
Thursday’s announcement that the Syrian regime has used chemical weapons and that President Obama has decided to give the Syrian rebels increased “military assistance” comes as the Syrian opposition and their allies prepare to defend the city of Aleppo. But the battle might come before the aid arrives.
A Syrian man (center) identifies the bodies of people killed, according to activists, by Syrian forces loyal to Bashar al-Assad on May 2 in Bayda. (The Syrian Revolution Against Bashar Assad/AP)
In a statement and conference call late Thursday, the White House made a stunning revelation: the U.S. intelligence community can now certify with “high confidence” that the Syrian regime has used chemical weapons, sarin gas specifically, against its own people in small scales on multiple occasions, resulting in 100 to 150 deaths. The use of chemical weapons crosses Obama’s “red line,” the White House said, and has caused Obama to “change his calculus” about how the U.S. should respond to the ever deepening crisis in Syria.
White House Deputy National-Security Adviser Ben Rhodes told reporters that Obama had made a decision to increase both “the scope and the scale” of the “military assistance” the U.S. would be providing to the Free Syrian Army and the Supreme Military Command, led by Gen. Salem Idris. But Rhodes repeatedly refused to say whether the increased aid would include lethal aid, weapons that could actually be used to kill people, rather than nonlethal aid in the form of communications and intelligence support and items that have a military application, such as body armor and night-vision goggles.
What happens when you don’t intervene in Syria? Bill Clinton said that Obama risks looking like a ‘wuss,’ a ‘fool,’ and ‘lame’ by sitting on the sidelines. Josh Rogin reports.
In sharp remarks directed against his Democratic successor and his wife’s former boss, President Bill Clinton said Tuesday that President Barack Obama risks looking like a “wuss,” a “fool,” and “lame” for not doing more to influence events in Syria.
Former U.S. President Bill Clinton attends 72nd Annual Father of the Year Awards on June 11, 2013, in New York City. (Slaven Vlasic/Getty)
Clinton, speaking with Sen. John McCain Tuesday night in a closed press event sponsored by the McCain Institute, contrasted Obama’s inaction in Syria to his own action in the 1999 NATO intervention in Kosovo, which included the bombing of the forces of Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic. Clinton said a president must look beyond public and congressional reluctance to military intervention for the sake of national security and to save lives.
“You just think how lame you’d be … suppose I had let a million people, two million people be refugees out of Kosovo, a couple hundred thousand people die, and they say, ‘You could have stopped this by dropping a few bombs. Why didn’t you do it?’ And I say, ‘because the House of Representatives voted 75 percent against it?’” Clinton said. “You look like a total wuss, and you would be.”
The Kremlin cheated on a nuclear pact it signed with the United States, the U.S. government believes—and Secretary Kerry was briefed on the violations almost a year ago.