Four State Department staffers who were put on administrative leave after the terrorist attack on the consulate in Benghazi returned to work Wednesday and Republicans in Congress are calling foul.
Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., the ranking member of the Senate's Foreign Relations Committee, blasted the Obama administration's decision.
"I am highly disappointed that no one at the State Department will be held accountable in any real way over the failures that led to the tragedy in Benghazi," Corker said in a statement. "I don't understand how this administration will ensure accountability at one of our most vital government departments without disciplining those who fail in their duties."
Deputy Assistant Secretary of in the Maghreb Region Raymond Maxwell, Diplomatic Security Chief Eric Boswell and security experts Charlene Lamb and Scott Bultrowicz were removed from their posts in December, and placed on administrative leave with pay. Since then, the State Department's independent review board has examined mounds of evidence to discover who was responsible for the tragedy.
A State Department statement Tuesday explained Secretary of State John Kerry personally and carefully considered each individual's track record at the agency and "reaffirmed its finding that no employee breached their duty or should be fired but rather that some should be reassigned. "
Republicans have said Kerry's decision to reinstate the employees in question is further evidence that no one has been held responsible for the death of U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.
"I am bitterly disappointed that no one has paid a price for the State Department's denying of numerous requests for additional security made by Ambassador Stevens and his team in Libya," Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. said. " Our compound in Benghazi became a death trap because people in Washington were deaf and blind to their pleas for help."
Maxwell had been outspoken about the fact that he was wrongly blamed for the tragic events of Benghazi. The long-time foreign serviceman wrote dozens of poems publicly asserting his innocence and belief that he had been wrongly accused of neglecting his duties.
House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., vowed earlier this week to use the recent news to continue to build on his case that the administration is covering up the truth behind the Sept. 11, 2012 terrorist attack. Issa's dogged pursuit to investigate the tragedy has become a conservative rallying cry that he warns will not dissipate anytime soon.
"Instead of accountability, the State Department offered a charade that included false reports of firings and resignations and now ends in a game of musical chairs where no one misses a single day on the State Department payroll," Issa said in a statement. "The Oversight Committee will expand its investigation of the Benghazi terrorist attack to include how a supposed 'Accountability Review Board' investigation resulted in a decision by Secretary Kerry not to pursue any accountability from anyone."