In December 2012, the NYT reported that four State Department officials were removed from their posts after an independent panel criticized the “grossly inadequate” security at a diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, that was attacked on Sept. 11, leading to the deaths of Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans. According to the report, the four officials “have been placed on administrative leave pending further action” citing the State Department’s spokeswoman as source.
The same report included a quote from Thomas R. Pickering, a former ambassador (and former #3 at the State Department) who led the independent review who said this: “We fixed it at the assistant secretary level, which is, in our view, the appropriate place to look, where the decision-making in fact takes place, where, if you like, the rubber hits the road.”
One of those four officials is Raymond Maxwell; he is also one of the three Deputy Assistant Secretaries who were thrown under the bus in the Benghazi fallout. He was the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Maghreb (North Africa) Affairs at the Bureau of Near East Affairs from 2011-2012. He advised the Assistant Secretary on the Maghreb and oversaw development, coordination and implementation of USG policy in the region. Previous to that, he was the Director of the Office of Regional and Multilateral Affairs (RMA) also at the Bureau of Near East Affairs from 2009-2011. More here.
Mr. Maxwell is also a poet with hopes of becoming “a music and poetry librarian in his next life.” This past April, we became aware that he participated in the National Poetry Writing Month, an annual project in which participating poets attempt to write a poem a day for the entire month (see his blog). We think one of his poems, “Invitation“is particularly striking. How can we not appreciate the dark humor of BYOB … “because of the continuing resolution?” Certainly, the poem is blunt and aims to shock but it also makes us think that as as long as one is the boss of words, one is not totally helpless. We received permission from Mr. Maxwell to republish the poem in this blog.
– Posted on April 1, 2013
The Queen’s Henchmen
request the pleasure of your company
at a Lynching – to be held
at 23rd and C Streets NW
on Tuesday, December 18, 2012
just past sunset.
Dress: Formal, Masks and Hoods -
the four being lynched
must never know the identities
of their executioners, or what/
whose sin required their sacrifice.
A blood sacrifice –
to divert the hounds -
to appease the gods -
to cleanse our filth and
satisfy our guilty consciences.
Arrive promptly at sunset –
injustice will be swift.
there will be no trial,
no review of evidence,
no due process, and no
Dress warmly -
a chilling effect will instantly
envelop Foggy Bottom.
A kangaroo court in
a banana republic.
Refreshments will not be served
because of the continuing resolution.
And the ones being lynched?
Who cares? They are pawns in a game.
Our game. All suckers, all fools,
all knaves who volunteered to serve -
Us. And the truth? The truth?
What difference at this point does it make?
In the event of inclement weather,
or the Queen’s incapacitation,
her Henchmen will carry out this lynching -
as ordered, as planned.
* * *
Thanks to Raymond Maxwell for allowing us to republish Invitation in this blog.