Raymond Maxwell: Former Deputy Asst Secretary Removed Over Benghazi Pens a Poem

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.
Total impunity.
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.

— DS

12 responses

  1. Pingback: Former State Dept. Official: Details of Maxwell’s Benghazi Document Story ‘Ring True’

  2. Pingback: Joseph Kurber » Snarky Poetry Blooms in the Benghazi Affair

  3. Pingback: “Invitation”: A Benghazigate poem | The Penn Ave Post

  4. Pingback: ‘The Queen's Henchmen’ | Latestwire

  5. Pingback: State official put on leave after Benghazi attack turned to poetry | Content Fusion

  6. “It really ain’t the place nor time to reel off rhyming diction, but yet we’ll write a final rhyme while waiting crucifixion.”…

  7. Well said. Though it seems not all of the four were lynched some were just hidden or not hidden.

  8. So who’s accountable? Who didn’t deal with Embassy Tripoli’s requests for additional security in a timely way? Did Chis Stevens personally approve the outgoing cables? Was it DS that dropped the ball? NEA? How high did the lack of response on security go? Just because Maxwell feels he was scapegoated doesn’t answer the question of how he handled Tripoli’s security concerns.

    • There where several requests for more security before this business, the question, who denied those request? ambassador Chris Stevens was on top of things working with what he had. He continued to ask for help until his death. Who denied request for help, would be responsible to a large degree. Where was the president for 8 hours during the actual event? This is a criminal matter matter make no mistake about that. Watergate has nothing on this, there was no deaths in Watergate!

    • It’s somewhat in the DNA of decision makers to be reflexively averse to funding improvements to temporary facilities. It’s just not done. Benghazi was such a temp facility. That’s not to say that improvements weren’t needed or shouldn’t have been funded. But historically, we don’t put significant money into facilities we plan to soon vacate. The argument to do so seldom goes higher than a regional bureau’s executive director because it is considered so unwise, and such bad form, to press the issue. Since DS doesn’t control the funding for a regional bureau’s facilities, ultimately the request would have to be supported by the bureau’s A/S as argued by the Ex Dir, and likely upward to M for concurrence and thence directed to RM to release the money.

      • Yes, but there could have been other things done that did not cost so much money. The US Military could have been used to save those lives. There is or was a lot of options there, right up to the last minutes, this is the shame of it all! Lastly, the President could have got on the horn or someone else and fought for those lives!