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Hillary's 'email-gate' now linked to whistle-blower's description of State Department boiler-room operation set up to hide documents after Benghazi
An Accountability Review Board demanded documents related to the 2012
Benghazi terror attack but important details were kept from them
Former Deputy Assistant Secretary said a weekend boiler-room scramble 'separated' papers that might reflect badly on Hillary Clinton
He was scapegoated, he claims, and told by a State Department's ombudsman: 'It's not about you; it's about Hillary and 2016'
Allegations have new importance as Clinton admitted destroying more than 30,000 'personal' emails on a private server at her Chappaqua, NY house
By David Martosko, Us Political Editor For Dailymail.com
Published: 09:52 EST, 16 March 2015 | Updated: 14:40 EST, 16 March 2015
The latest twist in the alleged cover-up of former secretary of state Hillary Clinton's private emails involves a former senior diplomat who said State Department officials conspired to prevent investigators from seeing documents related to the 2012 Benghazi, Libya terror attack.
Some of those documents may have been emails that went through the now-infamous private email server Clinton kept at her Chappaqua, New York home.
If they still exist, they could shed light on Clinton's actions following the deadly Benghazi raid by militants acting with Ansar al-Shariah, an Islamist terror faction linked to al-Qaeda.
Ambassador Chris Stevens and three security personnel perished in a hail of gunfire, grenades and mortars.
WHISTLE-BLOWER: Raymond Maxwell was Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern affairs when al-Qaeda-linked militants stormed a US diplomatic facility in Benghazi, Libya and killed four Americans
GATEKEEPER: Clinton's then-State Department chief of staff Cheryl Mills (left) was accused of setting up a secret operation to segregate Benghazi-related materials that might make Hillary look bad
'What difference, at this point, does it make?' Clinton famously snapped in a 2013 Senate hearing when confronted with the tall tale that an anti-Islam YouTube video, not a terror plot, sparked the Benghazi death and destruction in Sept. 11, 2012
Raymond Maxwell, a former deputy assistant secretary for Near Eastern affairs, last year told The Daily Signal, a news outlet operated by the conservative Heritage Foundation, that a room in the basement of the State Department was converted to a makeshift document review center on a weekend, supervised by Clinton confidantes including some linked to then-chief of staff Cheryl Mills.
Maxwell claimed he was scapegoated for objecting to the secret boiler-room operation, which he said was organized in order to keep damning documents from the prying eyes of an internal Accountability Review Board.
On a weekend in a basement room, Maxwell recalled to Daily Signal journalist Sharyl Attkisson, employees were instructed to sift through boxes of documents and separate out anything that might make Clinton or her close associates look bad in the wake of the terrorist murders of four Americans including the ambassador to Libya.
'I was not invited to that after-hours endeavor, but I heard about it and decided to check it out on a Sunday afternoon,' Maxwell said.
Inside, says Maxwell, employees – including an employee who reported to him – were busily covering up information that suggested higher-ups were responsible for the lax security at the U.S. diplomatic outpost in Benghazi, Libya.
ICONIC OR IRONIC? The image of Clinton working her Blackberry while on a plane en route to Tripoli, Libya took on new significance with her admission that she never used a 'state.gov' email account, one that would have automatically archived all her correspondence
Maxwell claimed State Department higher-ups close to then-Secretary Hillary Clinton worked over a weekend to scrub boxes of documents , before giving the remainder to investigators
A senior adviserto Clinton's office explained the operation to him.
'She told me, "Ray, we are to go through these stacks and pull out anything that might put anybody in the [Near Eastern Affairs] front office or the seventh floor in a bad light",' Maxwell remembered.
The seventh floor of the State Department is the showplace level that houses Clinton's office and those of her closest aides.
'I asked her, "But isn't that unethical?" Maxwell said. 'She responded, "Ray, those are our orders",'
Minutes later, he said, Mills came into the room and demanded to know, 'Who are you?'
Hillary Clinton says she should have used gov email account.
ULTIMATE INSIDER: Cheryl Mills has been part of the Clinton inner circle since the 1990s, defending Bill Clinton against impeachment proceedings and even the 'bimbo eruptions' that once threatened to derail the famous womanizer's presidential ambitions
A month after the deadly military-style assault, the Accountability Review Board's leaders demanded to see documents that could help explain what happened.
Top officials in the of the State Department's Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs were instructed to gather anything and everything that could help.
Those were the documents, Maxwell told The Daily Signal, that were boxed up and put in the basement room where Clinton insiders would later screen out the most damaging information before giving the ARB the rest.
The current controversy over Clinton's emails – she exclusively used a private address instead of one hosted at 'state.gov' – now suggests that emails to and from Clinton may have been among them.
Clinton conceded last week that she deleted more than 30,000 of those emails, calling them 'personal' and not 'work-related.'
Her attorney claimed Sunday that every deleted email was reviewed by someone. South Carolina Rep. Trey Gowdy, who chairs a special congressional committee tasked with investigating the Benghazi attacks, insists that Clinton and her inner circle can't be trusted to vet the material on their own.
National Review linked the Maxwell episode with Clinton's 'email-gate' on Monday, noting that Mills – along with Clinton deputy chief of staff Huma Abedin – had email addresses on Clinton's private server.
DEVIL HORNS: Hillary Clinton's reputation has taken a hit over her handling of emails during her tenure as America's top diplomat – leading to more chuckles than outrage at the inadvertent Beelzebub treatment on a TIME magazine cover
Trey Gowdy, a South Caroline Republican congressman at the helm of a special Benghazi investigative committee, is outraged that Clinton and her insiders took it upon themselves to decide which emails were turned over to the State Department for archiving
Maxwell called the review board investigation 'at best a shoddily executed attempt at damage control, both in Foggy Bottom and on Capitol Hill.'
State Department spokesman Alec Gerlach has called his accusations 'totally without merit.'
Foggy Bottom is the Washington, D.C. neighborhood that hosts the State Department's sprawling headquarters.
Ultimately, State's review board cleared Clinton of any wrongdoing, perhaps aided by the absence of incriminating emails – even though it never interviewed her.
The September 11 attack more than two years ago followed a separate bombing of the facility's outer wall four months earlier that left a giant hole.
Days later, Ansar al-Shariah held two days of open-air rallies and parades including 30 fighting battalions in the city's main square.
Speakers at the event warned of 'assassinations' that would come.
Clinton – the Democratic Party's front-runner in the 2016 presidential sweepstakes – and others at State have been criticized for denying repeated requests from Ambassador Chris Stevens for more security officers, including some that came after these events. .
Ansar al-Shariah, the terrorist group that laid waste to the US diplomatic outpost in Benghazi, held two days of threatening parades and rallies a few months earlier and called for 'assassinations' -- leading to questions about why security at the compound was lacking
Militants attack US consulate in Benghazi (Archive)
Maxwell was one of four officials officially saddled with the blame. He was later cleared of wrongdoing.
He was, however, placed on indefinite leave, with pay, while the State Department investigated.
Struggling to clear his name, Maxwell met with an agency ombudsman who he says told him, 'You are taking this all too personally, Raymond. ... It's not about you; it's about Hillary and 2016.'
Judicial Watch president Tom Fitton, whose organization has dented the Obama administration's Benghazi armor with a series of Freedom Of Information Act lawsuits, told MailOnline that 'Maxwell's disclosures are no surprise to those of us who know the Clintons' penchant for illicit secrecy.'
'The Benghazi cover-up was and is about protecting two presidential campaigns – Obama's 2012 reelection campaign and Hillary's nascent 2016 campaign,' Fitton said.
'Our Ambassador and three other American personnel die in a terrorist attack and the number one concern at State is protecting Hillary Clinton! First we have the supposedly missing IRS emails and now we may have missing Benghazi documents?'