06.14.2018 0

Is the Deep State manipulating security clearances?

By Rick Manning

In the initial days of the Trump administration, there were a few stories floating around about security clearance issues within the new administration. Upon further investigation, it seems some in government are using the security clearance process to keep out people it doesn’t want to advise the President. Is this another tactic by the Obama career holdovers to keep the President isolated and continue the failed policies of past administrations? Congress should immediately launch an investigation into the politicization of the security clearance process.

One of the first hints of trouble with the security clearance process was with Robin Townley. Shortly after President Trump won the election, he began to assemble his cabinet and appointed the former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, Lieutenant General Michael Flynn, to be his National Security Advisor. Flynn set about assembling his team to head the National Security Council (NSC).

Robin Townley was chosen by Flynn to serve as Senior Director for Africa on the NSC. Townley was an eminently qualified individual. He served as a former Marine Corps Intelligence Officer with a top-secret clearance, often serving with Flynn. However, the updated clearance for the NSC was denied by the CIA. The CIA gave no reason for the denial, but immediately it was believed politics played a role. Townley and Flynn had been harsh critics of the intelligence community in the past. Was this the IC fighting back?

One of the country’s preeminent intelligence experts believes the IC was fighting back against Flynn. In a piece for the Washington Times, Angelo Codevilla stated, “The CIA did not want to deal with him…Hence, it used the power to grant security clearances to tell the president to choose someone acceptable to the agency, though not so much to him.”

This isn’t the only example of security clearance manipulation for political reasons.

Adam Lovinger also appears to be a victim. Lovinger was a high-level attorney (GS-15) with the Office of Net Assessment (ONA). ONA is a highly secretive Pentagon think tank that studies what the military will look like in 20-30 years. He had a long distinguished career, including in 2006 earning the Secretary of Defense Exceptional Civilian Service Award, the highest career award for civil servants in the Office of Secretary of Defense. The last twelve years at ONA Lovinger received the highest possible rating on his performance reviews, exceptional.

Lovinger’s problem started when he raised questions about a contract handed out by the ONA. Long-Term Strategic Group (LTSG) received an $11.2 million contract. This happened despite the company not having a security clearance nor a facility to store classified material, which is exclusively what ONA works in. What LTSG did have going for it was friends in high places.

The company is owned by a close childhood friend of Chelsea Clinton. They are so close; they were in each other’s weddings. It also appears Hillary Clinton was pushing the company to get DOD contracts as well, according to emails released by the State Department. Lovinger warned of the danger of depending on outside contractors too much. This did not sit well with the higher ups.

When Lovinger was requested by the newly inaugurated Trump administration to serve as a senior director on the NSC, his clearance was mysteriously denied, despite having a high-level clearance for over a decade. Lovinger’s attorney, Sean Bigley, still has not seen the evidence that caused the denial, even though the Pentagon is required to provide the evidence within 30 days.

This case has reached the Pentagon’s Inspector General. An investigation was launched into ONA late last year looking into retaliation against whistleblowers. Incredibly while Lovinger’s case is still being adjudicated, the person responsible for denying him his security clearance has subsequently terminated his pay after refusing to recuse himself, leaving this whistleblower without a salary or a means to pay his bills. Apparently all because he had the audacity to question what on their face seem to be sweetheart contracts for Clinton friends.

It is interesting to note that ONA has found itself in the news recently as the government agency that shelled out hundreds of thousands of dollars to Stefan Halper, the government agent who attempted to infiltrate and spy on the Trump campaign for the Obama administration.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) has expressed his concern with the weaponization of security clearance issuance introducing legislation into the Senate National Defense Authorization Act to look at the issue. Cruz wants a report delivered to Congress when security clearances are stripped outside of the normal re-evaluating window. Cruz stated, “The amendment is meant to address concerns that our security-clearance process had been politicized and weaponized, which among other things erodes the public’s crucial faith in that system.”

Congress must get to the bottom of this problem. If the Deep State can manipulate the security clearance process, it can manipulate the information the politicians see. In a world where diversity is praised, why are they fighting diversity of thought? What danger is there?

Rick Manning is the President of Americans for Limited Government.

 

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