by WorldTribune Staff, September 19, 2019
The Pentagon refused to release records in the case of a pro-Trump employee who was suspended and had his security clearance revoked.
Pentagon took the actions against analyst Adam Lovinger after he blew the whistle on questionable contracts the secretive Office of Net Assessment (ONA) had awarded Stefan Halper, who spied on the Trump campaign, as reported previously by WorldTribune.com.
The open records request submitted by The Washington Times for copies of administration decisions in the disciplining of Lovinger was rejected by the Pentagon, which said releasing the documents is prohibited because it would expose “communications protected by the deliberate process privileged” and “would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.”
The Pentagon is moving to terminate Lovinger’s employment after a judge found him guilty of sharing “sensitive” material and mishandling a document on an airplane trip, Rowan Scarborough noted in a Sept. 18 report for The Washington Times.
Lovinger, who has endured two appeals and a lengthy administration trial, has filed a whistleblower retaliation complaint with the Department of Defense inspector general.
The Pentagon’s Freedom of Information Division said in a Sept. 13 letter that it handed the Washington Times’ request to the Washington Headquarters Services (WHS), which prosecuted Lovinger.
Chakeia Regina, who heads the WHS clearance appeals board, said a total of 48 pages “must be withheld in its entirety,” the letter reads.
Lovinger’s attorney, Sean Bigley, said he has also been rebuffed in his own open records request. One WHS reply redacted every single word in an email thread.
Government watchdog group Judicial Watch, in a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit, uncovered a report from the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) which cleared Lovinger of wrongdoing.
Bigley said the WHS had ordered the analysis but never turned the report over to Lovinger for his trial in December.
The report, a copy of which was obtained by The Washington Times, said NCIS investigators found no sensitive material on any of Lovinger’s devices. It also cleared him of leaking to the media. And it said he wasn’t a counterintelligence threat.
Bigley says the document that Lovinger supposedly mishandled was labeled “classification pending.”
As an analyst in the ONA under Director James H. Baker, Lovinger complained internally that ONA was awarding questionable contracts for academic-type studies instead of researching authentic net assessments of future threats, Scarborough’s report noted.
One contractor he complained about was Halper, a Washington national security figure who worked as a FBI informant against the Trump campaign.
“After the 2016 election, Lovinger was granted a detail to the White House National Security Council to work for a president whose policies he supported. He stayed only a few months as Baker had initiated a security investigation and moved to strip him of his clearance, which happened,” Scarborough wrote.
As for Halper, the Defense Department inspector general examined ONA contracting methods and found a number of flaws.
“For one, the WHS and ONA had awarded Halper $1 million in contracts based on his proposals. He said he would interview a number of prominent national security figures and visit various military institutions. The IG said it could find no evidence in his reports that he had talked to such people,” Scarborough wrote.
On a 2016 Russia-China study, the Defense Department IG said: “ONA personnel could not provide us any evidence that Professor Halper visited any of these locations, established an advisory group, or met with any of the specific people listed in the statement of work.”