A Pentagon whistleblower claims that a Department of Defense official inappropriately incentivized investigators to target him, according to documents sent to Congressional lawmakers and obtained by the Daily Caller.
The security clearance of Adam Lovinger, a Trump-supporting, 12-year Pentagon analyst, was revoked after he questioned why politically connected contractors and FBI-informant Stefan Halper, who spied on the Trump campaign for the bureau, received well-paid contracts to conduct “inherently governmental functions.”
Through a Statement of Reason (SOR) response, drawn up by his lawyer Sean Bigley, Lovinger claims Jim Baker, the Department of Defense’s Director of the Office of Net Assessment (ONA), targeted him through several tactics, one of which was recommending two military officers for prestigious military medals as motivation to look into Lovinger as the target of a classified leak probe.
One of the investigators Baker assigned to the probe, ONA Chief of Staff Cmdr. Anthony Russell (USCG), received a “Recommendation for Award of the Defense Superior Service Medal.” Russell, according to Lovinger’s SOR, was the architect of two national security inquiries targeting Lovinger.
One of the more high-profile contractors ONA hired and Lovinger flagged was headed up by Jackie Newmyer-Deal, Chelsea Clinton’s “best-friend” in the “Long Term Strategy Group” or LTSG.
Over the past decade, LTSG secured more than $11.2 million in contracts from ONA. Lovinger warned his superiors at ONA about the legal issues specifically pertaining to LTSG’s Newmyer-Deal being designated as a “U.S. Representative” in bilateral foreign relation activities with the Japanese.
In an incident with another ONA contractor (not LTSG), Lovinger disclosed to Baker that the contractor copied a World Bank report onto the contractor’s own letterhead and passed it off as original work.
In August of 2016, Bill Gertz of The Washington Free Beacon wrote a series of pieces related to the ONA’s over-reliance on government contractors and the problems surfacing as a result.
The stories covered how much contractors were paid, the questionable value of their product, critical threats that went ignored, and favorable treatment of Clinton’s contractor friend Newmyer-Deal.
One unflattering article about the ONA in The Washington Free Beacon, was posted on November 23, 2016. The piece ended up revealing sensitive information provided by the Japanese government which had been included in an LTSG report prepared at the behest of ONA, according to Lovinger’s SOR.
During this time, Russell served as the action officer and primary American representative for the United States/Japan Bilateral Task Force, yet he bore no responsibility to the mishandling of the Japanese intelligence.
Instead, when Baker nominated Russell for his “Defense Superior Service Award” on May 31, he wrote that Russell had a “positive impact” on the Japanese/American alliance. Two days later Baker recommended Russell for a command position for having the “highest standards of ethics.” Lovinger’s security clearance was suspended and job detail canceled nearly a month earlier.
In his recommendation of Russell, Baker wrote, “Commander Russell was entrusted with handling several unique, very delicate personnel matters where he provided thoughtful, sound advice and acted with discretion and candor.” He continues, “His exquisite analysis of facts and balancing of considerations resulted in ideal courses of actions that upheld the highest standards of integrity and ethics.”
Russell’s investigation of Lovinger, however, seemed retaliatory even to Washington Headquarters Service General Counsel James Vietti, when Lovinger was up for a senior directorship at the National Security counsel and his superiors stopped the process.
Vietti told Russell in an e-mail on January 17, 2017, that his probe “could look like you’re trying to interfere with or hinder his advancement in some way—and that the e-mail would be sent after he complained to (I think I’m recalling this correctly) that Mr. Baker violated the Hatch Act.”
Vietti noted that it was important to “establish that this was—at least at the beginning—an inquiry into specific allegations of misconduct (rather than a ‘go forth and find a justification to fire him’ sort of investigation).”
He also suggested to Russell not to “get ahead of NSC’s possible concerns” of Lovinger and suggested to “pare back” an e-mail to them that would urge NSC not to bring on an employee under administrative inquiry right now.
Russell was not the only military officer reporting to Baker who was instructed to investigate Lovinger and to be nominated by Baker for a military medal. Baker designated Marine Lt. Col. Brian Bruggeman as investigating officer of the probe against Lovinger back on January 12, 2017.
Baker gave Bruggeman a Feb. 10 deadline for a report. Five days before the report was due, Baker recommended Bruggeman for the “Defense Superior Service Award.” Nevertheless, Bruggeman continued his investigation of Lovinger beyond the Feb. 10 deadline.
An e-mail exchange between Feb. 27 and 28 between Bruggeman and Lovinger related to setting up a meeting with one another included Bruggeman telling Lovinger that the meeting was his “last opportunity to cooperate.”
The meeting occurred on March 6, 2017 . On March 7, Lovinger’s attorney Thomas Spencer, sent a letter to Bruggeman memorializing the meeting had happened and that Bruggeman had promised to have a written recollection of his questions and answers, since Bruggeman previously forbade any audio recording of the meeting.
Although Lovinger met with Bruggeman and responded to his questions March 6, he was nevertheless accused of “refusing to cooperate” with Bruggeman, “which was tantamount to insubordination,” for failing to appear at previously scheduled interviews on February 21 and 23.
According to Lovinger’s SOR response to Bruggeman’s allegation, however, the delay occurred because Bruggeman “was ignorant of basic due process norms. While the DoD Inspector General requires DoD investigators to ‘possess professional proficiency for the tasks required,’ Bruggeman expressed shock, panic, embarrassment, and then anger when he learned that Lovinger had the right to legal counsel. This caused delay.”
Department of Defense Spokeswoman Heather Babb disputes Lovinger’s claim that Baker nominated Russell and Bruggeman for their respective awards as a result of investigating Lovinger. In an e-mail statement to The Daily Caller Friday, she wrote, “Medals for all military officers who serve in the Department of Defense are awarded according to strict rules and transparent policies, often as they move to their next duty station or into retirement. Officers in The Office of Net Assessment are no different from any others. Recognition was for performance throughout the course of their duties while working in ONA.”
Lovinger filed an ethics complaint against his accusers at the Department of Defense back in July, The Washington Times reported, stating that his superiors abused the security process to retaliate against him. Lovinger has four cases pending. These are criminal division, whistleblower reprisal, an appeal on his security clearance revocation and an ethics complaint.
Additionally, Judicial Watch filed a federal lawsuit earlier this week on behalf of Lovinger to order the Pentagon to release 75 pages of emails and other electronic messages that mention the Pentagon analyst.
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