Exclusive: Jan. 6 select committee will include former CIA inspector general found to have retaliated against whistleblower
WASHINGTON - As the House Select Committee investigating the January 6 riots prepares to get underway next week, it will add former CIA Inspector General David Buckley to the role of Chief of Staff.
However, Buckley's selection for this role could haunt the Democrats on the committee who selected him. Yahoo News has received a previously unpublished report in 2019 produced by the Department of Homeland Security's watchdog bureau showing that investigators asked the CIA to take action against Buckley for alleged retaliation against a whistleblower, a conclusion the potential Witnesses who might testify would worry about the January 6 question.
The report's authors recommended that the CIA "at least" determine "whether [its] findings affect the security clearance of Buckley and several other senior officials - a grave censure that would affect both his future government agency work and his own Tenure would have impacted ". with the highly sensitive Capitol insurrection investigation.
The future of Buckley's security clearance remains uncertain, and it is unclear whether the CIA followed the report's recommendations or took action against Buckley or his former colleagues. The CIA declined to comment. Buckley did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The target of Buckley's retaliation, former CIA-IG official Andrew Bakaj has not yet received remedial action for a number of adverse measures that affected his career, including his leave of absence and suspension of his security clearance after facing an outside investigation into potential risks had collaborated on evidence manipulation in the office of the CIA inspector general.
While intelligence whistleblowers do not always have full protection against disclosure of evidence of government fraud, waste, abuse, and misconduct, several developments have emerged, including a 2012 policy directive by President Obama known as PPD19, to fill this gap. Indeed, Bakaj was responsible for enforcing Obama's directive with the CIA, which made him very familiar with the safeguards provided by law.
Bakaj's superiors, however, were frustrated when he failed to tell them that he had responded to requests for information from the Inspector General of the Intelligence Community, who was in charge of independent reviews that affected the agencies within the intelligence community.
Bakaj ultimately chose to retire rather than continue to suffer professional consequences, and later became the lead attorney for the still anonymous whistleblower who raised concerns about President Donald Trump's dealings with Ukraine.
He waited over five years for the Inspector General of the Department of Homeland Security to complete an impartial review of his retaliatory complaints, which he confirmed, Yahoo News reported in September 2019.
Former intelligence agent Andrew Bakaj. (Courtesy Andrew Bakaj)
The subject of the investigation into Buckley's actions as a CIA watchdog came up during his interviews for the position, according to a spokesman for the special committee on Jan. 6. During the interrogation, Buckley denied retaliating against Bakaj for his "alleged whistleblowing," despite an independent government agency backing the allegations.
When asked whether the committee took the DHS report into account during its recruitment process, the spokesman told Yahoo News that Buckley "had worked tirelessly for over four years to closely monitor the CIA and turn his office into a reputable and competent organization to convert ". Part of that work included "more training and supervision of its staff," the spokesman continued, changes that "some people were against".
But in their report, DHS investigators concluded that Buckley's decision to initiate an investigation into the Bakaj file in the first place, regardless of what it found, was "tainted" and motivated by retaliation.
The "investigation report" received from Yahoo News was sent to Christine Ruppert, then acting CIA inspector general, on June 10, 2019. While a previously published executive summary revealed that the CIA IG leadership had launched a “retaliatory investigation” into an employee whistleblower, the newly received 36-page report elaborates on the conclusions of the investigation and the specific individuals involved.
The report names Bakaj as the whistleblower who made the complaints and Buckley as one of the perpetrators.
Then the Central Intelligence Agency's Inspector General David Buckley testified before the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee about the lessons learned about the sharing of information and information after the April 30, 2014 Boston Marathon bombings in Washington, DC Information was drawn. (Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images)
According to the schedule of the report, Bakaj met with Deputy Inspector General of the Intelligence Community, Paul Wogaman, in April 2014 to help with an investigation into the CIA IG bureau. Upon hearing the revelation, his superiors got angry and told Bakaj to "confirm that the request was approved" before speaking to Wogaman, even though Bakaj was not responsible. In response, the CIA launched a review of his computer searches and other professional activities.
The investigation into Bakaj revealed a case in which he accessed a sensitive CIA file and copied it to his computer. However, the CIA could not find any evidence that Bakaj had done anything to the files, and he told interviewers the search was harmless. During the investigation, Buckley put Bakaj on administrative leave. Ultimately, the CIA concluded that the files were not leaked and the FBI refused to investigate Bakaj's computer searches. But by then he had withdrawn from the agency.
In 2015, after Bakaj retired after lengthy administrative leave, he filed a retaliatory complaint against the CIA. The DHS inspector general was brought in after discovering that the CIA hadn't checked it properly. "When reviewing the case file, the DHS-OIG found that the CIA-OIG had not carried out a full review by the local authority in accordance with PPD19," the investigators wrote.
DHS investigators found that the evidence revealed in Bakaj's complaint was legally protected. In addition, investigators concluded that the CIA OIG's investigation of his files "was a pretext to gather evidence to seek revenge against [Bakaj.]".
In addition, Bakaj's revelations are a "contributing factor" that led to his administrative leave and the suspension of clearance, investigators continued. There is "substantial evidence" that the CIA OIG "had a motive to take revenge against Bakaj," the investigators wrote.
Despite the fact that Buckley retired in 2015 to work for the US accounting, tax and advisory firm KPMG, the DHS-OIG forwarded the report to the CIA "to determine appropriate corrective action."
Although it is unclear whether the CIA responded to these recommendations, Christopher Sharpley, Buckley's former deputy who served as the CIA deputy IG in 2018, withdrew his nomination for the full-time IG job after his involvement in retaliation against Bakaj and others from the media.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California, announces the appointment of the Democrats to a new special committee to investigate the violent uprising of January 6 at the Capitol Hill in Washington on Thursday, July 1, 2021. From left are Rep. Elaine Luria, D-Va., Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., Rep. Stephanie Murphy, D-Fla., Rep. Pete Aguilar, D-Calif., Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., Rep . Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., And Rep. Bennie Thompson D-Miss. Who will chair the panel. Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., Who was ousted from the GOP leadership for criticizing Trump, accepted Pelosi's invitation to join the committee. (J. Scott Applewhite / AP)
The Democratic leadership's decision to hire Buckley despite the DHS conclusions has enraged former CIA-IG officials familiar with Buckley's tenure as well as whistleblower protection experts who, as a result, cast doubts about the legitimacy of the special committee's investigation to let.
Dan Meyer, who previously headed the whistleblowing and source protection program at the Inspector General of the Intelligence Community, told Yahoo News that he could not comment on the specific case due to a nondisclosure agreement. Meyer, currently managing partner of Tully Rinckey law firm, however, wrote in an email that "a corrupting management culture repeats", a pattern of behavior that "sources of Congress will pause".
"The IC whistleblowing program received a number of allegations from 2013-2018, some of which were based on the fact that the Inspectors General themselves retaliated against their own intelligence officers, ironically accused by President Obama and Director [James] Clapper of being whistleblowers protect, ”continued Meyer in his personal capacity. "It was an unexpected challenge that ultimately ended the program."
"No whistleblower is likely to trust someone who can be shown to have initiated retaliation," wrote Jason Foster, the former chief investigator of the Senate Judiciary Committee. "The chaos and partisanship that infect the process undermines the credibility of the committee, which at this point was a full-blown dumpster fire." While Foster has many Democratic critics, his former boss, Senator Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, has the protection of whistleblowers has been given top priority.
A former CIA IG employee told Yahoo News that he "got out of his seat" when he heard that Buckley had been selected to serve on the January 6 election committee. "There is an objective, impartial government agency that substantiated the allegations against him ... and now he will be chief of staff of a high visibility committee where whistleblowers will testify before the committee," he said. “That makes absolutely no sense. It spoils the whole process. "
Irvin McCullough, the assistant director of legislation at the nonprofit Government Accountability Project, agreed.
"The free flow of information through whistleblower testimony is the lifeblood of any Congressional investigation," McCullough wrote in an email to Yahoo News.
"How can whistleblowers safely appear before the special committee if a federal guard finds that his personnel director has been complained against a whistleblower?"
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