Managing Partner Andrew Bakaj speaks with CNN about former CIA Director John Brennan’s security clearance situation.

“The President’s ‘revocation’ of Mr. Brennan’s security clearance creates a troubling precedent,” said Andrew Bakaj, a former CIA official who works on national security law and clearance issues in Washington.

Bakaj, who wrote the intelligence community’s guidelines on protecting whistleblowers and responding to retaliation under the law, said “the President’s claim that Mr. Brennan’s clearance revocation has something to do with the Russia investigation could, actually, be construed as being retaliatory in nature — which is prohibited.”

Trump “would be well advised to reconsider his decision — and any future contemplated decisions of this nature — and Mr. Brennan should certainly consider challenging the action,” Bakaj said.

To read the article, click here.

Compass Rose Black on White TRANSPARENT

Chuck McCullough_grey bg BLACK AND WHITEWASHINGTON, DC – I. Charles McCullough, III, former Intelligence Community Inspector General appointed by President Barack Obama, has joined Compass Rose Legal Group, PLLC as Partner. This is a significant milestone for the firm, now one of the premiere boutique security clearance, federal employment, and national security law firms in the nation’s capital.

“It’s an absolute honor to have Chuck McCullough join the firm as Partner. His depth of knowledge, leadership experience, and practical application of the law cannot be understated,” says Andrew P. Bakaj, the founding and Managing Partner of the firm. “He is an asset to the firm because he is an asset to our clients.”

“I’m elated to be joining Compass Rose Legal Group,” says McCullough. “I sincerely believe this is an opportunity to work in a variety of practice areas on behalf of our clients, whether they are individuals or corporations. Ultimately, Compass Rose Legal Group is the ideal platform to provide high quality legal representation and thoughtful counsel to clients, allowing us to effectively meet their individual needs.”

McCullough’s experience cannot be understated. As the first Intelligence Community Inspector General, he reported directly to then-Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper, and oversaw intelligence officers responsible for audits, inspections, investigations, whistleblower protection, and Intelligence Community Whistleblowing.  His jurisdiction as Inspector General covered all activities drawing upon the National Intelligence budget distribution to seventeen Intelligence Community Elements.

In his capacity as the Intelligence Community Inspector General, McCullough also led the Intelligence Community Inspectors General Forum, comprising all 17 Inspectors General that make up the Intelligence Community, and testified before Congress on complex counterterrorism and counterintelligence-related reviews. For example: McCullough led the Intelligence Community’s investigation into the events leading up to the Boston Marathon Bombing as well as the Intelligence Community’s investigation and analysis into Secretary Hillary Clinton’s e-mails during her tenure as Secretary of State. His path-breaking National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) review led to a significant change in Federal policy regarding the reporting of criminal admissions during polygraph tests. Moreover, he has openly testified before Congress about the same and, as such, has extensive experience in directly working with U.S. Senators and Members of Congress.

McCullough’s background as a seasoned leader, decorated investigator, and attorney prepared him to be the Intelligence Community Inspector General. Prior to his Presidential appointment, he held positions with the National Security Agency (NSA), the U.S. Department of the Treasury, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). At the NSA, McCullough oversaw global investigations and special inquiries into allegations of fraud, ethics violations, whistleblower reprisal matters, and allegations regarding the misuse of intelligence collection authorities. At Treasury, McCullough provided legal and policy advice regarding criminal enforcement, national security, and personnel matters to senior department officials. During his ten-year career in the FBI, he worked as a Special Agent, Supervisory Special Agent, Associate Division Counsel, and Special Assistant United States Attorney. He was a member of FBI SWAT, oversaw an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force, and participated in numerous high-profile federal investigations and prosecutions.

“Few attorneys possess the credentials that Chuck does. Whether it’s a security clearance matter, a discrete investigative matter, or advising clients who may be preparing to testify before Congress, Chuck will provide them with adept legal guidance and practical advice uniquely tailored to their needs,” said Bakaj. “This is why I’m excited for him to be joining the firm. There is no other way to say it: I’m looking forward to unleashing him and letting him do what he does best.”

About Compass Rose Legal Group, PLLC

Compass Rose Legal Group, PLLC is a boutique security clearance, federal employment, and national security law firm. Based in Washington, DC but with global capabilities, the firm’s practice areas include, but are not limited to: security clearance, federal employment (including whistleblower representation), federal criminal & administrative investigations, and government & media relations.

Compass Rose Black on White TRANSPARENT

Compass Rose Legal Group’s Founding and Managing Attorney Andrew Bakaj is quoted extensively in a ThinkProgress article about the migrant children matter. Andrew’s comments concern Members of Congress requesting the Office of Inspectors General for the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Health and Human Services to conduct an inquiry on the matter.

Below is an except of the article. The full article can be accessed by clicking here.

*** Begin Excerpt***

Inspectors General are meant to be entirely independent from both institutional culture and political influence, said Andrew Bakaj, a former official in the Pentagon and CIA OIGs who now runs the Compass Rose Legal Group in Washington, D.C. That independence mostly relies on the individual leaders of the offices, he said, noting that DHS currently has only an acting Inspector General.

“It has to do with the personality of the IG, if they have a strong enough constitution to be able to not be swayed and to do what they’re obligated to do,” said Bakaj. “They need to let the facts lead the way and not let opinion drive how the analysis is conducted. That’s why Inspectors General are unpopular — it’s not about what you want, it’s about what you uncover.”

The Dems’ decision to ask for OIG investigations via letter rather than to badger their Republican colleagues to use Congress’ own investigative purview here is also likely to deliver better, clearer information, Bakaj said — albeit much more slowly.

“When Congress asks people to testify and come to the Hill, they have to be honest and candid but they’re going to tell Congress what is given to them by the agency,” he said. “The IG has access to the agency, period. They can walk in and demand interviews, demand documents [and] employees are obligated to cooperate.”

The resulting process can take months and be frustratingly opaque to the public. The slower and quieter the investigation, Bakaj said, the more likely it is that it’s being conducted thoroughly and responsibly.

Lawmakers asked the OIGs in their letter this week to pursue five specific questions: How exactly are the departments keeping records on the separated families, how quickly would they be able to reunite families on average, what exactly does that process look like, how does it differ for families where the parent has already been deported while the children remain in U.S. custody, and are any children missing from the departments’ records such that they could not be reunited at all?

The text of the letter further clarifies exactly what information the lawmakers are seeking. Upon hearing the specific text of the questions, Bakaj said they were well crafted to deliver the fastest possible response from investigators — especially given the sheer number of people making the request.

“The internal review will be conducted a lot more expeditiously when you have so many members of congress,” he said. “And the good thing about these questions is they are narrow and specific. It’ll be easy enough to scope out what they have to do. Hopefully it means they’ll be able to get an answer in a more timely manner.”

Compass Rose Black on White TRANSPARENT

On June 11, 2018, CRLG Managing Attorney Andrew Bakaj and colleagues Mark Zaid and Dan Meyer will be teaching a DC Bar Continuing Legal Education Course on Handling Whistleblower Claims. To register, click on the link below. For those unable to attend in person, there will also be an on-demand webinar of this course. https://bit.ly/2sniAaz

Description: Some might say whistleblowers are the lifeblood of government transparency. But how, as attorneys, do you best represent those who wish to expose alleged wrongdoing of their employer? Where do you take them? What if the information is classified and against the law to reveal, even to you as the attorney? What is the difference between leaking and whistleblowing? Can government agencies bar whistleblowing through non-disclosures agreement or policies? What significant legal differences exist between protecting a whistleblower’s security clearance and other forms of reprisal? Learn how best to handle whistleblower cases from distinguished experts with years of practical experience from within and outside the federal government. This class will explore the applicable laws and provide practical anecdotes from various whistleblower scenarios and cases.

Faculty: Andrew Bakaj, Compass Rose Legal Group, PLLC; Dan Meyer, former Executive Director for Intelligence Community Whistleblowing & Source Protection, Office of the Inspector General of the Intelligence Community; Mark S. Zaid (Course Chair), Law Office of Mark S. Zaid, P.C.

Compass Rose Black on White TRANSPARENT

Compass Rose Legal Group’s Managing Attorney Andrew Bakaj was quoted in two stories about the Intelligence Community’s Whistleblower Protection Program and the events surrounding its Director. He was also quoted extensively about the absence of the Acting Intelligence Community Inspector General from Washington, DC, who was studying full time at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government.

Concerning the Intelligence Community Whistleblower Protection Program, Mr. Bakaj was quoted saying:

Bakaj said he worries that the acting decision makers at the intelligence community IG’s office misinterpret Meyer’s advocacy as a defense of illegal leaking. “Whistleblower is a polarizing term,” Bakaj told Government Executive. “When they hear the word, a lot of folks think of Edward Snowden or [Chelsea] Manning. But the program’s two-fold purpose is to encourage folks to come forward with information on a problem that the agencies needs to know about, and is also a mechanism to prevent people from making classified information public.”

Bakaj, now a managing attorney at Compass Rose Legal Group, said it was difficult for intelligence agencies to relate to a ground-breaking program, which made Meyer a “lightning rod” after the names of senior officials and political appointees began appearing in news articles about possible misconduct.

It doesn’t help, he added, that acting IG Stone is a part-time leader who is studying at Harvard University. “The U.S. government has a lot of folks going to universities to obtain degrees, and I don’t begrudge them that,” Bakaj said. But if someone has risen to the level of being acting chief of an agency, he should already have the qualifications. “It’s confounding—who’s in charge of the office while he’s at Harvard?

The full article can be accessed by clicking here.

Concerning the Acting Inspector General, Mr. Bakaj was quoted saying:

It is my understanding that he spent most of his time at Harvard instead of at Washington. You have a problem right there,” Bakaj told the Sun. “Instead of being physically present and leading the ship. He went away, physically, with no access to classified information and no access to his staff.

The full article can be accessed by clicking here.

Compass Rose Black on White TRANSPARENT

Compass Rose Legal Group’s Managing Attorney Andrew Bakaj was quoted in a story in the Los Angeles Times this evening about Rob Porter and security clearances:

The Porter case is unusual, said Andrew P. Bakaj, a lawyer who represents clients in security clearance investigations, because such serious allegations often result in immediate suspension of an employee’s clearance. Agencies worry that someone in a sensitive position could be vulnerable to blackmail, he said.

“I would expect them to pull that interim clearance and say we need to come to grips with this and figure out what’s going on,” Bakaj said. “There’s a question about his potential criminal conduct and his personal conduct. It goes to the heart of his trust, reliability, good judgment and his ability to safeguard classified information.”

The full article can be accessed by clicking here.

Compass Rose Black on White TRANSPARENT