On Friday, January 31, 2020, the Metropolitan Washington Employment Lawyers Association named Andrew P. Bakaj and his co-counsel, Mark S. Zaid, “Lawyers of the Year” for their work representing the Intelligence Community Whistleblower whose disclosure led to the 2019 Impeachment Inquiry.

Bakaj represented the whistleblower from the beginning, guiding the individual towards the Intelligence Community Inspector General disclosure process. Zaid joined the case after it became public that the disclosure was not transmitted to Congress. Bakaj and Zaid represented the client’s interests throughout the process.

The MWELA “Lawyer of the Year” award is bestowed annually to one or two employment attorneys in the Washington, DC region whose significant accomplishments embody the mission of the association to advance and protect the rights of individuals.

MWELA is a 501(c)(4) organization comprised of over 300 lawyers who regularly advise and represent employees in employment and civil rights disputes. MWELA is the local chapter of the National Employment Lawyers Association, a national organization of more than 3,000 lawyers dedicated to the advancement of employee rights.

To learn more about MWELA, click here.

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Chuck McCullough, Partner with CRLG, gives an interview about his time as the Intelligence Community Inspector General at the center of the Hillary Clinton e-mail investigation, career as an FBI Agent investigating Oklahoma City, and his role in reviewing the Boston Marathon bombing.

To listen to the interview, click here.

 

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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.

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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.

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Compass Rose Legal Group’s Managing Attorney Andrew Bakaj and colleague Mark Zaid write a follow-on article with Just Security regarding PPD-19 whistleblower protections.

Andrew and Mark are handling multiple clients with PPD-19 appeals, and they have already forged precedent-setting decisions.

While not the topic of the article, PPD-19 is the key mechanism by which federal employees and contractors can challenge adverse security clearance actions (ie. suspension, revocation, etc.) when the action follows lawful protected activity. For more information, contact CRLG at info@CompassRosePLLC.com.

To read this article, click here: Letter to the Editor: Whistleblower Protections Are Getting Stronger.

Links to prior and associated articles are here:

Whistleblower Reinstated in Job in Test Case for NSA and Intelligence Community.

New Case Proves Intelligence Community Whistleblowers Have Protections.

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A follow-on article to Managing Attorney Andrew Bakaj’s and colleague Mark Zaid’s Op-Ed in Just Security regarding activity within the NSA.

Andrew and Mark are handling multiple clients with PPD-19 appeals, and they have already forged precedent-setting decisions.

To read this article, please click here: Whistleblower Reinstated in Job in Test Case for NSA and Intelligence Community.

To read the original Op-Ed, click here: New Case Proves Intelligence Community Whistleblowers Have Protections.

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Today the firm’s Managing Attorney, Andrew Bakaj, and his colleague, Mark Zaid, had an op-ed published in Just Security about recent events at the National Security Agency (NSA) involving PPD-19, Protecting Whistleblowers with Access to Classified Information. The investigative program is one that Andrew developed at CIA, which is based on a program he refined at DoD.

In December, Adm. Mike Rogers, director of the NSA, placed the agency’s Inspector General (IG), Dr. George Ellard, on administrative leave and recommended he be removed from his position after an investigation into whether he retaliated against a whistleblower was conducted by a panel of IGs at the CIA, Treasury and Justice Department. This article explores the ramifications of this action.

To read this article, please click here: New Case Proves Intelligence Community Whistleblowers Have Protections.

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On January 26, 2017, ABC News Reported that President Trump issued a memorandum to certain Federal Employees restricting their communication with Congress. If true, this poses a problem for all Federal Employees because communications to Congress and the relevant Congressional Committees are protected communications by law. (see The Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act, the Intelligence Community Whistleblower Protection Act, and Title 10 as it applies to the Military (“No person may restrict a member of the armed forces in communicating with a Member of Congress or an Inspector General.”)).

Please note: certain Federal Employees, notably members of the Intelligence Community, must follow internal policies and procedures to properly communicate with Congress.

Under normal circumstances, an allegation of retaliation because an individual went to Congress would be the subject of a whistleblower reprisal investigation. The restrictions imposed by the President, which may run contrary to law, poses an interesting question:

Can the President of the United States be the subject of a Whistleblower Reprisal Investigation?

The short answer is: perhaps. If so, given the circumstances and the current environment here in Washington, I would posit that a Congressional Committee would be the only body that could effectively and independently investigate such an allegation.

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