WASHINGTON, 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.
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 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.
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.
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.