I. Charles McCullough, Partner, Interviewed by ClearanceJobs.com and Discusses the Security Clearance Process
June 19, 2019Chuck McCullough, Partner with the firm, discusses the security clearance process and applicant’s prior history with drug use. To read the full article, click here or scroll down:
Why Sharing Adderall in College Could Cost You a Government Job
By David Brown / Jun 18, 2019 Prescription drug problems are the number one thing flagging candidates during polygraph examinations these days—and not for reasons you might think. Trading prescription medications—think: sharing Adderall in college, or offering a pain pill when a friend pulls her back—can disqualify you from getting a security clearance because agencies consider that “intent to distribute illegal narcotics.” Unlike, say, experimenting with cocaine that one time several years ago—something adjudicators might still rule favorably on—handing out your Adderall is an issue, and it is snagging a lot of job candidates. “The SF-86 covers it, but it seems like these things always come up in polygraphs,” says Charles McCullough, a partner with the Compass Rose Legal Group, and the former Inspector General of the Intelligence Community. “It pops up with onboard people during their five-year re-investigations, and it pops up with new applicants as well. If your spouse has a painkiller prescription for a dental issue, and you can’t sleep and decide to take some, that’s a problem from a clearance standpoint.” McCullough adds that for a one-off situation like that, an onboard worker can expect disciplinary action, but his or her clearance probably won’t be revoked. A clearance applicant who has done drugs within the last twelve months, however, or who has a felony drug conviction, will almost certainly be disqualified.
HONESTY ON THE FORM“Minimizing” answers on the SF-86, or being somehow less than truthful, is the worst thing you can do when filling out the form. It’s never a bad idea to speak with an attorney before submitting the application to find out when and how answers should be best explained. Elisions of one’s personal history can come back to haunt an applicant when he or she is strapped to a polygraph machine. “The polygraph, whether or not it’s good science, is basically an investigative and interviewing tool and it’s very effective,” says McCullough. Examinations are high pressure situations, and when people are hooked up to a polygraph, they tend quickly to become very, very honest about themselves. “The polygraph examiner is going to sit there with a yellow pad and pen and write everything down. The whole thing is being recorded. It’s being videotaped. It’s being audiotaped. And they’re going to say, ‘The needle isn’t bouncing your way. What’s wrong? What is it you are not telling me?’ And people tend to start disclosing everything over and over and over again, and if they haven’t already disclosed it on the form—if they minimized it on the SF-86 when they first applied—now we have an integrity issue. We’ve gone from just having a drug issue to having a personal conduct issue as well.” And that could be disqualifying. Another ghost that tends to haunt people is the SF-86 that they completed many years earlier. When you are young, you think: Well, I only need a secret clearance and I don’t have to take a polygraph… so why complicate things with messy admissions like sharing a few pills? A decade later, however, an older, wiser cleared worker with three kids and a mortgage is offered a big promotion or a job at a defense contractor… and suddenly they need a Top Secret/SCI clearance with a poly. That SF-86 that was filled out ten years ago is still around, and suddenly those minimizations years earlier are back in a big way. “When people fill out the SF-86, they really need to make sure they get it all down,” says McCullough. Adjudicators aren’t robots; they understand that life can be a little messy, and they use what is called a “whole person assessment” when deciding whether someone is eligible for a security clearance. “Obviously someone who is trafficking in heroin is going to be disqualified. But that’s not necessarily so for people who, say, experimented with drugs in college. Adjudicators are going to ask: What was the level of experimentation? Was it truly experimentation? Was there a habit? Was there addiction involved? Did they sell it? If they bought it, where did they get it from? Did they resell it to classmates? There are all sorts of permutations that have to be looked at, and it is looked at on a case-by-case basis. There is a contemplative process that takes place.”
TRICKY LAWS ARE NO EXCUSEDrug laws and prosecutions in general are complicated affairs, which makes your SF-86 and subsequent polygraph even more of a minefield. Steal a car from the BMW dealership, and you are probably going to be arrested for stealing a car. Prescription drug crimes have a lot more nuance. “In the federal system, it depends entirely on the specific facts of the situation, and how it’s charged,” says Jessica Carmichael, a federal criminal defense lawyer with Ayotte, Carmichael, Ellis, & Brock, a law firm in Virginia. “Giving prescription medication to your friend could create a number of criminal liabilities, ranging from misdemeanor to felony charges.” And the fact that you didn’t end up in a courtroom is no excuse to conveniently forget to mention your drug arrest on the clearance application. “If you are arrested and charged,” says Carmichael, “and that charge is dismissed by the prosecutor—in other words, he or she elected not to proceed with the prosecution—typically that charge is still going to show up on your record.” In any event, Carmichael says, almost any defense attorney will tell you to never make statements without a lawyer present. “Always be polite and respectful and at the first possible opportunity, ask to speak with an attorney.”
Andrew P. Bakaj, Managing Partner, Appeared on Washington, DC’s FOX 5 program “On the Hill” to Discuss Attorney General Barr, Congress, and the Mueller Report
May 6, 2019On Sunday, May 5, 2019, Managing Partner Andrew P. Bakaj appeared on Washington, DC’s FOX 5 program “On the Hill” to discuss the legal issues involving the Attorney General Barr, Congress, and the Mueller Report. To watch the segment, click here.
Andrew P. Bakaj, Managing Partner, Appeared on Washington, DC’s FOX 5 program “On the Hill” to Discuss the Mueller Report
April 30, 2019On Sunday, April 14, 2019, Managing Partner Andrew P. Bakaj appeared on Washington, DC’s FOX 5 program “On the Hill” to discuss the legal issues involving the Mueller Report. To watch the segment, click here.
Andrew P. Bakaj, Managing Partner, Appears on the Michael Smerconish Program to Discuss Security Clearances
March 28, 2019
Andrew P. Bakaj, Managing Partner, Interviewed by National Public Radio, YAHOO! News, and Think Progress Regarding Jared Kushner’s Security Clearance
March 28, 2019
I. Charles McCullough, Partner, Compass Rose Legal Group, Interviewed About Experience and Tenure as Intelligence Community Inspector General
January 31, 2019Chuck 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.
I. Charles McCullough, Partner with Compass Rose Legal Group, Interviewed by Epoch Times about the Clinton E-mail Investigation
January 31, 2019Chuck McCullough, Partner with Compass Rose Legal Group, was interviewed by the Epoch Times about the Clinton E-mail Investigation. To read the full article, click here.
Andrew P. Bakaj, Managing Partner, Appeared on Washington, DC’s FOX 5 program “On the Hill” to Discuss Supreme Court Nominee Brett Kavanaugh
October 2, 2018On Sunday, September 30, 2018, Managing Partner Andrew P. Bakaj appeared on Washington, DC’s FOX 5 program “On the Hill” to discuss the current legal issues involving Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.
I. Charles McCullough, Partner, Appeared on Washington, DC’s FOX 5 program “On the Hill”
August 27, 2018On Sunday, August 26, 2018, Firm partner Chuck McCullough appeared on Washington, DC’s FOX 5 program “On the Hill” to discuss the current legal issues facing the President.
Managing Partner Andrew Bakaj Among Former CIA Officials Signing Statement in Support of Former CIA Director John Brennan
August 21, 2018Managing Partner Andrew P. Bakaj is among the 170 former U.S. Government Officials who signed the August 20, 2017, statement in support for Former CIA Director John Brennan. To see media coverage in the Washington Post, click here.
I. Charles McCullough, Partner, Cited to in Washington Post Article Concerning Former CIA Director Brennan’s Security Clearance Matter
August 20, 2018Compass Rose Legal Group Partner I. Charles McCullough was cited in a Washington Post article about legal options former CIA Director John Brennan may have in response to the recent security clearance action by the President. To read the article, click here.
Managing Partner Andrew Bakaj Speaks with CNN About Former CIA Director John Brennan’s Security Clearance Situation
August 18, 2018“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.”
Former Intelligence Community Inspector General
I. Charles McCullough, III
Joins Compass Rose Legal Group as Partner
July 30, 2018
Managing Attorney Andrew Bakaj Quoted Extensively in “ThinkProgress” Article about the Migrant Children & Congressional Oversight
June 23, 2018
*** 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.”
Managing Attorney Andrew Bakaj to Teach DC Bar Continuing Legal Education Course on Handling Whistleblower Claims
May 29, 2018
Managing Attorney Andrew Bakaj Quoted Extensively in “Government Executive” and the “Cornell Daily Sun” Articles Concerning the Intelligence Community Whistleblower Protection Program
March 13, 2018Compass 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?”
Managing Attorney Andrew Bakaj Quoted in the Los Angeles Times About former White House Staffer Rob Porter and the Security Clearance Process
February 13, 2018Compass 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.
Managing Attorney Andrew Bakaj Quoted in a FOREIGN POLICY Magazine Article About Whistleblowing and the Intelligence Community Office of Inspector General
October 18, 2017Compass Rose Legal Group’s Managing Attorney Andrew Bakaj is quoted in a Foreign Policy article discussing whistleblowing and the Intelligence Community Office of Inspector General. Specifically, Andrew responded to reporting that the office is in “disarray .” Andrew is quoted as follows: For attorneys who represent clients with pending cases in front of the inspector general, the office’s disarray is particularly disturbing. Andrew Bakaj, who worked for several years at the CIA’s inspector general office and helped stand up the whistleblower programs at the Pentagon and in the intelligence community, says the destruction of the office is a matter of grave national security. “As an attorney regularly representing intelligence community officials, the [Intelligence Community Inspector General] has been a key office for both enabling my clients to lawfully disclose allegations of violations of law, rule, or regulation, as well as fostering protections by accepting allegations of whistleblower reprisal,” Bakaj, now a managing attorney at Compass Rose Legal Group, wrote in an email to FP. Bakaj argues that the disclosures he has filed on behalf of clients have “highlighted critical and systemic failures” in the intelligence community. “A strong [intelligence community inspector general] means those issues can get to the right people or Congressional Committees for action,” he wrote. “I have seen it work.”
Managing Attorney Andrew Bakaj Quoted in a NEWSWEEK Article About President Trump, Director Comey, and the Alleged “Trump Tapes.”
May 12, 2017
Compass Rose Legal Group’s Managing Attorney Andrew Bakaj is quoted in a Newsweek article discussing President Trump’s Tweet about the possible existence of “tapes” of their private conversations.
Specifically, Andrew responded to a question about the possibility of then-Director Comey recording private conversations with the President. Andrew is quoted saying:
“I’d find it hard to believe. Normally, such meetings are confidential in order to promote candid and honest conversations with the president,” said Andrew P. Bakaj, managing attorney of Compass Rose Legal Group, and former national security official who is a national security law expert. “That’s why you often hear executive branch officials decline to discuss personal conversations with the president.”
The full article can be accessed by clicking here.
Managing Attorney Andrew Bakaj Quoted in a LawNewz Article About Michael Flynn’s SF-86 and Ongoing Legal Situation
April 26, 2017
Compass Rose Legal Group’s Managing Attorney Andrew Bakaj is quoted in a LawNewz article discussing the ramifications of former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn’s SF-86. The SF-86 is the form that federal employees and contractors must complete in order to obtain a security clearance.
Andrew discusses the ramifications of Flynn’s failure to disclose his foreign contacts; foreign activities; and foreign business, professional activities, and foreign government contacts on his SF-86. He is quoted saying:
“Given that there are multiple ongoing investigations, perhaps even a criminal investigation, the false official statements can be used as leverage by a federal investigator and the Department of Justice to obtain a guilty plea to a lesser crime or, in the alternative, to compel cooperation in the event he’s not the ‘biggest fish’ in an investigation.”
The full article can be accessed by clicking here.
Letter to the Editor: Whistleblower Protections Are Getting Stronger
April 21, 2017
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.
CRLG Managing Attorney Andrew Bakaj and Colleague Mark Zaid Set Intelligence Community & PPD-19 Precedent
February 27, 2017On February 22, 2017, Andrew Bakaj and Mark Zaid, via the Law Office of Mark S. Zaid, P.C., obtained a decision with the Intelligence Community Inspector General (“ICIG”), expanding protection for Intelligence Community whistleblowers. This is a true milestone as the PPD-19 national security whistleblower reprisal investigation process is being refined after being established in 2012.
Whistleblower Reinstated in Job in Test Case for NSA and Intelligence Community
February 24, 2017
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.
Managing Attorney Andrew Bakaj and Colleague Mark Zaid Publish an Op-Ed in Just Security Regarding Protections for National Security Whistleblowers
February 23, 2017Today 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.
Managing Attorney Andrew Bakaj Quoted in an Article Involving a Former Inspector General for the Department of Defense
August 18, 2016Andrew Bakaj, the firm’s Managing Attorney, was quoted in an article concerning the firm’s client, a former senior official with the Department of Defense Office of Inspector General. The matters reported on are significant and go to the heart of independent oversight over the Executive Branch. To read the article in it’s entirety, please click here.
For Immediate Release
February 25, 2016
Andrew Bakaj Joins Mark S. Zaid, P.C. as Special Of CounselCompass Rose Legal Group is pleased to announce that Andrew Bakaj, the firm’s Managing Attorney, has been named as Special Of Counsel with the Law Office of Mark S. Zaid, PC. Mr. Zaid is a renowned national security attorney about whom the National Law Journal once wrote, “if Agent Mulder ever needed a lawyer, Zaid would be his man.” For over two decades, Mr. Zaid has fought to guarantee the rights of former, current, and prospective civilian federal employees, defense contractors, members of our active duty and reserve military, and journalists, particularly when they are threatened by the overshadowing spectre of national security. His representation has ranged from high-profile Members of Congress to covert CIA operations officers whose names will never be revealed, from politically controversial cases to stealth efforts to obtain historic records. Using a variety of tools—including the Executive, Judicial and Legislative branches, as well as the media—Mr. Zaid and his law firm have helped clients navigate the shadow world of national security, First Amendment, federal employment, and administrative law. Some of his cases are well-known, such as suing Libya for the 1988 terrorist bombing of Pan Am 103 which resulted in a $2.7 billion settlement, the largest of its kind against a foreign government for terrorist activities, and obtaining a court-ordered injunction in 2004, effectively shutting down the Department of Defense’s mandatory anthrax vaccination program for two years. Mr. Zaid has been quoted in print and online news reports as an expert in national security law FOIA law. He has appeared as a commentator on CNN, MSNBC, and FOX News. Mr. Zaid has been named as a 2016 Washington, D.C. “Super Lawyer” for his Administrative Law work, particularly in National Security. This is Mr. Zaid’s eighth consecutive year receiving recognition as a Super Lawyer, which includes only 5% of the lawyers in Washington, D.C. Furthermore, Mr. Zaid was named as a 2015 Top Lawyer in the field of National Security by Washingtonian Magazine. This is Mr. Zaid’s fourth consecutive recognition by the Magazine since 2009. For more information, please visit www.MarkZaid.com. ~Compass Rose Legal Group, PLLC.