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Managing Attorney Andrew Bakaj Quoted Extensively in “ThinkProgress” Article about the Migrant Children & Congressional Oversight

June 23, 2018

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.

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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.”

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Managing Attorney Andrew Bakaj to Teach DC Bar Continuing Legal Education Course on Handling Whistleblower Claims

May 29, 2018

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 here. For those unable to attend in person, there will also be an on-demand webinar of this course.

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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Managing Attorney Andrew Bakaj Quoted Extensively in “Government Executive” and the “Cornell Daily Sun” Articles Concerning the Intelligence Community Whistleblower Protection Program

March 13, 2018

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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Managing Attorney Andrew Bakaj Quoted in the Los Angeles Times About former White House Staffer Rob Porter and the Security Clearance Process

February 13, 2018

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.

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Managing Attorney Andrew Bakaj Quoted in a FOREIGN POLICY Magazine Article About Whistleblowing and the Intelligence Community Office of Inspector General

October 18, 2017

Compass 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.”

The full article can be accessed by clicking here.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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CRLG Managing Attorney Andrew Bakaj and Colleague Mark Zaid Set Intelligence Community & PPD-19 Precedent

February 27, 2017

On 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.

CLICK HERE TO SEE THE PRESS RELEASE IN ITS ENTIRETY

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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.

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Managing Attorney Andrew Bakaj and Colleague Mark Zaid Publish an Op-Ed in Just Security Regarding Protections for National Security Whistleblowers

 February 23, 2017

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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Managing Attorney Andrew Bakaj Quoted in an Article Involving a Former Inspector General for the Department of Defense

 August 18, 2016

Andrew 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.

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For Immediate Release

February 25, 2016

Washington, DC

Andrew Bakaj Joins Mark S. Zaid, P.C. as Special Of Counsel

Compass 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.

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