Senator: If Navy Intelligence Chiefs Can’t View Classified Info, Why Do They Have Jobs?

Jonah Bennett | Contributor

A member of the Senate Intelligence Committee slammed the Navy for maintaining two officers in intelligence positions who are not allowed to view classified intelligence materials, according to a report from Navy Times.

In a Thursday letter to the Navy, Democratic Sen. Mark Warner said the officers’ continued duty in these roles is especially inappropriate, because regular intelligence personnel frequently lose their positions upon the loss of security clearance.

Director of naval intelligence Vice Adm. Ted Branch and director of the Information Dominance office Rear Adm. Bruce Loveless had their security clearances suspended in November 2013 following an investigation into their involvement with the largest scandal in Navy history, known as Fat Leonard, Navy Times reports. In the Fat Leonard scandal, military officials traded highly confidential information in exchange for prostitutes and other gifts.

Some progress in the case has been made, though not in relation to either of the two officials. Instead, Navy Cmdr. Michael Misiewicz pled guilty to bribing a public official and may face up to 20 years in prison. He’s the eighth person to plead guilty.

The two oversee intelligence and cybersecurity operations in the Navy, but without access to classified information, it’s unclear of what use they are to those missions.

“I am concerned about the impact that the admirals’ continued presence in these roles while lacking a clearance might have on the Navy’s operational effectiveness,” Sen. Warner wrote in a Thursday letter to Navy Secretary Ray Mabus. “Moreover, I see this issue as inconsistent with the broader intelligence community practices that require rank-and-file intelligence officers to maintain security clearances to perform their jobs.”

Warner followed up with a series of questions for Mabus to answer, namely why it is that the Navy decided to keep the two senior leaders on even when their clearances were revoked. Warner also wants to know what the service is doing to resolve the problem. In fact, the service has moved to replace Branch with Rear Adm. Elizabeth Train, but her name has never actually been sent to the Senate.

Meanwhile, the Justice Department is still not finished looking into Branch’s background, as it’s possible he may have received a gift while in command of the carrier Nimitz. Branch served as commander of the carrier from 2004 to 2007.

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