The investigation additionally discovered that the Pentagon’s choice of Ellis for the function was applicable and carried out with out political affect.

The two security incidents occurred after Ellis’ hiring within the fall of 2020, however earlier than he began work on January 19, in accordance to the report. NSA Director Gen. Paul Nakasone positioned him on administrative depart on January 20, the day President Joe Biden was inaugurated.

“I learned … that we had questions about the way that Mr. Ellis had handled our most sensitive intelligence that deals with a foreign actor when he was in the White House,” Nakasone advised investigators. “I have (a general counsel) that I’ve said is okay to be hired, now we have concerns about his clearance. We have concerns about merit. We have concerns about an ongoing inquiry by the (Pentagon inspector general). And so, my sense was … let’s get this all resolved… before he actually becomes the General Counsel for the National Security Agency.”

Because Ellis resigned from the NSA in April however stays a Naval reservist, the inspector common beneficial that the Pentagon’s prime intelligence coverage workplace examine his dealing with of labeled data.

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As described within the report, within the first incident, Ellis allegedly “created or directed the copying” of a pocket book of labeled NSA data with out the company’s “knowledge, consent, or control,” in accordance to the report. The NSA first discovered of the matter when an worker acquired a replica of the pocket book from a State Department official who was not approved to entry the data it contained.

The report additionally described a second incident, through which an NSA worker tried to retrieve a NSA doc from Ellis associated to an NSA program “of some of the most sensitive information that NSA possesses.” The report says Ellis reportedly refused to return the doc and as a substitute retained it for White House archives, and that the unnamed NSA worker additionally noticed Ellis place the doc in a storage container that did not meet the security necessities for such a delicate program. The doc was finally returned to the NSA on Jan. 14, simply days earlier than Biden’s inauguration.

“I am pleased that the DoD Inspector General validated my selection as NSA General Counsel,” Ellis stated in a short assertion that didn’t deal with the alleged security incidents. “National security professionals should be allowed to serve based on qualification without regard to personal politics or party.”

In an inner memorandum written on the time, Nakasone attributed placing Ellis on depart to the pending inspector common investigation into his hiring. The inspector common decided that “was not a valid reason to place Mr. Ellis on administrative leave because there was no allegation against Mr. Ellis regarding his selection as the NSA GC.” But, the report reads, “we also determined that the security inquiry was a sufficient reason for GEN Nakasone’s decision to place Mr. Ellis on administrative leave.”

Reporting from The Washington Post urged on the time that he was chosen for the publish because of political stress from the White House, sparking a sequence of congressional inquiries into the matter.

The report exhibits that Nakasone was displeased by Ellis’ choice, however he didn’t have final hiring authority and was finally overruled. “None of the witnesses involved in reviewing applicants, evaluating and interviewing candidates, or processing the hiring action indicated that they were under any pressure by the former White House administration or anyone else to select Mr. Ellis,” the report discovered.

Further, investigators discovered that Ellis’ software for the publish was evaluated by eight DOD officers and within the second degree of evaluate, all the officers chargeable for reviewing it positioned him within the prime three of 29 whole candidates.

“We conclude there was no improper influence or failure to comply with DoD guidance in the process and decision to select Mr. Ellis as the NSA GC,” the report discovered.



Sources