NSA Watchdog Fired After Retaliating Against Whistleblower

© AP PhotoA sign stands outside the National Security Agency (NSA) campus in Fort Meade
A sign stands outside the National Security Agency (NSA) campus in Fort Meade - Sputnik International
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A top National Security Administration watchdog, who notoriously declared that whistleblower Edward Snowden should have gone directly to him with his concerns, has been fired for retaliating against another whistleblower.

Former NSA inspector general George Ellard was found by a high-level Intelligence Community panel to have retaliated in May against a whistleblower.

“The closely held but unclassified finding against Ellard is not public. It was reached by following new whistleblower protections set forth by President Obama in an executive order, Presidential Policy Directive 19. (A President Trump could, in theory, eliminate the order.) Following PPD-19 procedures, a first-ever External Review Panel (ERP) composed of three of the most experienced watchdogs in the US government was convened to examine the issue,” the Project on Government Oversight (POGO) reported. “The trio — IG’s of the Justice Department, Treasury, and CIA – overturned an earlier finding of the Department of Defense IG, which investigated Ellard but was unable to substantiate his alleged retaliation.”

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The findings against Ellard gave NSA Admiral Director Michael Rogers 90 days to take action by remedying the situation with Ellard’s victim, as well as imposing disciplinary actions against the former NSA inspector.

“The finding against Ellard is extraordinary and unprecedented,” Stephen Aftergood, director of the secrecy program at the Federation of American Scientists, told POGO. “This is the first real test drive for a new process of protecting intelligence whistleblowers. Until now, they’ve been at the mercy of their own agencies, and dependent on the whims of their superiors. This process is supposed to provide them security and a procedural foothold.”

“The case, which is still in progress, offers hopeful signs that the new framework may be working,” Aftergood added.

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The findings validate Snowden’s claims that he feared retaliation if he went through official channels to report his concerns about NSA overreach, although it was confirmed that he had expressed his worries about domestic spying programs to his supervisors in a series of emails.

In a 2014 panel discussion at Georgetown University, Ellard declared that “Snowden could have come to me.”

“We have surprising success in resolving the complaints that are brought to us,” Ellard said during the panel, adding, “Perhaps it’s the case that we could have shown, we could have explained to Mr. Snowden his misperceptions, his lack of understanding of what we do.”

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