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Confirmation delays for the candidate to serve as the top CIA watchdog

WASHINGTON – Two former CIA employees accusing the Trump administration’s choice for CIA chief watchdog of less than candid when he told the Congress that he did not know about an active whistleblower complaints against him.

The members of the Senate Intelligence Committee asked Christopher Sharpley, the current acting inspector-general, who is in line for the permanent job, about the complaints that he and other managers participated in retaliation against CIA employees who warned parliamentary committees and other agencies about alleged misconduct.

“I am not aware of any open investigations on me, the details of any complaints about me,” Sharpley testified at the confirmation hearing last month.

He said that he may not know it, because there is a process of providing confidentiality to anyone who wants to file a complaint against the government, which are often individually named in the cases against the management.

“No action or conclusions of violations have been made about my career, or something I’ve done,” Sharpley added.

The commission is still busy with Sharpley’s nomination.

Sens. Chuck Grassley, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Sen. Ron Wyden say that they find it difficult to believe Sharpley did not know about the complaints, when he testified. She said one of the open cases is being investigated by the Department of Homeland Security’s internal watchdog.

They say that the DHS inspector general’s office, who is looking for the CIA to prevent a conflict of interest, asked Sharpley in January for documents. The agency was asked to an interview Sharpley on Oct. 12. Sharpley’s office said that he won’t be available until Oct. 17 — the day that he testified to senators.

“How is it possible that he could was not aware of an open investigation against him and testified?” Grassley, R-Iowa, and Wyden, D-Ore., asked in a letter that they wrote to the Senate intelligence committee leaders.

GOP Sen. Richard Burr of North Carolina, the Senate Intelligence Committee chairman, had planned a vote on Sharpley’s nomination last month. It is postponed, while the committee hold the discussions about the whistleblower cases, according to a person familiar with the matter. The person is not allowed to discuss the issue and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.

CIA spokesman Ryan Trapani defended Sharpley’s five-year tenure at the agency as deputy and then acting inspector-general. He said Sharpley has 36 years of investigative and law enforcement experience, and two inspector general offices of scratches within the federal government.

“If there are any complaints or investigations in relation to Mr Sharpley is not something we can confirm or comment on,” Trapani said. “What we can say is that Mr. Sharpley has a sterling five-year career at the CIA and there is never any findings of violations, or misconduct of a kind by Mr Sharpley during his tenure here.”

Documents provided to the AP by lawyers that two former CIA employees challenge Sharpley testimony.

They point to the divisions over multiple years within the CIA’s inspector general’s office, an independent unit was set up in 1989 to oversee the spy agency. It is charged with the stopping of waste, fraud, and mismanagement and promote accountability through audits, inspections, investigations and reviews of CIA programs and activities — overt and covert.

John Tye, executive director of the Whistleblower Support, that is, that two of the complainants alleged retaliation by Sharpley and other senior managers, said discord in the office stemmed from a case several years ago involving kickbacks from contractors.

The Ministry of Justice has announced that in 2013, three CIA contractors have agreed to pay the United States $3 million to settle allegations that they provided meals, entertainment, gifts and tickets to sporting events, to CIA employees and outside consultants help business steered their way.

The criminal case fell apart after intelligence staff have discovered that the evidence in the case was fabricated and the testimony of witnesses has been amended. These employees are in the secret went around Sharpley, and then-CIA Inspector General David Buckley, and contacted the U. S. attorney’s office. Tye said that after learning about the forged evidence, a guilty plea in the case, which has already been accepted by a judge, and was destroyed at the request of the prosecutor.

Then, the leaders of the CIA inspector office asked auditors in the entire city to the Federal Housing Finance Agency to look at their house. It is unclear why that agency — a place where Sharpley previously worked — was chosen to handle the matter. The results of this research have not yet been revealed.

In an Oct. 30 letter to the Senate Intelligence Committee, Tye told me that in the FHFA probe, Sharpley wrong, “interrupted witness interviews, walking in the specially designated meeting rooms to learn the names of the whistleblowers within his staff,” which reported evidence of manipulation outside of the supervisory authorities. Tye said that no one within the CIA inspector general’s office was prosecuted or disciplined evidence for manipulation.

“Sharpley identified some, but not all, of the whistle-blowers,” Tye said. He said retaliation involved force administrative leave, security clearance decisions, and other harassment.

A complainant is Jonathan Kaplan, 59, a former special agent and investigator in the CIA’s inspector general’s office that during 33 years at the agency. He claims that before he went to talk with the staff of the House Intelligence Committee about the contactors case, he called a computer in his office to refresh his memory on the details.

He Later received an official letter of warning for the search of the computer system. That ultimately prevented him from renewing his security clearance, effectively ending his government career. He was in contact with a inspector-general supervision of all 17 U.S. intelligence agencies and received a letter earlier this year to recognise that the office was the handling of the case.

A second complainant is Andrew Bakaj, 35, who worked for the CIA inspector general’s office as a special agent from 2012 to 2015. He was instrumental in the development of agency regulations, whistleblower reprisal investigations.

If some of his colleagues came to him to assert misconduct in the office, he referred them to the inspector-general of Kaplan went. It was an office Bakaj and his colleagues had been told not to work together.

He, too, looked on the computer at the office, on an issue he was questioned about and had worked as part of an investigation by the inspector general who oversees all U.S. intelligence agencies. Two weeks later, superiors called him and put him on paid leave that lasted 15 months. He resigned.

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