Pentagon IG Releases Report on Hiring and Administrative Leave of Michael Ellis

Bryce Klehm
Thursday, October 21, 2021, 10:44 AM

Published by The Lawfare Institute
in Cooperation With

On Oct. 21, the Department of Defense’s Office of the Inspector General released its report on the hiring process of Michael Ellis as the general counsel of the National Security Agency (NSA) and his subsequent placement on administrative leave. The report found that, regarding Ellis’s hiring as general counsel, there was “no improper influence or failure to comply with [Department of Defense] guidance in the process and decision to select Mr. Ellis as the NSA [general counsel].” Regarding his placement on administrative leave, George Barnes, deputy director of the NSA, informed Gen. Paul Nakasone, director of the NSA, of “two alleged security incidents involving Mr. Ellis.” Afterwards, Nakasone placed Ellis on administrative leave. 

One incident described in the report alleges that Ellis “created or directed the copying” of sensitive NSA notebooks “without NSA knowledge, consent, or control.” The second incident in the report involved an NSA employee who tried to retrieve a classified NSA document from Ellis, which Ellis refused to return and subsequently “retained … for White House Archives.”

The inspector general concluded that Nakasone’s actions with respect to placing Ellis on administrative leave were “appropriate and within his authority.” You can read the report here and below. 

Bryce Klehm is a first year law student at the University of Pennsylvania Law School. He is a former associate editor at Lawfare.

Subscribe to Lawfare