Adam Lovinger holds a doctorate in law and is a professor at Georgetown University, worked in the Office of Net Assessment as a strategist. His position within the specialized think tank required a top-level security clearance.
According to his Georgetown profile, Lovinger's responsibilities include “net assessments and competitive strategies developed for the Secretary of Defense on strategic competition in the Indian Ocean region, the Persian Gulf, and sub-Saharan Africa.”
Lovinger exposes corruption in Obama DOD
Lovinger described the Office of Net Assessment and how it has evolved into a slush fund for the politically well connected:
There was some very deliberate thinking that went into the placement of the office, that this had to be the Secretary of Defense's think-tank to advise him on difficult strategic challenges...The Office of Net Assessment produced no net assessments to inform our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and has produced no net assessment on Iran, for example. And so truly when you look at the the range of threats to the United States, the office has actually avoided all those. There hasn't been a single net assessment over the last decade from this office...What it's become is a slush fund for politically connected contractors. The contracting system in the office and the system is utterly broken...The contractors chosen are not chosen for their ability to contribute to net assessments, which is really the reason why they should be chosen. They're chosen because they're the friends of the leadership...The leadership was put in place by President Obama. It leans leftward.
Lovinger had grown increasingly concerned over the ONA's use of outside contractors, due in part to the “problem of cronyism” and a growing “revolving door policy” that resulted from ONA analysts leaving to join the better-paid ranks of private contractors. The Office of Net Assessment, came under attack by the Washington Times for wasting money on "research projects" in August 2016.In September 2016 Lovinger wrote the first in a series of emails to ONA's new director, James H. Baker (DOD), who had recently been appointed by Obama's Defense Secretary. From Lovinger's September email:
"On the issue of quality, more than once I have heard our contractor studies labeled ‘derivative,’ ‘college-level’ and based heavily on secondary sources. One of our contractor studies was literally cut and pasted from a World Bank report that I just happened to have read the week before reading the contractor study itself. Even the font was the same.”The contractor being referenced was Long Term Strategy Group (LTSG), whose president is Jacqueline Newmyer. Chelsea Clinton and Newmyer were at each other's weddings, and in 2011 Chelsea referred to Newmyer as her “best friend.” According to USAspending.gov, LTSG has received approximately $14 million in contracts since 2007. In a 2015 article by Bill Gertz of the Washington Free Beacon, it was reported that in 2009, Hillary Clinton had arranged meetings between Newmyer and Pentagon officials that involved contracting discussions.
Stefan HalperLovinger wrote a second email to James H. Baker (DOD) identifying another individual as a source of contractual concern. Lovinger wrote of
“the moral hazard associated with the Washington Headquarters Services contracting with Stefan Halper.”Halper
“was being used by Net Assessment to go out essentially and engage with foreign government officials. As a contractor that’s totally illegal.”Halper had been awarded $1.06 million in contracts through five payments beginning in 2012. Once in the White House Lovinger noted,
“There has never been an external review of these contractors’ [e.g. Halper] research products…It is now clear that over several decades the office [ONA] transferred millions of dollars to inexperienced and unqualified contractors.”
During the Trump transition Lovinger was invited by General Michael Flynn to serve as a Senior Director on the White House Security Council, along with Ezra Cohen-Watnick. On that same day, James H. Baker (DOD) filed four separate charges against Lovinger.
Two days before the new administration was to be sworn in Lovinger received a letter from Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter citing “Lovinger’s exceptional performance on collaborative net assessment with the Government of India.” In that same review, James H. Baker (DOD) disagreed, noting, “I do not endorse the characterization set forth in the employee input (that) Adam performed successfully.” Baker ordered an investigation of Lovinger.
On May 1, 2017 Lovinger was notified that his Top-Secret, Sensitive Compartmented Information (TS-SCI) clearance had been suspended. Lovinger was the second Trump official to lose his security clearance. The loss of a security clearance is a significant matter as they are requirements for many senior positions. He was to return to the Pentagon immediately.In June 2017 Lovinger filed an ethics complaint about James H. Baker (DOD) with the Pentagon's senior ethics official, charging that Lovinger's superiors misused the security clearance process to punish him. Lovinger's attorney leveled Whistleblower retaliation charges in a letter to DOD officials:
“A review of the ‘case file’ in this matter illuminates a picture of intentional whistleblower retaliation against Mr. Lovinger; personal and political vendettas against Lovinger by [James H.] Baker …”In April 2018 Lovinger received a memo from Washington Headquarters Services Director, Obama holdover Barbara Westgate, telling him that she had decided to suspend him from Pentagon duties without pay. Lovinger's attorney, Sean Bigley, penned an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal drawing attention to the case. Bigley stated that,
“Security clearances are being weaponized against the White House by hostile career bureaucrats, thwarting the president’s agenda by holding up or blocking appointees.
In Mr. Lovinger’s case, those weaponizing the security-clearance process include a senior official who remains on the job despite publicly disparaging President Trump as “unfit” to lead, a Pentagon attorney who instructed colleagues on the importance of concealing retaliatory motives behind their actions, and the Defense Department’s security adjudications chief, who persists in advancing false allegations."
Cleared of false charges
Lovinger was later exonerated. In that case, a DOD investigation found Lovinger did nothing wrong, yet a trial proceeded the following month anyway as the exculpatory material was withheld. The findings of the DOD investigation in fact were altered by removing the word "not" where it said he "did not" leak information to the media.