December 23,2020

Grassley Presses USAID, Inspector General on Retaliation Allegations

Washington Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) is pressing the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and its respective watchdog agency about the suspension of a security clearance and eventual departure of Dr. Mark Moyar from his position at USAID based on still ambiguous claims of publishing classified information in a book he published in 2017. Moyar voluntarily resigned from his position in July 2019.
Grassley today wrote to USAID Acting Deputy Administrator John Barsa and Inspector General Ann Calveresi Barr seeking information about the circumstances surrounding Moyar’s security clearance suspension and the lack of a thorough review of allegations Moyar made of whistleblower reprisal.
"USAID must ensure that an individual’s security clearance cannot be weaponized by anyone, either a supervisor or a subordinate, in an attempt to either silence or retaliate against those disclosing waste, fraud, or abuse... Security clearances must not be used as a tool of reprisal in a potential whistleblower’s current role or to hinder future employment," Grassley wrote to Barsa.
Moyar, a former director at USAID, had his security clearance suspended after one or more officials at Special Operations Command (SOCOM) alleged that he had published classified information in a 2017 book. Because Moyar’s work required an active security clearance, USAID informed him that he would no longer be able to perform the duties of his post—leading to his voluntary resignation.
However, the Defense Department office charged with prepublication review of books never informed Moyar nor his publisher that his book allegedly contained classified information. This allegation only arose after Moyar had, on multiple occasions, reported several of his subordinates for wasteful, fraudulent, or abusive activities. In complaints submitted to both USAID OIG and DoD IG, Moyar alleged that “a number of his subordinates worked with members of SOCOM to remove” him for reporting their activities. One employee even told the inspector general’s office that they had overheard a group stated they were “going to get rid of Mark [Moyar],” and that, “people in the office wanted Moyar gone because he held them accountable and did not like it.”  This employee’s statements were left out of USAID OIG’s summary of its Report of Investigation.
Grassley concluded his letter to Inspector General Calvaresi Barr, saying, “Retaliation of any form must not be tolerated by any federal agency, especially when it involves an individual’s security clearance, which can have reverberating effects throughout that individual’s career. And Inspectors General must take particular care to ensure investigations of reprisal in such cases are thorough and complete.”
In his letters, Grassley asks about the policies governing security clearance suspensions at USAID, the number of suspensions at USAID, and the frequency of reinstatements of security clearances after suspension. He further presses the agency on the specifics of the process and the personnel involved in the handling of Moyar’s case. Grassley also presses the inspector general’s office on why so much of the apparently relevant information was left out of its Report of Investigation of Moyar’s case, along with information about the IG’s investigations involving security clearances over the last five years.
Full text of Grassley’s letter to USAID Acting Deputy Director Barsa, with appendices, can be found HERE.
Full text of Grassley’s letter to USAID Inspector General Calvaresi Barr, with appendices, can be found HERE.