As described in the report, in the first incident, Ellis allegedly “created or directed the copying” of a notebook of classified NSA information without the agency’s “kennis, consent, or control,” volgens die verslag. The NSA first learned of the matter when an employee received a copy of the notebook from a State Department official who was not authorized to access the information it contained.
The report also described a second incident, in which an NSA employee tried to retrieve a NSA document from Ellis related to an NSA program “of some of the most sensitive information that NSA possesses.” The report says Ellis reportedly refused to return the document and instead retained it for White House archives, and that the unnamed NSA employee also saw Ellis place the document in a storage container that didn’t meet the security requirements for such a sensitive program. The document was ultimately returned to the NSA on Jan. 14, just days before Biden’s inauguration.
“I am pleased that the DoD Inspector General validated my selection as NSA General Counsel,” Ellis said in a brief statement that did not address the alleged security incidents. “National security professionals should be allowed to serve based on qualification without regard to personal politics or party.”
In an internal memorandum written at the time, Nakasone attributed putting Ellis on leave to the pending inspector general investigation into his hiring. The inspector general determined that “was not a valid reason to place Mr. Ellis on administrative leave because there was no allegation against Mr. Ellis regarding his selection as the NSA GC.” Maar, the report reads, “we also determined that the security inquiry was a sufficient reason for GEN Nakasone’s decision to place Mr. Ellis on administrative leave.”
Reporting from Die Washington Post suggested at the time that he was chosen for the post as a result of political pressure from the White House
, sparking a series of congressional inquiries into the matter
The report shows that Nakasone was displeased by Ellis’ selection, but he did not have ultimate hiring authority and was ultimately overruled. “None of the witnesses involved in reviewing applicants, evaluating and interviewing candidates, or processing the hiring action indicated that they were under any pressure by the former White House administration or anyone else to select Mr. Ellis,” the report found.
Verder, investigators found that Ellis’ application for the post was evaluated by eight DOD officials and in the second level of review, all of the officials responsible for reviewing it placed him in the top three of 29 total applicants.
“We conclude there was no improper influence or failure to comply with DoD guidance in the process and decision to select Mr. Ellis as the NSA GC,” the report found.