Top US naval intelligence officer barred from access to classified naval intelligence

posted at 10:01 am on January 28, 2016 by Ed Morrissey

So … what has transpired over the last 800 days or so in the national-security arena? ISIS went from being the “jayvee team” to a terrorist quasi-state launching deadly attacks from the Sinai to the streets of Paris. Iran’s navy fired missiles at US Navy ships and captured ten American sailors. China built an island in the middle of the ocean and claimed the area as territorial waters. North Korea has … continued being North Korea.

What did two top officials of naval intelligence know about any of these crises, and others? Probably nothing at all other than what appeared in the papers, because the admiral in charge of naval intelligence has had all of his clearances suspended since November 2013. The Washington Post reported last night that one of Vice Admiral Ted Branch’s key aides had his clearance suspended at the same time:

For more than two years, the Navy’s intelligence chief has been stuck with a major handicap: He’s not allowed to know any secrets.

Vice Adm. Ted “Twig” Branch has been barred from reading, seeing or hearing classified information since November 2013, when the Navy learned from the Justice Department that his name had surfaced in a giant corruption investigation involving a foreign defense contractor and scores of Navy personnel.

Worried that Branch was on the verge of being indicted, Navy leaders suspended his access to classified materials. They did the same to one of his deputies, Rear Adm. Bruce F. Loveless, the Navy’s director of intelligence operations.

More than 800 days later, neither Branch nor Loveless has been charged. But neither has been cleared, either. Their access to classified information remains blocked.

Loveless got shifted out of that assignment eventually to what the Post’s Craig Whitlock describes as “a slightly less sensitive position,” but Branch remains in charge of naval intelligence. How, though, can Branch effectively run an intelligence service while not having clearance to access the intel it produces? Better yet — why has it taken more than two years for this decision to get seriously challenged?

For one thing, it turns out that the Justice Department never completed its corruption investigation. It has gone on for more than 800 days without a determination of whether Branch and Loveless committed criminal or liable acts. Investigators have not shared their findings with the military, for good reason, and the Navy assumed that it wouldn’t take long. Whitlock hears from one senior Navy official that “until these things resolve themselves, we’re kind of frozen.”

Actually, no, they’re not frozen at all. All due respect to Admiral Branch and the presumption of innocence, but the security of the US and the need for maximum effectiveness in naval intelligence takes precedence over the man’s career. Leadership in the Navy and in the White House should have taken action to move Branch and Loveless completely out of the way so that a new commander for naval intelligence could take the reins. That should have happened two years ago. The lack of action by the Obama administration to deal with this situation demonstrates an appalling lack of seriousness about national security at a time when threats are rising, not receding.

For that matter, the 800-plus days Justice has taken on the criminal case seems a little long, too. Corruption cases can become very complicated, but is it taking this long because it’s complicated, or is it being stalled?


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Comments

hotair releasing legions of squirrels this morning. wonder why?

everdiso on January 28, 2016 at 10:04 AM

For that matter, the 800-plus days Justice has taken on the criminal case seems a little long, too. Corruption cases can become very complicated, but is it taking this long because it’s complicated, or is it being stalled?

Imagine how long they could drag out “taking action” on the case against Hillary, assuming they ever took the case at all.

Bitter Clinger on January 28, 2016 at 10:08 AM

There really isn’t anything new in this story. The question is what the WaPo knows that they would publish the story at this time.

Happy Nomad on January 28, 2016 at 10:08 AM

DO NOT PANIC
Things are going according to plan.
Obama has a VISION of how the world should be and everything is on track to achieve that vision.
Just wait, it will be GLORIOUS.

thelastminstrel on January 28, 2016 at 10:09 AM

If he had his own Blackberry that would not have been a problem.

NeoKong on January 28, 2016 at 10:09 AM

Iran’s navy fired missiles at US Navy ships and captured ten American sailors
=======================

Yup, and MeanWhile:
——————-

Iran says it warned US warship to leave drill area
By AMIR VAHDAT
Jan. 27, 2016 9:55 AM EST
*************************

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran’s navy warned a U.S. warship to leave an area where Iran has been conducting a naval drill near the narrow Strait of Hormuz at the mouth of the Persian Gulf, the semi-official Fars news agency reported Wednesday. The U.S. Navy denied that its operations in the region were affected.
(More….)
==============

http://bigstory.ap.org/article/68831c8a9e8547768e6aff5b49411f61/iran-warns-us-warship-leave-naval-drill-area

canopfor on January 28, 2016 at 10:09 AM

hotair releasing legions of squirrels this morning. wonder why?

everdiso on January 28, 2016 at 10:04 AM

They’re trying to distract Americans from the issues of true national importance:

radio hosts claiming that blacks rape white women.

The Schaef on January 28, 2016 at 10:11 AM

More than 800 days later, neither Branch nor Loveless has been charged. But neither has been cleared, either. Their access to classified information remains blocked.

That’s a feature, not a bug. I despise this vile administration.

locomotivebreath1901 on January 28, 2016 at 10:12 AM

They should be reassigned to a backroom desk with all those incompetent and felonious NYC teachers. They’re ‘innocent’, too.

vnvet on January 28, 2016 at 10:12 AM

Top US naval intelligence officer barred from access to classified naval intelligence
====================

And Hopey barely goes to his Security Briefings,
yups, everything is pushing up daisys!!

canopfor on January 28, 2016 at 10:13 AM

hotair releasing legions of squirrels this morning. wonder why?

everdiso on January 28, 2016 at 10:04 AM

They’re trying to distract Americans from the issues of true national importance:

radio hosts claiming that blacks rape white women.

The Schaef on January 28, 2016 at 10:11 AM

Al Gore’s warning 10 years ago of a global warming apocalypse is so undeniable and urgent that we’ve got to do everything we can to draw attention away from it.

gwelf on January 28, 2016 at 10:14 AM

hotair releasing legions of squirrels this morning. wonder why?

everdiso on January 28, 2016 at 10:04 AM

To keep you busy. Look! There goes one now!

darwin on January 28, 2016 at 10:14 AM

hotair releasing legions of squirrels this morning. wonder why?

everdiso on January 28, 2016 at 10:04 AM

We’ve essentially had no head of intelligence in the Navy for two years and that’s a “squirrel”.

This attitude toward the military and the importance of classified information is how we ended up with a SoS who handled thousands of classified e-mails on bathroom server and unauthorized blackberries that may or may not be accounted for.

forest on January 28, 2016 at 10:15 AM

I guess he wasn’t on board with Obama’s new Navy.

LoganSix on January 28, 2016 at 10:15 AM

If it wasn’t for Drudge, HA wouldn’t have anything to post at all.

earlgrey on January 28, 2016 at 10:15 AM

He’s obviously guilty of something, otherwise Val Jar would have had him fired by now.

antipc on January 28, 2016 at 10:18 AM

So it’s confirmed. We’re running blind deaf, dumb and stupid. I know I’m shocked. Are any of you shocked?

Related: One of Hillary’s peeps lost her blackberry containing classified material, although I remember several reports claiming the State Department hadn’t issued any secure mobile device to the witch and crew…

Yet, the broomstick posse still hasn’t had their clearances revoked.

dogsoldier on January 28, 2016 at 10:18 AM

forest on January 28, 2016 at 10:15 AM

Once more everdunceo reveals deep inner stupid.

dogsoldier on January 28, 2016 at 10:19 AM

I guess he wasn’t on board with Obama’s new Navy.

LoganSix on January 28, 2016 at 10:15 AM

If that was the case, he’d have been cashiered two seconds after being suspended.

He’s still on the job, so he’s on board with Obama.

Rogue on January 28, 2016 at 10:19 AM

The lack of action by the Obama administration to deal with this situation demonstrates an appalling lack of seriousness about national security at a time when threats are rising, not receding.

Why assume any seriousness of America’s national security by this regime?

They want to kneecap our national security intelligence.

rbj on January 28, 2016 at 10:26 AM

Does he need an account on Hillbilly’s server? I know a Chinese guy that can set it up for him…

Floriduh Jim on January 28, 2016 at 10:26 AM

hotair releasing legions of squirrels this morning. wonder why?

everdiso on January 28, 2016 at 10:04 AM

Smug, mentally deficient little twit abusing “animal rights” in lame attempt to insult his betters. Many squirrels harmed in the making of this snide, vacuous non-comment.

RL on January 28, 2016 at 10:28 AM

hotair releasing legions of squirrels this morning. wonder why?

everdiso on January 28, 2016 at 10:04 AM

Hey genius, want to tell us the fairy tale about how the rich were all paying 90% income taxes in the 60’s and how Europe envies our Medicare?

itsspideyman on January 28, 2016 at 10:32 AM

Iran’s navy fired missiles at US Navy ships…

No they didn’t.

If Iran had fired missiles at US naval vessels, the Iranian navy would no longer exist..

They fired missiles in the vicinity of of US naval vessels.

Let’s keep it real here.

cozmo on January 28, 2016 at 10:32 AM

We’ve essentially had no head of intelligence in the Navy for two years and that’s a “squirrel”.

This attitude toward the military and the importance of classified information is how we ended up with a SoS who handled thousands of classified e-mails on bathroom server and unauthorized blackberries that may or may not be accounted for.

forest on January 28, 2016 at 10:15 AM

this is what you get for believing rightwing blogs.

Office of Naval Intelligence

everdiso on January 28, 2016 at 10:36 AM

hotair releasing legions of squirrels this morning. wonder why?

everdiso on January 28, 2016 at 10:04 AM

dumber than rocks corruption-supporters downplay administration corruption. wonder why?

dominigan on January 28, 2016 at 10:38 AM

this is what you get for believing rightwing blogs.

Office of Naval Intelligence

everdiso on January 28, 2016 at 10:36 AM

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ted_N._Branch

http://www.navy.mil/navydata/bios/navybio.asp?bioID=426

I don’t see anywhere that he’s been replaced by the person you cited.

Hank_Scorpio on January 28, 2016 at 10:46 AM

Curious though that a search on everdiso’s link for Ted Branch returns 2 pdf files that are no longer available.

Hank_Scorpio on January 28, 2016 at 10:47 AM

Why assume any seriousness of America’s national security by this regime?

They want to kneecap our national security intelligence.

rbj on January 28, 2016 at 10:26 AM

Yes, and, of course, there is the issue of precedent they belatedly realized after Petraeus. Too many close looks, prosecutions or other legal procedures against high profile violators might make more trouble for a certain not-so-presidential “candid-cankles-date”.

RL on January 28, 2016 at 10:48 AM

Scratch that:

http://www.navytimes.com/story/military/pentagon/2014/11/26/elizabeth-train-nomination-ted-branch-navy-intelligence-boss-relief-ray-mabus/19537939/

However, I don’t see that Branch has been removed either.

Hank_Scorpio on January 28, 2016 at 10:51 AM

I don’t see anywhere that he’s been replaced by the person you cited.

Hank_Scorpio on January 28, 2016 at 10:46 AM

who said replaced?

That link shows the Commander, Deputy Commander, Chief Staff Officer, and Command Master Chief of the Office or Naval Intelligence.

None of them are Ted Branch.

everdiso on January 28, 2016 at 10:52 AM

Soooo – an Admiral’s “name pops up” during an investigation and he loses his clearances.
hilLIARy dumps classified info in unclass and unprotected email for years and – nothing.
Like I’ve been saying only us peons – which apparently includes non-favored admirals – get punished for violating the law…….

dentarthurdent on January 28, 2016 at 10:54 AM

who said replaced?

That link shows the Commander, Deputy Commander, Chief Staff Officer, and Command Master Chief of the Office or Naval Intelligence.

None of them are Ted Branch.

everdiso on January 28, 2016 at 10:52 AM

Well in order to get that job you have to replace the person that had it before you, dumbass….

Hank_Scorpio on January 28, 2016 at 10:54 AM

Scratch that:

http://www.navytimes.com/story/military/pentagon/2014/11/26/elizabeth-train-nomination-ted-branch-navy-intelligence-boss-relief-ray-mabus/19537939/

However, I don’t see that Branch has been removed either.

Hank_Scorpio on January 28, 2016 at 10:51 AM

oh so it was a direct replacement. cool.

why are rightwing blogs always so intentionally misleading? does it bug you guys that they assume you are that stupid?

everdiso on January 28, 2016 at 10:56 AM

Well in order to get that job you have to replace the person that had it before you, dumbass….

Hank_Scorpio on January 28, 2016 at 10:54 AM

“Dumbass” is a perverted mini-version of the energizer bunny, relentlessly spinning out smug, brainless drivel which is either deceptive, meaningless, or without foundation – and/or often enough all of these in one convenient package…

RL on January 28, 2016 at 10:58 AM

Well in order to get that job you have to replace the person that had it before you, dumbass….

Hank_Scorpio on January 28, 2016 at 10:54 AM

Branch had the title of Director according to this article.

I looked up the command structure of the ONI, and it didn’t list that title amongst its leadership.

everdiso on January 28, 2016 at 10:58 AM

hotair releasing legions of squirrels this morning. wonder why?

lester on January 28, 2016 at 10:04 AM

Montreal Canadiens 2-7-1 in last 10 games. wonder why?

Del Dolemonte on January 28, 2016 at 11:05 AM

why are rightwing blogs always so intentionally misleading? does it bug you guys that they assume you are that stupid?

lester on January 28, 2016 at 10:56 AM

The Democrats lost the college graduate vote in 2012. Thanks for proving why they did.

Del Dolemonte on January 28, 2016 at 11:07 AM

My thoughts? Petraeus is kept quiet by being further threatened with persecution. Look at Navy Admiral Branch in charge of Navy Intel has no security clearance yet still has a job. Also Rear Adm Loveless has his security clearance suspended as well but still in his position in Navy Intel. General Ham was relieved of AFRICOM command and reinstated within 24 hours. How and why does all this happen to what appear to be successful leaders in the military? In Petraeus’s case it is clearly to keep his mouth shut and the administration has the goods on him to keep it that way. General Ham was relieved of command for ordering a rescue mission to Benghazi and when he refused to recall them he was relieved by his second in command and reinstated when he relented and stopped the rescue. For Branch and Loveless it is different. Both of them have expressed their willingness to disclose the secret training, supplying and arming of the CIA created ISIS but in this case the administration knows they have no monitored conversations, emails or embarrassing relationships with which to keep their mouths shut so, they suspend their security clearances and yet have no grounds for their removal. A sad state when the administration appears to be at war with its own military. . .

OldSarg on January 28, 2016 at 11:20 AM

A sad state when the administration appears to be at war with its own military. . .

OldSarg on January 28, 2016 at 11:20 AM

Well, why not – they’re already at war with the rest of country – and I’m sure they know that most military people will not side with them if they decide to go full dictatorship….

dentarthurdent on January 28, 2016 at 11:27 AM

Obtaining and maintaining a security clearance is (how shall I put this?) … nontrivial.
It costs many kilobuck$ to GET one initiated and processed to completion, either awarded or denied.

And knowing what DIA investigators must do … I remain astounded that King Putt was ACTUALLY given a clearance.
Or was he?
Perhaps that is WHY he doesn’t attend the WH Security Briefings?
He has to leave the room when they get to the TS/S/NOFORN/WINTEL portions.
Must frustrate Putt and ValJar immensely.

Missilengr on January 28, 2016 at 11:28 AM

oh so it was a direct replacement. cool.

why are rightwing blogs always so intentionally misleading? does it bug you guys that they assume you are that stupid?

everdiso on January 28, 2016 at 10:56 AM

Actually no, she was nominated, but I don’t see anywhere that she replaced an outgoing Branch.

Why are you so obtuse?

Hank_Scorpio on January 28, 2016 at 11:29 AM

I looked up the command structure of the ONI, and it didn’t list that title amongst its leadership.

everdiso on January 28, 2016 at 10:58 AM

Probably because she isn’t doing the same thing.

Hank_Scorpio on January 28, 2016 at 11:31 AM

A sad state when the administration appears to be at war with its own military. . .

OldSarg on January 28, 2016 at 11:20 AM

Not repeated enough is the wholesale purge of the officer corps this administration has been pursuing since his inauguration.

itsspideyman on January 28, 2016 at 11:32 AM

oh so it was a direct replacement. cool.

why are rightwing blogs always so intentionally misleading? does it bug you guys that they assume you are that stupid?

everdiso on January 28, 2016 at 10:56 AM

Don’t worry sunshine, we’d never think that about you.

We know you’re stupid. :)

itsspideyman on January 28, 2016 at 11:34 AM

He has to leave the room when they get to the TS/S/NOFORN/WINTEL portions.
Must frustrate Putt and ValJar immensely.

Missilengr on January 28, 2016 at 11:28 AM

Well, the Pres never gets told the really good stuff, like about Area 51, because – “2 words, plausible deniability”……

dentarthurdent on January 28, 2016 at 11:36 AM

this is what you get for believing rightwing blogs.

Office of Naval Intelligence

everdiso on January 28, 2016 at 10:36 AM

Make it one year. Branch lost his clearance in Nov 2013. The interim was appointed Nov 2014.

But either way, it’s not a squirrel, and the information came from WaPO, not a blog. Perhaps they should run a clarification:

For more than two years, the Navy’s intelligence chief has been stuck with a major handicap: He’s not allowed to know any secrets.

forest on January 28, 2016 at 11:38 AM

Probably because she isn’t doing the same thing.

Hank_Scorpio on January 28, 2016 at 11:31 AM

In which case, Director Branch was not in charge of naval intelligence, and his suspension did not leave us “with no head of intelligence” as per the post i replied to, which was parroting the clear implication that this article made through omission.

everdiso on January 28, 2016 at 12:12 PM

ISIS went from being the “jayvee team” to a terrorist quasi-state launching deadly attacks from the Sinai to the streets of Paris. Iran’s navy fired missiles at US Navy ships and captured ten American sailors.

ISIS never stopped being JV. Iran released our soldiers and boats less than a day after they blundered into Iran’s waters.

Tlaloc on January 28, 2016 at 12:23 PM

There’s so much smoke and mirrors reflecting and deflecting, we don’t know who’s on 1st, 2nd or 3rd in this greatest of all American past times.

Kissmygrits on January 28, 2016 at 12:30 PM

So an Admiral is being investigated for corruption and has his access revoked without being charged.

Hillary is being investigated by the FBI, more evidence appears daily she knowingly violated the law and kept classified material unsecured and impeded an investigation and……nothing happens?

goflyers on January 28, 2016 at 12:48 PM

Tlaloc on January 28, 2016 at 12:23 PM

Chip Tialoc: Remain Calm. All is well.

Techster64 on January 28, 2016 at 12:49 PM

ISIS never stopped being JV. Iran released our soldiers and boats less than a day after they blundered into Iran’s waters.

Tlaloc on January 28, 2016 at 12:23 PM

Thank God, otherwise they’d be killing civilians in France.

Oh wait…..

itsspideyman on January 28, 2016 at 1:21 PM

Never ending investigations are a stock and trade of this administration. It covers you for doing nothing and gives you an excuse for never saying anything about it.

KW64 on January 28, 2016 at 1:22 PM

If Iran had fired missiles at US naval vessels, the Iranian navy would no longer exist..

They fired missiles in the vicinity of of US naval vessels.

Let’s keep it real here.

cozmo on January 28, 2016 at 10:32 AM

With this administration? If Iran had fired missiles into and sunk one of our carriers, Obama would apologize to them for the obvious Islamophobia of the US Navy for getting our ship in the way of their missiles.

Trafalgar on January 28, 2016 at 1:31 PM

2022 – NEWS FLASH: FBI and DoJ announce that they have completed the investigation into the Hillary Clinton use of a private server, that no violation of law has been found, and the case is closed.

Another Drew on January 28, 2016 at 1:40 PM

is it taking this long because it’s complicated, or is it being stalled

STALLED………………..

GarandFan on January 28, 2016 at 1:44 PM

Thank God, otherwise they’d be killing civilians in France.

Oh wait…..

itsspideyman on January 28, 2016 at 1:21 PM

Launching a terrorist attack in an open free country is not that hard. Gangs do much the same thing everyday. They’re still inconsequential when it comes to geopolitics. Ditto ISIS.

Tlaloc on January 28, 2016 at 2:16 PM

Branch had the title of Director according to this article.

I looked up the command structure of the ONI, and it didn’t list that title amongst its leadership.

everdiso on January 28, 2016 at 10:58 AM

Did you *read* the article, though?

It’s a touchy subject for Navy brass, who have struggled to replace Branch. Twice in the past 14 months, they have taken steps to nominate a new intelligence chief — who must be confirmed by the Senate — but haven’t followed through. There’s no indication that a successor will be in place anytime soon.

It’s entirely possible the bios have been replaced pending confirmation.

It *is* possible the WaPo doesn’t know what they’re talking about, too. You faulting the HA authors for believing the WaPo? Gee, disco, that almost sounds conservative……

GWB on January 28, 2016 at 2:22 PM

Thank God, otherwise they’d be killing civilians in France.

Oh wait…..

itsspideyman on January 28, 2016 at 1:21 PM

Launching a terrorist attack in an open free country is not that hard. Gangs do much the same thing everyday. They’re still inconsequential when it comes to geopolitics. Ditto ISIS.

Tlaloc on January 28, 2016 at 2:16 PM

Really? I guess they can kill civilians with impunity.

itsspideyman on January 28, 2016 at 2:25 PM

It’s probably stalled because Hillary Clinton or the Clinton Foundation was involved the in the dealings too, and until the FBI can get the State Department to release the emails off Hillary’s email server…

Well you can see the problem…

LOL

s1im on January 28, 2016 at 2:26 PM

Tlaloc on January 28, 2016 at 2:16 PM

You should’ve put on your civildisonance hat in this thread, you might be a bit more believable.

Neitherleftorright on January 28, 2016 at 2:34 PM

why are rightwing blogs always so intentionally misleading? does it bug you guys that they assume you are that stupid?

everdiso on January 28, 2016 at 10:56 AM

everditzy! How far left does a newspaper have to be in order to be considered a “rightwing blog”?

Who knew?

WaPo is a “rightwing blog” according to everditzy.

Neitherleftorright on January 28, 2016 at 2:38 PM

Really? I guess they can kill civilians with impunity.

itsspideyman on January 28, 2016 at 2:25 PM

No, but they can kill a few and then die. Welcome to the vulnerability of open societies to terrorist attacks.

*shrug*

If it is too scary you can always move to North Korea.

Tlaloc on January 28, 2016 at 2:43 PM

You should’ve put on your civildisonance hat in this thread, you might be a bit more believable.

Neitherleftorright on January 28, 2016 at 2:34 PM

[email protected], I thought I was logged in as Bishop!

Tlaloc on January 28, 2016 at 2:44 PM

Probably because she isn’t doing the same thing.

Hank_Scorpio on January 28, 2016 at 11:31 AM

In which case, Director Branch was not in charge of naval intelligence, and his suspension did not leave us “with no head of intelligence” as per the post i replied to, which was parroting the clear implication that this article made through omission.

everdiso on January 28, 2016 at 12:12 PM

In which case, you’re wrong again, Squirrel Breath. The current “head” of Naval Intelligence is VAdm Branch, as the article states. He is in charge. RAdm Train is the Commander of the Office of Naval Intelligence. The duties are different and responsibilities. She is a subordinate of the Director. The Director of Naval Intelligence requires Senate confirmation and that’s most likely a primary reason why Branch is still there.

The article is correct. Just looking on websites and thinking you understand military structure doesn’t cut it.

Enigma on January 28, 2016 at 3:28 PM

The article is correct. Just looking on websites and thinking you understand military structure doesn’t cut it.

Enigma on January 28, 2016 at 3:28 PM

Admittedly, though, the Navy does a crappy job with its websites, especially in explaining things like DNI vs CC of ONI (or in sites for individual bases).

GWB on January 28, 2016 at 4:16 PM

Surely no one here actually believes he isn’t accessing classified information anyway, and has been for the entirety of his suspension???

Why else would he still be in that position? And who the hell would care if it was revealed? Good God, look who the democrats are running for president!!!

runawayyyy on January 28, 2016 at 4:38 PM

No, but they can kill a few and then die. Welcome to the vulnerability of open societies to terrorist attacks.

*shrug*

If it is too scary you can always move to North Korea.

Tlaloc on January 28, 2016 at 2:43 PM

That’s a great argument, sunshine.

Let’s remember it the next time we have a San Bernardino and our tyrant Obama demands we do something about guns, shall we?

*snicker*

itsspideyman on January 28, 2016 at 5:50 PM

He should have just checked into Hillary’s server.

BKennedy on January 29, 2016 at 8:34 AM