Vice Adm. Ted Branch: Why Is The Navy’s Top Intelligence Chief Not Allowed To See Military Secrets?

Vice Adm. Ted Branch, the U.S. Navy’s top intelligence chief, has not been allowed to see any military secrets for years now, and he was also barred from reading, seeing, or hearing classified information, according to a report from the Washington Post. The report claims the reason for this was due to his name being linked to a multi-million dollar corruption scandal.

The security clearance for Branch was removed after Navy officials discovered that his name had been brought up in an ongoing Justice Department investigation, which gathered information about a corruption scheme in the military branch. As reported by RT News, the suspension came as the naval leadership was concerned that Vice Adm. Ted Branch, along with Rear Admiral Bruce F. Loveless, may be indicted. But an indictment never happened. However, Branch and Loveless were never cleared of wrongdoing, which is the reason why both still have not been granted access to any classified information.

The corruption investigation, which began in November, 2013, involves a foreign defense contractor and dozens of Navy personnel. Last year, three U.S. admirals were censured in a bribery scandal which claims the officials dined at “extravagant” banquets in Hong Kong, Malaysia, and Singapore, and accepted gifts from an Asian defense contractor. The incident was connected to a Singapore company that held more than $200 million in contracts to clean and supply ships from the Seventh Fleet.

Senior Navy leaders were concerned that Branch was somehow involved, so his access to classified materials was revoked. This meant that Branch was no longer allowed to meet with other senior U.S. intelligence leaders to discuss sensitive operations, or hear updates from his staff about secret missions or projects.

Although Branch retained his position as head of the Navy’s intelligence, Loveless — who was Branch’s deputy at the time — was transferred last month to a slightly less-sensitive position.

Regarding the matter, an unidentified top Navy official spoke to the Post, and gave the following statement.

“We had the understanding that this was going to resolve itself pretty quickly,” the official explained. “We have no actionable information on Admiral Branch, good, bad or otherwise. All we know is that he’s wrapped up in this somehow. Until these things resolve themselves, we’re kind of frozen,” the senior official added. “Is it optimum? No, it’s not optimum. But it’s where we are.”

The move to disallow Vice Adm. Ted Branch from seeing sensitive military information was met with criticism, with some suggesting that he should be removed from position. One such critic was Norman Polmar, a naval analyst and historian, and in an interview he said that he has “never heard of anything as asinine, bizarre or stupid in all my years.”

A source with intel regarding the Navy’s corruption investigation stated that the number of military officials involved in the scandal is staggering, and he said more than 100 Navy personnel and other people remain under investigation for potential criminal, financial or ethical violations.

“The sheer number of people involved here is extraordinary,” the unnamed source was quoted as saying.

According to a CNN report, three Navy officers pled guilty last year to federal charges in the corruption case involving Glenn Defense Marine Asia and its head, Malaysian national Leonard Glenn Francis.

The officers allegedly traded classified information in exchange for luxury travel and and hotel stays as well as prostitution services.

[Image via U.S. Navy/Getty Images]