The U.S. Navy has a three-star admiral in charge of all its intelligence-gathering and analysis efforts. But for a year, he has been barred by officials from viewing any secret intelligence, essentially making his job moot and leaving the service dead in the water when it comes to gathering critical information.
Vice Adm. Ted Branch, the director of naval intelligence, had his security clearance suspended in November 2013 after being investigated for possible misconduct. In the year since, no charges have been filed and there is no sense of when they might be, leaving the Navy in an untenable situation.
If classified information is being discussed at a meeting, the director of naval intelligence has to leave the room.
If Branch drops by a subordinate's office, the space must be sanitized of any secrets before he enters.
Branch can't attend morning intelligence briefs, or sit with the other services' intel chiefs when they meet with Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, said a naval intelligence source, who spoke on background because he was not authorized to speak to the press.
Branch and his deputy, Rear Adm. Bruce Loveless, have been subjected to a yearlong investigation into whether they took gifts from an accused fraudster known as "Fat Leonard" Glenn Francis, according to the Times.
For years, Francis' company was in charge of arranging port visits for Navy ships, and he plied many ships' captains and officers with goods and services from prostitutes to Lion King tickets to get lucrative (and sometimes) secret information on the ships' movements and port plans.
It's unclear why the Navy hasn't reassigned Branch and Loveless to another job while the investigation runs its course. In a statement to the Times, a spokeswoman for the service said only that "Vice Adm. Branch and Rear Adm. Loveless are performing their respective functions to the extent restrictions placed on their access to classified material permit," which is akin to saying a noseless bloodhound is doing just fine in his job as a tracker, as long as you don't count the parts that require sniffing.