Navy Admirals Branch and Loveless Implicated in Bribery Scandal, Placed on Leave
In what is rapidly becoming the worst scandal to mar the Navy since Tailhook, two U.S. admirals — including the Director of Naval Intelligence — are being investigated for possible "illegal and improper relations" with a Singapore-based defense contractor, Glenn Defense Marine Asia. Its CEO, Leonard Francis (a.k.a "Fat Leonard"), was arrested in September for gaining access to classified documents by bribing Navy officers with prostitutes and Lady Gaga tickets (every Naval officer's dream, apparently). While it's still unclear what role Vice Adm. Ted Branch and the director of Intelligence Operations, Rear Adm. Bruce Loveless, played in the scandal, they have nonetheless had their access to classified materials suspended and have been placed on temporary leave.
As it stands, neither Branch nor Loveless has been charged with any violation or crime, and both still have their ranks and security clearances. But, in spite of the fact that there's no allegation to suggest that they breached classified information — and whatever the alleged misconduct was, reportedly occurred before either one became admirals — they've had their classified access suspended, and are now being closely scrutinized.
"We do believe that other naval officers will likely be implicated in this scandal,” the Navy’s chief spokesman, Rear Adm. John F. Kirby, told the Washington Post.
The Naval Criminal Investigative Service began the multimillion dollar bribery investigation in 2010, and has thus far arrested two Navy commanders, Mark Vannak Khem Misiewicz and Jose Luiz Sanchez, as well as an NCIS agent, in relation to the case. The commanders were allegedly bribed by "Fat Leonard," who offered the officers cash, prostitutes, and, er, tickets to a performance of “The Lion King” in Japan, as well as a Lady Gaga concert in Thailand — all in return for classified information about the movement of Navy ships.
Francis was arrested only two months ago, after investigators managed to get him onto United States soil in an undercover sting operation. He, along with Sanchez, Misiewicz and the NCIS agent, are all charged with conspiring to commit bribery and, if convicted, could face up to five years in prison.
This much is clear: something is definitely off when two senior intelligence officials could get away with potentially compromising national security by willfully selling secrets for hookers and Gaga, while NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden gets his clemency plea rejected and faces life in prison for just telling the public what the NSA's been up to.