Top cyber Pentagon official overseeing defense contractor project placed on leave

Top cyber Pentagon official overseeing defense contractor project placed on leave
© Greg Nash

A top Pentagon official working on a cybersecurity project for defense contractors has been placed on leave following allegations that she disclosed classified information from a military intelligence agency without authorization.

Bloomberg first reported that Katie Arrington, chief information security officer for the Pentagon’s acquisition and sustainment office, was placed on leave in May. 

Arrington was told on May 11 that “her security clearance for access to classified information is being suspended” as “a result of a reported Unauthorized Disclosure of Classified Information and subsequent removal of access by the National Security Agency,” according to a memo from the Office of the Under Secretary of Acquisition and Sustainment obtained by the news organization.

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The memo continued, informing Arrington that “if this preliminary decision becomes final, you will not be eligible for access to classified information” or “assignments to duties that have been designated national security sensitive.”

Bloomberg noted, however, that the memo did not include any information regarding her alleged unauthorized disclosure of information.

Attorney Mark Zaid, who is representing Arrington, confirmed to The Hill that she has been placed on administrative leave. 

Zaid told The Hill that the “process has been dragging on for weeks with little movement," adding that the National Security Agency is “delaying providing the proper DoD security component with information explaining its concerns” for “no reason.”

“This is causing harm to Ms. Arrington, is denying her due process and is inexcusable,” he added.

The attorney contended to Bloomberg that the opening of an investigation into allegations against Arrington is a routine matter. 

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“When faced with such programmatic allegations DoD would routinely open an investigation as a matter of course. This is how the system works. Accepting an investigation, however, doesn’t prejudge the merits,” Zaid said.

“Absolutely no decisions have been reached regarding any aspect,” he added.

He said his client “has neither been fired nor had her security clearance revoked,” adding “We look forward to an opportunity to completely clear her name and her return to work.”

A Pentagon spokesperson confirmed to The Hill that Arrington is on leave, but would not discuss the details or timeline of the situation “out of respect for her privacy.”

Additionally, the spokesperson said the department does not comment on personnel issues.

Arrington has worked in her post at the Pentagon since early 2019, according to the AP.

Before that, she served in the South Carolina state House as a Republican after being elected in 2016.

In 2018, she beat then-Rep. Mark SanfordMark SanfordMark Sanford calls Graham 'a canary in the coalmine' on GOP's relationship with Trump Top cyber Pentagon official overseeing defense contractor project placed on leave Cheney set to be face of anti-Trump GOP MORE (S.C.) in the GOP primary, serving the former governor of the state his first-ever loss.

Arrington, however, ultimately lost in the general election to Democrat Joe CunninghamJoseph Cunningham'Blue wave' Democrats eye comebacks after losing reelection Top cyber Pentagon official overseeing defense contractor project placed on leave Joe Cunningham to enter race for South Carolina governor MORE, who took control of the district from Republicans for the first time in decades.

Updated: 5:45 p.m.