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Lankford, Colleagues Raise Alarm over Energy Department Counterintelligence Report and Suspicious Reassignment of the Director

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK – Senator James Lankford (R-OK) joined Senator Jim Risch (R-ID) along with several Republican Senators in raising alarm bells with US Department of Energy (DoE) Secretary Granholm regarding a troubling report on the state of the counterintelligence enterprise at the department, and questioning whether this report played a role in the reassignment of Steven Black. Black was reassigned to a new position in the department after leading the Office of Intelligence and Counterintelligence (DOE-IN) for 11 years. The Senators request that, until questions about counterintelligence at the Department are answered, Black not be assigned to any Office in the Department of Energy with a national security mission.  

“We write seeking answers to urgent questions raised by a recent personnel decision within the Department of Energy,” wrote the Senators. “On Tuesday, October 17, we received word that Steven Black, the long-serving Director of the Office of Intelligence and Counterintelligence (DOE-IN) at the Department of Energy, was suddenly and without explanation reassigned. . . We are also aware that a study conducted by an outside contractor, which the Department has had in its possession since April, outlines disturbing findings as to the state of counterintelligence across the Department, to include the national laboratories.”

“If Director Black presided over DOE-IN over a period of time in which there were serious shortcomings with regard to counterintelligence, he should not be reassigned to any office within the Department that has a national security mission.  We request that you refrain from reassigning Director Black to any Department office until we have received answers to these questions,” continued the Senators.

Senators John Barrasso (R-WY), Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, Marco Rubio (R-FL), Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Steve Daines (R-MT), Susan Collins (R-ME), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Tom Cotton (R-AR), Jerry Moran (R-KS), and John Cornyn (R-TX) joined Lankford and Risch in sending the letter.

You can read the full letter here or below. 

Dear Secretary Granholm, 

We write seeking answers to urgent questions raised by a recent personnel decision within the Department of Energy (Department). 

On Tuesday, October 17, we received word that Steven Black, the long-serving Director of the Office of Intelligence and Counterintelligence (DOE-IN) at the Department of Energy, was suddenly and without explanation reassigned. We are told he will be taking on a new role as “Senior Advisor” in the Department. We are also aware that a study conducted by an outside contractor, which the Department has had in its possession since April, outlines disturbing findings as to the state of counterintelligence across the Department, to include the national laboratories. 

As you are well aware, the Department of Energy and the research it supports, especially at the national laboratories, is among the most important national security work undertaken by this country. The findings in the contractor study, which Congress requested, are deeply concerning. If Director Black presided over DOE-IN over a period of time in which there were serious shortcomings with regard to counterintelligence, he should not be reassigned to any office within the Department that has a national security mission. We request that you refrain from reassigning Director Black to any Department office until we have received answers to these questions. 

We request immediate answers to the following questions: 

  1. Why was Director Black reassigned from the role he has held for 11 years? Did the findings outlined in the contractor study factor into your decision to reassign him? 
  2. In which part of the Department will he serve as “Senior Advisor”? 
  3. When were you made aware of the contractor study that was transmitted to DOE-IN on 

April 24? Do you agree with the findings in the study? 

Sincerely, 

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