NSA Finally Gets an Independent Inspector General

Patrick Semansky/AP

Robert Storch was confirmed by the Senate after more than a year and nominations from two presidents.

After a turbulent year that saw the former National Security Agency Inspector General ousted for allegedly retaliating against whistleblowers, the Senate has confirmed President Donald Trump’s pick to lead the oversight agency: Robert Storch.

Storch joins the NSA OIG as the first presidentially-appointed watchdog in the agency’s history. Prior inspectors general have been appointed by the director of the NSA, producing a potential conflict of interest for what is intended to be an independent office.

Storch was originally nominated to the post by then-President Barack Obama in November 2016, however, the Senate failed to vote before he left office. Trump re-upped his nomination in June, with the final confirmation and presidential signature coming on Dec. 22.

He will be taking over an office that, one year ago, saw its leader, George Ellard, removed for reprisal against an agency employee reaching out—the antithesis of an inspector general’s role. Storch will be expected to right the ship and bring new autonomy to the office.

"We look forward to welcoming Mr. Storch,” NSA Director Adm. Michael Rogers said after his confirmation. “His nomination and confirmation underline our commitment to lawfulness, transparency and the protection of legitimate whistleblowers.”

Storch has a track record of supporting whistleblowers, having served as chairman of the Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency Whistleblower Ombudsman Working Group, which established the Whistleblower Ombudsperson program.

Prior to his confirmation, Storch served as deputy inspector general at the Justice Department and a federal prosecutor.