WASHINGTON (CN) – The Defense Intelligence Agency accused an intelligence officer with a decorated military past of “consorting with known Communist agents” in the early ’90s and fired him without due process, John Dullahan claims in Federal Court. And he says a simple typographical error contributed to his headaches.
Dullahan, an Irish immigrant who worked his way up the ranks in the U.S. Army to become a politico-military adviser for Eastern Europe to Gen. Colin Powell, says the DIA used three false polygraph tests to fire him, and used “national security” as a pretext.
Dullahan emigrated from Ireland to the United States in 1967 to enlist in the Army, he says. He was commissioned as an officer in 1970 and served in Vietnam as an artillery forward observer. He became a U.S. citizen in 1973.
He commanded a U.S. artillery unit attached to a German artillery battalion in 1979 and from 1985 to 1986 served in a U.S. military contingent assigned to the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization in Syria, Lebanon and Egypt. He says that “In the course of these duties, officers from seventeen countries – including the Soviet Union – routinely worked and socialized together, a practice understood and approved by military managers, including Dullahan’s former supervisor in Jerusalem.”
Dullahan claims he played an “important and distinguished role in U.S. military relations” with Eastern Europe after the fall of the Berlin Wall, which led to an adviser position to then-Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Colin Powell, from 1990 to 1992. Dullahan says Powell awarded him with a Defense Meritorious Service Medal for his work in U.S.-Eastern European military relations.
During this time, he says, the FBI began watching and photographing him while he met his foreign counterparts from Poland, Czechoslovakia and Hungary for visits and working lunches. He says the visits were to “facilitate planning official exchanges and support Department of Defense policy formulation.”
In 1990, he says, the FBI told him he was believed to be “consorting with known Communist agents,” but took no action against him until the events that led to his termination, which began in late 2008.
In 1997, Dullahan says, he returned to the DIA as a civilian employee, successfully passing a polygraph exam in the process, but in 2008 a different polygraph examiner accused him of meeting “Soviet handlers” while on official trips to Europe, including trips with Gen. Powell.
During his polygraph, he says the “FBI examiner alleged that [his] participation in Ranger, Airborne training, and combat duty (as well as his enjoyment of hang-gliding) demonstrated risk-taking behavior which made him more likely to seek contact with a foreign intelligence service.”
Dullahan says the examiner alleged that Dullahan had adopted Communist beliefs through mere association with his foreign counterparts. He says the examiner’s supervisor likewise “accused Dullahan of spying for the Soviets,” and informed him that “he had ‘failed’ and was ‘in big trouble’.”
Dullahan says he was subjected to a second unfair and inaccurate polygraph that prompted FBI agents to ask him about “an unspecified foreign intelligence service ‘offer'” referred to in one of Dullahan’s letters.
Dullahan claims that he had simply misspelled “officer,” so instead of writing that he had traveled to the home of a Soviet officer, the agents read, “I went to the home of the Soviet offer.”
He says a third polygraph, this time conducted by a DIA examiner, detected deception, but he says no other details were provided to explain the results.
In February 2009, Dullahan says, he was placed on administrative leave and his clearance was suspended without explanation, actions that Dullahan claims were “a result of the technical results of the polygraph examinations.”
In his termination and clearance revocation letter, Dullahan says the only reason cited was “national security” with no explanation. He says a letter from DIA counsel later explained that a rarely used summary dismissal rule had been invoked.
Dullahan says he was offered the option of resigning with a full pension, but chose to clear his name and appeal the decision.
He says he was then promptly terminated.
Dullahan is suing the DIA, the FBI, the Department of Defense and the Office and Director of National Intelligence for violations of the First and Fifth Amendments, the Administrative Procedures Act and unreasonable interpretation of internal regulations.
He seeks $201,000 in damages and a declaration that would clear his name.
He is represented by Mark Zaid.