Katie Arrington sues DOD and NSA over five-month suspension

Attorneys for the official say they have been unable to obtain further information from the NSA about allegations against her.
Katie Arrington speaks during a press briefing at the Pentagon, Washington, D.C., Jan. 31, 2020. (DoD photo by Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class James K. Lee)

Katie Arrington has filed a lawsuit against the Department of Defense and the National Security Agency in federal court.

Lawyers for the senior Department of Defense (DOD) official in court documents argued that she has been treated unfairly because of her close relationship with former U.S. President Donald Trump. They argued also that she has been targeted for spearheading cybersecurity programs at the Department of Defense which the National Security Agency (NSA) did not support.

The complaint was filed Tuesday at the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

“The decision was designed to interfere with the cyber security activities that plaintiff was running through DoD, which NSA did not support,” Arrington’s lawyers argued in court documents. “Nor did certain high-ranking DoD officials want the Plaintiff serving in a senior position within the Biden Administration due to her close previous ties with President Trump and they are using the NSA’s decision as a pretext to remove her.”


“It is rare that an individual holding a Senior Executive Service position such as held by the Plaintiff would be left dangling in this way.”

Arrington was suspended from her role as chief information security officer for acquisition and sustainment to the under secretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment at the start of May, after her security clearance for access to classified information was suspended.

In the court submission, Arrington’s lawyers said they were unable to obtain further information about NSA’s decision to revoke her security clearance – despite having the appropriate security clearance level to be informed of allegations against her.

“Generally, these types of investigations would be expedited for senior officials. Upon information and belief, the Defendants are purposefully delaying or failing to take action in this matter in order to compel the Plaintiff to resign,” said Arrington’s lawyer in court documents.

Arrington is a former one-term Republican state representative from South Carolina who ran an unsuccessful campaign for Congress in 2018. According to her Pentagon biography, she has more than 15 years of cyber experience “ through positions at Booz Allen Hamilton, Centuria Corporation, and Dispersive Networks.”


Attorney for Arrington Mark Zaid on Twitter said the official’s legal team would “aggressively pursue” the case.

NSA and the DOD declined to comment on pending litigation.

John Hewitt Jones

Written by John Hewitt Jones

John is the managing editor of FedScoop, and was previously a reporter at Institutional Investor in New York City. He has a master’s degree in social policy from the London School of Economics and his writing has appeared in The Scotsman and The Sunday Times of London newspapers.

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