Defense Department file photo

Pentagon Watchdog General Counsel Denies Anti-Semitism Charge

Henry Shelley says he wouldn’t have been allowed to keep his job if the allegations were true.

The general counsel of the Defense Department inspector general’s office is denying old charges of anti-Semitism lodged against him that were recently revived in a lawsuit.

Henry Shelley, who has been the watchdog’s general counsel since February 2010 but has worked for the office since 1991, was accused of speaking of a “Jewish conspiracy” while handling certain cases, according to an attorney’s letter sent last month to acting Inspector General Glenn Fine.

That case was brought by David Tenenbaum, a civilian who works for the Army in Warren, Mich. In the late 1990s he was the subject of an FBI probe into possible spying for Israel. The IG’s office later found that Tenenbaum suffered religious prejudice, but offered him no remedies other than keeping his job.

On Aug. 30, Shelley wrote to Government Executive to rebut charges in an Aug. 19 article about the allegations against him, saying, “I fully and unequivocally deny the assertions…. If, as you reported, I openly displayed anti-Semitism, would I have been allowed to keep my position at the OIG?” he asked. “How could I control or influence the Army’s decision to provide relief to Mr. Tenenbaum? Decisions on remedies were well out of my area of responsibility or influence.”

Fine defended Shelley a week later, when the accusations him came up during a hearing of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on the office’s overall treatment of whistleblowers.

“Mr. Shelley adamantly denies those allegations,” Fine told the lawmakers. “He came to me, and instead of sweeping this under the rug, I decided let’s get an outside independent investigation and take it where it leads and address it. I think it’s unfair to think he’s guilty before the investigation is done, but it’s also important to investigate it. We will await the outcome of investigation and take appropriate action whatever it finds.”

In a Sept. 12 statement to Government Executive, DoD IG spokeswoman Bridget Serchak said her office had “referred the allegations concerning General Counsel Henry Shelley to the Integrity Committee of the Council of Inspectors General for Integrity and Efficiency, consistent with the requirement for allegations made against designated IG staff members such as the DOD OIG General Counsel.”

The two people Shelley sees as behind the allegations against him are Dan Meyer, the former whistleblower ombudsman at the DOD IG, and John Crane, who spent 25 years in government before he resigned under pressure as an assistant Defense IG in 2013.

Shelley told Government Executive in his letter that he recused himself from the decisions that prompted Meyer to leave DOD for the intelligence community, as well as decisions about Crane’s resignation. “Despite my lack of involvement,” Shelley wrote, “both men have used the media to portray OIG personnel, including myself, in the most negative light possible.”

The law firm representing Tenenbaum in his quest for a remedy has yet to receive a reply from Glenn Fine, according to David Harold, a partner in Morganroth and Morganroth.