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It’s almost not possible to overstate how large and complicated the United States Department of Defense is. It is the largest U.S. government agency, serves as the country’s biggest employer, and wields an annual budget of $738 billion. The task of detecting and deterring malfeasance within this labyrinth falls to the Pentagon’s Office of the Inspector General. Each year, the watchdog’s hotline receives some 14,000 complaints from Department of Defense employees, many of whom make grave allegations of criminality, fraud, or waste of government resources.
When credible allegations were made against senior officials, they landed on the desk of Steven Luke, one of around 30 investigators tasked with handling probes into some of the highest-ranking officials in the Pentagon. Having worked in the office for over a decade, Luke was well acquainted with the Washington swamp. He enjoyed his job, and he was good at it. But in January 2018, Luke was handed a case that caused him to question the integrity of his office and the motives of his supervisors, and led him to blow the whistle on the Pentagon’s own watchdog office.