Jewish Attorney to Sue CIA; Claims Rampant Anti-Semitism
April 13, 1999 - Matthew Dorf - Jewish Telegraphic Agency
A Jewish attorney on forced leave from the
CIA has decided to file a lawsuit which claims that rampant
anti-Semitism at the
spy agency has destroyed his career.
Armed with memos from top CIA brass and similar horror stories from
Jewish government offcials, Adam Ciralsky is suing for unspecied
He plans to file the lawsuit in federal court in Washington later this
according to his attorney, Neal Sher.
The allegations have touched a raw nerve with many current and former
federal employees who have faced routine CIA background investigations. Many believe that the 1987 conviction of Navy analyst Jonathan Pollard
spying for Israel places them under heightened suspicion. (NB. See NJJNews Editorial "The Chicken And The Egg". Jonathan Pollard was the victim, not the cause of CIA attitudes to the Jewish Community).
The CIA put the 27-year-old Ciralsky on leave with pay in October 1997,
after he failed a lie-detector test that centered around his support for
and past contacts with Israelis.
Internal CIA memos released by Sher show an agency bent on dismissing
Ciralsky and appear to question his loyalty to the United States based
his family's support for the United Jewish Appeal and Israel Bonds.
"They trot out all the old canards and put into question any Jew who
participate in the most lawful of activities, giving to charity," said
a former head of the Justice Department's Nazi-hunting unit and a past
executive director of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.
In an effort to settle the dispute out of court, the two sides engaged
settlement talks, according to Sher. As the talks heated up last month,
CIA revoked his pay, according to Sher.
The talks have now broken down altogether.
The CIA refuses to talk specifically about the case, citing federal
law that prevents them from discussing current employees without their
But after Sher launched a publicity blitz about the case last week, the
vehemently denied any charges of anti-Semitism.
Amplifying denials made last June when Ciralsky's charges were first
reported, three former CIA directors released a joint statement last
Friday condemning anti-Semitism and denying any anti-Jewish bias at the
Former director John Deutch went one step further, adding, "I am Jewish
during my entire experience with the CIA since I first came into
with it in 1975 throughout my tenure as [director] which concluded in
I never encountered any hint of anti-Semitism at any point."
After National Public Radio reported on the case last Friday, April
9, CIA Director George Tenet issued a statement to
"I will not tolerate anti-Semitism or any other form of discrimination
the agency," he said in the statement."Anti-Semitism is repugnant to me
and to all that our agency and our country stand for."
A CIA panel that included former CIA Director William Webster and
Adm. William Crowe established to investigate the Ciralsky allegations
the charges of anti-Semitism found no evidence to support the
But the internal CIA memos that Ciralsky is using to make his case paint
As the CIA was investigating Ciralsky, who was hired in December 1996,
one senior CIA of cial wrote, "From my experience with rich Jewish
friends from college, I would fully expect Adam's wealthy daddy to
support Israeli political/social causes."
Another memo lays out the strategy for questioning Ciralsky. "I think
it is important that he state openly he and his family's support for the
Party," it says."We are sophisticated enough and broad-minded enough to
understand the unique ties that bind American Jews to their brethren in
Israel," the memo says.
Sher said the Ciralsky family has no ties to Israeli politics and even
did, it would not be on the Likud side of the political spectrum.
Another memo that Sher believes is central to the case says that CIA
director Tenet had decided to get rid of Ciralsky even before the
him was completed.
"Tenet says this guy is outta here because of a lack of candor," said
Sept. 17, 1997 memo stamped "restricted handling, hand carry only, eyes
Other CIA memos single out Ciralsky's Jewish background, including his
proficiency in Hebrew, trips to Israel and a Judaic studies minor in
They fail to include his proficiency in Spanish, trips to China and
During one lie-detector test and interrogation, Ciralsky was asked why
did not disclose that an Israeli chaperoned a trip to the Jewish state
with the Milwaukee federation when he was 15 years old. He also was
asked about connection to his great-grandfather's first cousin, Chaim
Weizmann, Israel's first president. He was not, however, asked about a
previous internship at AIPAC.
"There's a dirty little secret within America's security apparatus. Jews
support Israel are held to a different standard," Sher said.
not the only Jew who has experienced anti-Semitism in government
positions, according to Sher.
At least two other Jewish employees of the CIA who require security
clearances have run into trouble with the agency. Others who do not work
at the CIA reportedly have been blocked from positions because the CIA,
which handles many background checks for government employees, would not
grant the necessary clearances.
One such person, an employee at the State Department, has failed to
his promotion to serve on the National Security Council, reportedly
he failed a lie detector test about his contacts with Israelis.
In addition, a non-Jewish CIA employee won a six- figure settlement
the CIA because she was suspended after a trip to Israel. The employee,
station chief, received approval to visit Israel on a trip she found in
a tour book.
While in Israel, she was asked if she would like to meet with a Mossad
cial. She refused and reported the conversation to the CIA.
Other former CIA of cials dispute the claims of anti-Jewish bias. They
out the record number of American Jews serving in high-level jobs in the Clinton administration that require security clearances and in many
deal directly with Israel.
One former foreign service officer wondered how one can claim rampant
anti-Semitism when Dennis Ross, the U.S. chief Middle East negotiator,
his deputy Aaron Miller, who have both lived in Israel, received
without trouble. In addition, President Clinton's national security
adviser, Sandy Berger,and State Department spokesman James Rubin both
maintain the highest-level clearances.
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