Outline of The Adam Ciralsky Story

[As Per Broadcast on NPR Morning Edition, April 9, 1999; Nina Totenberg Reporting, 55 minutes into broadcast. ]

by Yaakov Kornreich

Web Site Summary of the Report: NPR's Legal Affairs Correspondent Nina Totenberg reports on discrimination within CIA. At a time when the nation is focused on national security, a scandal is brewing in the intelligence community involving charges of systematic antiSemitism at the highest levels.

(Report duration: 8 min: 31 seconds)

Outline of the Ciralsky Case as per the Tottenberg Report:

Accusations of systematic anti-Semitism in the CIA at the highest levels. 3 years ago 24 year old Adam Ciralsky was the "Wunderkind" of the CIA

Now he is accused of dual loyalty and lack of candor over contacts with foreign nationals. Ciralsky is still technically employed by CIA, but on leave without pay. He has not been allowed to step foot in the agency for 18 months and is not allowed to talk publicly. A lawsuit on his behalf to be filed later this month accuses the CIA of "rank anti-Semitism" Ciralsky's lawyer is Neal Sher, the former US Justice Dept. Nazi hunter. He accuses the CIA of disparate treatment of Jews in processing security clearances.

Sher - "In the course of gathering data came across a pervasive and pernicious pattern of conduct, that can only be called blatant anti-Semitism and now its been documented."

Research into Ciralsky's case produced a number of other similar cases of anti-Semitic discrimination:

1. A Jewish State Department employee was blocked from National Security Council appointment. His lawyer, who was non-Jewish Reagan era defense official, says the CIA uses, "A clearly different screen to evaluate Jews."

2. FBI Counterintelligence agent won a 6-figure settlement and a lifetime annuity after she was suspended after she took a vacation trip to Israel. She says she found the vacation in travel book. She told superiors where she was going before she left. On the trip, she was asked if she wanted to meet a Mossad agent. She said "No, thank you," and reported the contact to her superiors when she got back. Nevertheless, she was put under suspicion for lacking in candor in contact with foreign nationals. Her lawyer said that her Jewishness was clearly a factor in the CIA's evaluation of her reliability. She was told we do not want to be another Jonathan Pollard case."

Ciralsky was first accused in a memo to the CIA's Chief of Middle East counterintelligence. The author of the memo raised suspicions that Ciralsky's "wealthy Jewish daddy" might have had contacts with Netanyahu or made contributions to Israeli right-wing groups possibly through the UJA. The writer of the memo based the suspicions on his "experiences from rich Jewish friends on college."

Sher responded - "If contributing to UJA or Israel Bonds is grounds for suspicious or to question the loyalty of Jewish Americans then most US Jews are under suspicion."

Ciralsky passed a CIA entry polygraph but his file was flagged for "strong ethnic ties." According to the NPR report, the Jewish paranoia in the CIA is reflected in the comments in Ciralsky's CIA personnel file. His file lists his proficiency in Hebrew but not Spanish, his trips to Israel but not China, his Judaic Studies minor in college but not his international affairs major.

Ciralsky didn't learn of the CIA suspicion against him until Aug, 1997. An August 19 polygraph test turned into seven hour interrogation in which he was accused of being a spy, a dupe or a terrorist for Israel. He was asked why didn't report that his college Hebrew teacher was an Israeli or that the tour chaperone on the trip to took to Israel in high school when he was 15 was an Israeli. He replied that he hadn't seen them for years, and was only supposed to report close or continuing contacts. He was also asked about the fact that his great grandfather's first cousin was Chaim Weizmann, even though both of them died long before he was ever born. Ciralsky's family has been in the US since 1850's and his great-great grandfather fought in the Civil War.

CIA Director George Tenet was kept informed of the special handling of Ciralsky's case by special memo. Internal CIA memos show that Ciralsky was subjected to a rigged polygraph test on Tenet's orders. One of the CIA memos said that, "Tenet says this guy is out of here," and indicates that the last CIA polygraph test was rigged for Ciralsky to fail it.

An independent polygraph test administered by a former polygraph instructor for the CIA shows Ciralsky to be totally clean of any dishonesty or security problems.

Sher asked prominent Jewish Americans to contact VP Al Gore's office and National Security Advisor Sandy Berger about the Ciralsky case and got no reply.

The CIA said the accusing information against Ciralsky came from other agency. But according to another security source outside CIA, interviewed by NPR, the CIA's evidence against Ciralsky is not considered credible even by the FBI. This source said that the security folks at the CIA are "out of control and the higher-ups in the agency are not willing to take them on."

The CIA once offered to settle the Ciralsky case but then the CIA reneged on a written deal for independent polygraph test of Ciralsky to clear his name.

A CIA spokesman said that "anti-Semitism is repugnant and reprehensible but Ciralsky not a victim of it in this case."

The man who recommended Ciralsky to the CIA said that his problem is that it is very hard to prove a negative. He said that he would not recommend other talented people to the CIA because it has an "internal cultural problem" (euphemism for anti-Semitism).

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