CIA Accused of Systematic Anti-Semitism

Yated Ne'eman - April 16, 1999 - D.D. Levitin

A lawyer for Adam Ciralsky, 27, a Jew from Milwaukee who was hired as an attorney for the Central Intelligence Agency, has announced plans to file a lawsuit charging the CIA with anti-Semitism. Ciralsky's attorney, onetime U.S. Justice Department Nazi hunter Neal Sher, says that in investigating the Ciralsky case, he came across similar case leading him to believe that the CIA suffers from "a pervasive and pernicious pattern of conduct, that can only be called blatant anti-Semitism and now its been documented." Ciralsky was hired by the CIA's office of general counsel in December 1996 and was placed on leave from his job at the CIA on Oct. 20, 1997, because, according to Sher, high CIA officials, including Director George Tenet conspired to incriminate and oust him for being a security risk.

The anti-Semitism charges stem in part from an internal CIA document in which an investigating CIA agent wrote of Ciralsky, "From my experience with rich Jewish friends from college I would fully expect Adam's wealthy Daddy to support Israeli political/social causes." The document went on to suggest that Ciralsky's family made improper contributions to right wing Israeli politicians such as Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu through donations to UJA. To that, an outraged Sher said, "If contributing to UJA or Israel Bonds is grounds for suspicious or to question the loyalty of Jewish Americans then most U.S. Jews are under suspicion."

The CIA accuses Ciralsky of not fully disclosing his ties with Israel while undergoing a polygraph test. But Ciralsky's lawyer claims that Ciralsky was singled out from the beginning, because of his Jewish background, for especially harsh treatment. According to a report on National Public Radio which broke the story last Friday, Ciralsky's file was flagged initially for "strong ethnic ties," and reflects the anti-Jewish paranoia in the CIA. For example, the file lists Ciralsky's 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 is still technically employed by the CIA, but on leave without pay. He has not been allowed to step foot in the agency for 18 months but because he is still an employee, he is not allowed to talk about his situation publicly.

Sher says that CIA has taken an unusually tough stance against all pro-Israeli Jews in the agency since the U.S. navy analyst Jonathan Pollard was convicted of using his position to spy for Israel. The CIA has also continued its vendetta against Pollard ever since, culminating with Director Tenet's threat at the Wye conference last year to quit if Pollard was released as part of the deal that President Clinton himself had negotiated with Arafat and Netanyahu.

The other cases of anti Semitism uncovered in the CIA include a Jewish State Department employee who was blocked from a National Security Council appointment because he failed a CIA security investigation. His lawyer, who is a non-Jewish Reagan-era Defense Department official, says that the CIA uses, "A clearly different screen to evaluate Jews."

Another example is an FBI counterintelligence agent who won a 6-figure settlement and a lifetime annuity after she was suspended following a vacation trip she took to Israel. She says that she found the vacation offer in a travel book. She told her 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 didn't learn of the CIA's suspicion against him until Aug, 1997. An August 19th, a polygraph test turned into seven and one-half 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 a trip he took to Israel in high school when he was 15 was an Israeli.

Ciralsky replied that he hadn't seen them for years, and that according to the CIA's own guideline he 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 U.S. since 1850's and his great-great grandfather fought in the Civil War.

According to another CIA memo, the agency's Director, George Tenet was kept informed of the special handling of Ciralsky's case, at his request, by special memo. Another CIA memo shows that Ciralsky was, at the end, subjected to a polygraph test that was rigged for him to fail on Tenet's orders.

An independent polygraph test subsequently administered by a former polygraph instructor for the CIA shows Ciralsky to be totally clean of any dishonesty or security problems. The CIA once offered to settle the Ciralsky's case out of court, but then, according to Sher, the CIA reneged on a written deal for another independently administered polygraph test of Ciralsky to clear his name.

Sher wrote Attorney General Janet Reno on March 22 asking for an investigation of CIA officials for allegedly sharing information from Ciralsky's security and counterintelligence files with other CIA employees not involved with the case. He has also appealed on behalf of Ciralsky to Vice President Al Gore's office and White House National Security Advisor Sandy Berger, but has gotten no response.

CIA Director George Tenet sent a message to agency employees after the report on the Ciralsky case aired on National Public Radio. Tenet called anti-Semitism "repugnant" and said he would not tolerate it or any discrimination at the CIA. "I can tell you that we have taken a number of internal steps to investigate the allegations. Let me assure you that we have found nothing whatsoever to substantiate the charges of anti-Semitism in this case," Tenet said.

Under pressure, the CIA appealed to three of its former directors, John Deutch, Robert Gates and William Webster, who issued a joint statement saying that Ciralsky's allegations went counter to their experience at the CIA. Deutch added a personal statement saying that, "I am Jewish and during my entire experience with the CIA never encountered any hint of anti-Semitism at any point."

The CIA also said that the original accusing information against Ciralsky came from another agency. But according to a security source outside the CIA, who was 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."

NPR also interviewed the man who originally recommended Ciralsky to the CIA. He said that Ciralsky's problem is that it is very hard to prove a negative, but he quickly added that he would not recommend any other talented people to the CIA because it has an "internal cultural problem" (a euphemism for anti-Semitism).

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