Excerpt of 60 Minutes Interview of Adam Ciralsky - Part I
Jewish Press (NY) - February 11, 2000
Lesley Stahl:The spy catchers at the CIA work out of the Counterintelligence Center on the fourth floor of Agency Headquarters - the last place Adam Ciralsky, a lawyer with CIA, expected to be summoned.
Adam Ciralsky:The counterintelligence people, it's like the invasions of the body snatchers. They just come and get you one day.
Lesley Stahl:The day they came and got him, Ciralsky was on the fast track at the CIA's General Counsel's Office where he worked primarily on top secret cases involving terrorism. He was about to be detailed to the White House National Security Council when, in 1997, less than a, year after he'd been hired, counterintelligence knocked on his door, and told him he was under investigation. What exactly did they accuse you of?
Adam Ciralsky:Acts of terrorism against the U.S. Government - Computer hacker, espionage, foreign bank accounts, and on and on.
Lesley Stahl:The CIA suspended him without pay, stripped him of his top secret National Security clearance, and barred him from setting foot in the agency. The charge: To this day, he's still not sure, but he is sure it has something to do with the fact that he's Jewish. On his second day at the agency ...
Adam Ciralsky:I had to meet with a security official who proceeded to give me a sensitivity briefing about, they warned that my strong ethnic and religious ties to Israel would make me an attractive target to Israeli intelligence.
Lesley Stahl:They were warning you that, because you were Jewish, Israeli agents may try to recruit you?
Lesley Stahl:Recruit you to spy against the United States from within the CIA?
Adam Ciralsky:Right, That was the very clear implication.
Lesley Stahl:Do you believe that the CIA counter intelligence unit believes that strong ties to Israel by an American Jewish citizen is a security risk?
Adam Ciralsky:Absolutely. I know that not only based on the questioning that I was forced to endure, but based on their own documents.
Lesley Stahl:One document which Ciralsky obtained from his personnel file shows that his name was flagged for strong ties, study and travel to Israel." In another memo, an investigator wanted to know about his family's charitable donations to the United Jewish Appeal and to Israeli political and social causes. Then there's this: A CIA summary of Ciralsky's background.
Adam Ciralsky:It's essentially a Jewish resume that they created ...
Lesley Stahl:A Jewish resume. What does that mean?
Adam Ciralsky:Right, well it ignores every secular activity, and hones in on everything Jewish. They talk about my minor in college in Judaic studies, but they ignore my major in international affairs. They talk about my study of Hebrew but they ignore the fact that I studied Spanish. And they ignore travel to any place other than Israel. And what's so strange about it is, I've traveled to China, I've lived in China for a summer. They could have cared less whether I was associating with known communists, but they were incredibly concerned about who sold me a falafel sandwich.
Lesley Stahl:The memo is a window into their thinking, he says, and into a rarely discussed aspect of U.S/Israel relations - that despite being close allies, and despite the three billion dollars a year in U.S. aid to Israel, the two countries are very much involved in spying on each other. CIA Official Charges Israel With Recruiting American Religious Jews According to this high level CIA official ["Mr. X"], whose voice and identity we agreed to disguise, the Israelis tried to enlist religious Jews with access to top secret information.
Mr. X:The Israelis have a fairly large and coordinated and focused effort to find out national security information that would be helpful to them.
Lesley Stahl:What you're telling us, is that the Israeli government has a program of recruiting Americans who are religious Jews who go to Israel often to spy on the United States?
Mr. X:Yes, that's what we believe.
Lesley Stahl:Can you give us any sense of how successful the Israelis have been in recruiting.?
Mr. X:Yes. We believe that there have been numerous documented instances in which the Israelis have successfully recruited U.S. persons to spy for them.
Lesley Stahl:As a result, says the official, the Counterintelligence Center is on the lookout. Is it going to far to say that any religious Jew who has any kind of intelligence clearance is now suspect.
Mr. X:I suspect that's probably true. Ciralsky's legal Counsel: Charges 'Absurd' In an exclusive interview with The Jewish Press, Mr. Ciralsky's attorney, Neil Sher, stated: "What we see in Adam's case are memos written by ranking CIA officials directing how interrogations were going to be conducted and absurdly asserting that rich Jewish daddies must be supportive of Israel and there fore cannot be trusted.
"When I saw those documents I just couldn't believe my eyes." Mr. Sher also asserted that "[the CIA has] no evidence he did anything wrong and they acknowledged that he didn't do anything wrong. It is absurd and we are going to sue them."