Accessibility/Mobile Features
Skip Navigation
Skip to Content
Editorial News
Classified Sites

The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

CIA disciplines 15 officers for harassment; agency says it has no tolerance for such behaviour

FILE - In this 2005 file photo, a workman slides a dustmop over the floor at the Central Intelligence Agency headquarters in Langley, Va., near Washington. Fifteen CIA employees were found to have committed sexual, racial or other types of harassment last year, including a supervisor who was removed from the job after engaging in

Enlarge Image

FILE - In this 2005 file photo, a workman slides a dustmop over the floor at the Central Intelligence Agency headquarters in Langley, Va., near Washington. Fifteen CIA employees were found to have committed sexual, racial or other types of harassment last year, including a supervisor who was removed from the job after engaging in "bullying, hostile behavior," and an operative who was sent home from an overseas post for inappropriately touching female colleagues, according to an internal CIA document obtained by The Associated Press. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

WASHINGTON - When Ilana Sara Greenstein was a CIA case officer working at headquarters a decade ago, she said, a married senior manager who was responsible for her promotions made sexual advances toward her.

She spurned him but didn't dare report the incident, she said in an interview, for fear it would end her career. She went on to a stint in Iraq — where a male officer routinely snapped the bra strap of one of her female colleagues, she said — before she left the agency in 2008. Back then, she said, there was no mention of sexual or other harassment in the training she got to be a covert operative.

These days, the CIA says it has a zero tolerance policy toward workplace harassment. And an agency document obtained by The Associated Press said 15 CIA employees were disciplined for committing sexual, racial or other types of harassment last year. That included a supervisor who was removed from the job after engaging in "bullying, hostile behaviour," and an operative who was sent home from an overseas post for inappropriately touching female colleagues, said the document, an internal message to the agency's workforce.

The examples cited in the message, sent several weeks ago in an email by the director of the agency's Office of Equal Employment Opportunity, were meant to show how the CIA is enforcing its strict policy.

But the announcement also shed light on the spy agency's struggles to move past its free-wheeling workplace culture, especially in the National Clandestine Service, the spying arm, which attracts men and women who are willing to lie, cheat and steal for their country.

"The CIA has no tolerance for harassment of any kind and takes every allegation of such activity extremely seriously," agency spokesman Christopher White said in a statement.

In March, CIA Director John Brennan's sent out a workforce message reaffirming the zero-tolerance policy. "Words or actions that harm a colleague and undermine his or her career are more than just unprofessional, painful and wrong — they are illegal and hurt us all," it said. Brennan assured employees that he would not tolerate acts of reprisal against those who complained of harassment.

The agency won't release its employee workplace surveys or details about complaints, on the grounds that such numbers are classified. The CIA takes that position even though the size of its workforce — 21,459 employees in 2013, not counting thousands of contractors — was disclosed in the "black budget" leaked last year by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden.

The message to employees on harassment, which CIA officials said was the first of its kind, said 15 out of 69 complaints in the 12 months ending Sept. 30, 2013, were found to be true.

In response to the memo, CIA officials acknowledged, many employees complained that none of the government employees involved were fired or demoted.

A senior CIA official familiar with harassment policy, whom agency spokesmen would not allow to be quoted by name, said the idea was to deter the behaviour, not end the careers of the offenders. An unspecified number of CIA employees have been fired over the years for harassment, said White, the agency spokesman.

The officials declined to name the disciplined employees or describe their jobs. One recent disciplinary action was not included in the examples, officials said: Jonathan Bank, the CIA's director of Iran operations, who was removed from his post at headquarters in March after it was found he created a hostile work environment that caused morale to plummet. He is now assigned to the Pentagon.

Many large organizations grapple with workplace harassment, but the CIA faces some unique challenges. For example, the agency, which trains its case officers to manipulate people and lead secret lives, had for years been a place where trysts between managers and subordinates were common, former CIA officials say. And since most of the agency's business is conducted in secret, there has been almost no public accountability for misconduct by senior officials, as there has been in the military.

Neither the CIA nor its National Clandestine Service has ever been headed by a woman, but CIA officials point out that women now hold four of the top seven jobs in the agency. Avril D. Haines is deputy director, the No. 2 job; Fran P. Moore is director of intelligence, the agency's analytical arm; Meroe Park is executive director, the No. 3 job; and Jeannie Tisinger is director for support.

Female analysts also played a key role in the effort to find Osama bin Laden.

___

Follow Ken Dilanian on Twitter at http://twitter.com/KenDilanianAP

  • Rate this Rate This Star Icon
  • This article has not yet been rated.
  • We want you to tell us what you think of our articles. If the story moves you, compels you to act or tells you something you didn’t know, mark it high. If you thought it was well written, do the same. If it doesn’t meet your standards, mark it accordingly.

    You can also register and/or login to the site and join the conversation by leaving a comment.

    Rate it yourself by rolling over the stars and clicking when you reach your desired rating. We want you to tell us what you think of our articles. If the story moves you, compels you to act or tells you something you didn’t know, mark it high.

Sort by: Newest to Oldest | Oldest to Newest | Most Popular 0 Commentscomment icon

You can comment on most stories on brandonsun.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is register and/or login and you can join the conversation and give your feedback.

There are no comments at the moment. Be the first to post a comment below.

Post Your Commentcomment icon

Comment
  • You have characters left

The Brandon Sun does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. Comments are moderated before publication. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

Brandon Sun Business Directory
The First World War at 100
Why Not Minot?
Welcome to Winnipeg

Social Media