NEW YORK — A Jewish attorney at the Central Intelligence Agency plans to file a federal lawsuit suing the agency for anti-Semitism, after he was placed on unpaid leave because he had contacts with Israelis and his "wealthy daddy" supported Israeli causes, his lawyer said Friday, April 9.
Adam Ciralsky, 27, has been on leave since Oct. 20, 1997, because CIA officials "were determined for improper reasons to get rid of him, because of his legitimate, and his family's legitimate, ties to Israel," his lawyer, Neal Sher, said Friday.
"Ties — meaning they visited, they support Israel, they support Jewish causes like the United Jewish Appeal, buying Israel bonds," Sher said. "If contributing to UJA and Israel Bonds makes one suspicious and questions your loyalty, then the majority of American Jews would be under suspicion," Sher told National Public Radio, which broke the story. He added that there is a "pervasive and pernicious pattern of conduct that can only be described as anti-Semitism."
CIA documents about interrogations of Ciralsky show bias by describing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as "right-wing," using the words "rich Jewish friends," and saying Ciralsky had a "wealthy daddy" who probably supports Israeli causes, according to Sher, the former director of the Justice Department's Nazi-hunting unit.
"I think that it is important that he state openly he and his family's support for the Likud Party," one document says. "He may simply be withholding on this issue, because it paints him and his family as extreme supporters of Israel's hard-liners in the Likud Party, and he wishes to avoid being seen as such a lover of Israel."
The CIA was quick to deny the charges. Director George Tenet issued a statement saying that the agency has examined the allegations of anti-Semitism and found nothing to substantiate them. "I will not tolerate anti-Semitism or any other form of discrimination at the agency," Tenet said. "Anti-Semitism is repugnant to me and to all that our agency and our country stand for."
Three former CIA directors, including John Deutsch, signed a joint statement saying that Ciralsky's allegations were "completely inconsistent with everything we know about the CIA." In a separate statement, Deutsch said, "I am Jewish and during my entire experience with the CIA, since the time I first came into contact with it in 1975 throughout my tenure as [director], which concluded in 1997, I never encountered any hint of anti-Semitism at any point."
Abraham Foxman, director of the Anti-Defamation League, told the Associated Press that he was concerned by the language in some of the CIA memos, but did not believe the agency was institutionally anti-Semitic.
Ciralsky had failed polygraph questions about his contacts with Israelis — referring to his failure to disclose that his high school Hebrew teacher was Israeli — or that, on a trip to Israel as a teen, the guide was Israeli, a source told NPR.
Ciralsky, the son of a Milwaukee surgeon, declined to speak with reporters, because he is still technically employed by the CIA. He had been hired by the CIA's office of general counsel in December 1996 and then was to rotate to the National Security Council in December 1997 for one year. According to the internal CIA memos, which Sher provided to news agencies, "Tenet says this guy is outta here because of a lack of candor."
In another memo, a senior official wrote that Ciralsky "must be made to understand that this will not be misunderstood by CIA, for we are sophisticated and broad minded enough to understand the unique ties that bind American Jews to their brethren in Israel."