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Press ReleaseAnti-Semitism-USA
CIA Director Tells ADL He Will Not Tolerate Anti-Semitism at Intelligence Agency

New York, NY, April 14, 1999…The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today welcomed the CIA Director’s statement that he will not tolerate anti-Semitism at the intelligence agency. The statement came in a letter in response to the League’s concerns regarding allegations of anti-Semitism by a CIA employee.

In his letter to Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director, George J. Tenet, The Director of Central Intelligence said, "I take the allegations of prejudice very seriously. I will not tolerate anti-Semitism, or any other form of discrimination, at the CIA." With regard to the specific case charging anti-Semitism, The Director said, "I also believe that some of the language used by some of the investigators in this case was insensitive, unprofessional and highly inappropriate."

In welcoming the statement, Mr. Foxman said, " Director Tenet has made it crystal clear that there is no place for anti-Semitism at the CIA and it will not be tolerated on his watch. While the specific case in question is still to be resolved, I am convinced Director Tenet has taken and will continue to take all steps necessary to ensure that the CIA is a workplace free of prejudice and one that practices tolerance."

Following are the ADL and CIA letters:

April 12, 1999

Mr. George Tenet
The Director of Central Intelligence
Washington, DC 20505

Dear Mr. Tenet:

I write in connection with the concerns recently raised publicly by Adam Ciralsky, a former attorney in the CIA’s Office of General Counsel. As I indicated to you, we would be deeply concerned if Mr. Ciralsky’s career was impeded or his loyalty questioned because of legitimate associations with friends and relatives in Israel and his support for pro-Israel organizations.

The Anti-Defamation League has no independent means to assess or investigate Mr. Ciralsky’s charges. Based upon documents his attorney, Neal Sher, has shared with us, some of the questions Mr. Ciralsky was apparently asked by CIA officials seem inappropriate, and susceptible to a charge that they reflect an anti-Semitic bias. At the same time, we also understand that we have only received a small set of the relevant documents in this matter, and that their significance may well depend on the context in which they were written.

I am aware that some time ago you appointed a group of outsiders to look into the issues raised by Mr. Sher, and I applaud you for taking that important step. I would also be interested in learning more about the group’s findings. If the group found evidence of bias, for instance, it is important for the CIA to determine if his case is an isolated aberration, or a symptom of a more systemic problem.

For us, this situation recalls a controversy which erupted in 1996 when a Defense Department memorandum – subsequently repudiated – warned American defense contractors of "strong ethnic ties to Israel present in the United States." At that time, a Pentagon spokesman assured us that "singling out ethnicity as a matter of counterintelligence vulnerability is particularly repugnant to the Department." We strongly believe that this statement should reflect the policy of the entire American intelligence establishment.

I very much respect your work as CIA Director, and the concerns expressed in this letter are certainly not a reflection on your distinguished leadership or that of your predecessors. By word and by deed, you have demonstrated a welcome commitment to fighting bias within the CIA, including your initiative to institute a program of sensitivity training for CIA employees. If a problem exists anywhere within the CIA, I am confident you will take the necessary steps to address it.

Thank you for your attention to the concerns conveyed in this letter.

Abraham H. Foxman


13 April 1999

Mr. Abraham Foxman
Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith
823 United Nations Plaza
New York, New York 10017

Dear Mr. Foxman:

Thank you for your letter concerning recent allegations of anti-semitism at the CIA made by Adam Ciralsky. As you know, the Privacy Act and certain security concerns prevent me from discussing the specifics of the circumstances which brought Mr. Ciralsky to his present state. Due to these constraints, my response to you must be severely limited.

I take allegations of prejudice very seriously. I will not tolerate anti-semitism, or any other form of discrimination, at the CIA. It is repugnant to me and to all that our Agency and Country stand for. For these reasons, when Mr. Ciralsky’s allegations first arose, I assembled a group to examine whether the CIA engaged in anti-semitism. The group reported to me that, based on its review, it found no anti-semitism, but did find a small number of instances of insensitivity. The group consisted of Admiral William Crowe, Eli Jacobs, Professor Henry Rosovsky, Nicole Seligman and Judge William Webster.

I also believe that some of the language used by some of the investigators in this case was insensitive, unprofessional and highly inappropriate. That is why I approached the Anti-Defamation League last year and sought your assistance in providing ongoing training to CIA personnel to heighten sensitivity and ensure that prejudice would find no home here at CIA in any form.

The Central Intelligence Agency is an organization which celebrates diversity. More than any other part of the U.S. government, we must seek out employees from the widest variety of ethnic, cultural and religious backgrounds. It is our job to understand the world and in order to achieve our mission we must have a diverse workforce that represents a broad spectrum of perspectives and skills. The notion of singling out any Agency employee or ethnic group for different or unfair treatment is totally abhorrent to me and to all of CIA’s leadership team. My four immediate predecessors have also issued a strong statement defending the Agency’s long-standing commitment to and record of unbiased treatment for all Agency employees.

I am grateful to you for sharing your thoughts with me and for providing your guidance and the resources of the Anti-Defamation League to help us do our job better. I welcome your continued advice and assistance to ensure that we remain faithful to our commitment and true to our promises, so that the CIA continues to be the kind of workplace of which all Americans can be proud.

George J. Tenet

The Anti-Defamation League, founded in 1913, is the world's leading organization fighting anti-Semitism through programs and services that counteract hatred, prejudice and bigotry.

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1999 Anti-Defamation League