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 Directors statement that he will not tolerate anti-Semitism at the intelligence
agency. The statement came in a letter in response to the Leagues 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 CIAs Office of General Counsel. As I indicated to you, we
would be deeply concerned if Mr. Ciralskys 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.
Ciralskys 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 groups 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
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
THE DIRECTOR OF CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE
WASHINGTON, D.C. 20505
13 April 1999
Mr. Abraham Foxman
Anti-Defamation League of Bnai Brith
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
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. Ciralskys 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 CIAs leadership team. My four immediate predecessors have also issued a
strong statement defending the Agencys 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.