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 behaviour," and an operative who was sent home from an overseas post for inappropriately touching female colleagues.
The examples, sent several weeks ago in an email to the CIA`s workforce by the director of the agency`s Office of Equal Employment Opportunity, were meant to show how the agency is enforcing a zero-tolerance policy toward harassment.
But the announcement sparked heated commentary in postings on the CIA`s internal networks, officials acknowledged, with some employees arguing the agency does not sufficiently ferret out and punish misconduct.
The CIA`s personnel systems seem to be fundamentally broken, and harassment frequently goes unreported, one officer said in an excerpt of an employee posting obtained by the AP.
The authenticity of the posting was not disputed by the agency.
CIA officials took issue with that assertion after agreeing to discuss the workforce message on the condition that they not be quoted by name.
The agency officials made available CIA Director John Brennan`s March workforce message reaffirming the zero-tolerance policy, saying, "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."
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 September 30, 2013, were found to be true.
In the interest of "transparency," the message said, officials shared summaries of four examples involving three unidentified CIA employees and a contractor.
A supervisor who engaged in bullying, hostile behaviour and retaliatory management techniques was removed from the job, given a letter of reprimand, and ordered to undergo leadership and harassment training.