Dual Loyalties

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Monday, January 03, 2005

Excerpts of 60 Minutes Interview of Adam Ciralsky - Part II

xcerpts of 60 Minutes Interview of Adam Ciralsky - Part II: "Excerpts of 60 Minutes Interview of Adam Ciralsky - Part II
Jewish Press (NY) - February 18, 2000
Lesley Stahl: In the case of Adam Ciralsky, he says he was grilled about every Israeli he ever met from the time he was Bar Mitzvah'ed at 13. Adam Ciralsky: They started in chronological order, marching through my trips to Israel, which have been with my family, or during the summer camp in Israel. And, without fail, every person who I was in contact with, the people who were interrogating me would ask, "Did this person try to pitch you to work for Israel?

Lesley Stahl: So, they thought maybe it was possible you had been recruited when you were a teenager? Adam Ciralsky: Right. And, you know, I didn't even have a driver's license, much less access to classified information.

Lesley Stahl: They also accused him of violating the CIA policy that requires employees to report all foreigners they have "a close and continuing relationship with." So who did the mole hunters ask Ciralsky about?

Adam Ciralsky: People who never lived during MY lifetime. People I've never met. American citizens, and people I haven't seen in a decade.

Lesley Stahl: People like Chaim Weizmann, the first President of Israel.

Adam Ciralsky: He was my great grandfather's first cousin He died in 1952, I was born in 1971. And yet the agency faulted me for not listing him as a close and continuing contact.

Lesley Stahl: This counter-intelligence document refers to "rich Jewish friends" and Ciralsky's "wealthy Daddy." And it describes Ciralsky's family, incorrectly, as "extreme supporters of Israel's hard liners." Neal Sher, a former of federal prosecutor, and now Adam Ciralsky's lawyer, is outraged by that memo. Neal Sher: Well whether the person who wrote that memo knows it, it is resurrecting all the old disgraced canards about Jews: "All Jews are rich." "All Jews have another agenda." "Jews can't be trusted."

Lesley Stahl: Is this, in your mind, evidence of anti-Semitism? Neal Sher: Absolutely.

Lesley Stahl: Or just ignorance? Neal Sher: It's a combination, and that's a terrible combination.

Lesley Stahl: He says the memo was written by a person in a significant position of authority. Neal Sher: We believe it's the head of the Middle East Desk of Counter-Intelligence. It goes to a person who was interrogating Mr. Ciralsky. And it was part of his official file that decision-makers used to strip this man of his clearance and ruin, effectively, his career.

Lesley Stahl: To your knowledge, has there been any penalty, any punishment on the writer, the author of that memo? Neal Sher: On the contrary. My last information is that that person, is still in place. The only person to have suffered in this debacle has been Adam Ciralsky.

Lesley Stahl: But is the reason for that institutional anti-Semitism at the CIA or something else? We've been shown an agency report indicating that a tipster claimed Ciralsky had once tried to facilitate the transfer of classified information to Israel. Ciralsky flatly denies it, and says that his accuser is hardly a reliable source.

Adam Ciralsky: What we have since learned, and which the agency (CIA) knows and knew at the time, was one this individual was under investigation and, as far as we know, still is, for stealing classified information from .Lawrence Livemore National Labs. Secondly, he was under investigation from the Department of Defense, Inspector General's office.

Lesley Stahl: Some intelligence sources say the case against Ciralsky is corroborated by highly-secret evidence from another federal agency. But when the Justice Department reviewed that evidence, it declined to bring charges against Ciralsky. Still, the CIA refuses to reinstate him. The reason: Not espionage, but for what they call a "lack of candor."

Adam Ciralsky: The idea that I'm guilty of a lack of candor is ludicrous.

Lesley Stahl: To the investigators it seemed that information had to be yanked out of him. And even Ciralsky admits that in a series of polygraphs and interrogations he often challenged the questions and quibbled about legalities. But he believes that the Agency was out to get him long before the questioning began, and that the line of questioning war, improper. So did you say 'this is improper?"

Adam Ciralsky: Yes.

Lesley Stahl: They didn't like that?

Adam Ciralsky: Wrong answer.

Lesley Stahl: Wrong answer.

Adam Ciralsky: Always the wrong answer, and in fact I did move than that. I said, "Well I think I've been misled about the purpose and scope of this examination. Can I conduit with the Polygraph Supervisor, as is my right under CIA regulations?" "No.-

Lesley Stahl: So you were in trouble right away.

Adam Ciralsky: Oh yeah.

Lesley Stahl: I can see them saying, "This guy's a smart sleek." You could see that. They must have.

Adam Ciralsky: Well I mean they don't anyone questioning their methods.

Lesley Stahl: So... was Ciralsky a bad apple? Or was he unfairly tarnished just because he's a religious Jew?

The CIA appointed a panel of prominent citizens, including American Jews to review the case. The panel concluded that anti-Semitism played no role, though Ciralsky says the group only saw what the CIA wanted it to see.

And he points out that CIA Director George Tenet sent a letter to the Anti-Defamation League describing the language used in CIA memos about the case as "insensitive, unprofessional and highly inappropriate," and as a result, the CIA hired the Anti-Defamation League to provide sensitivity training to the mole hunters."

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