FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                               

 

March 3, 2006

 

FOR MORE INFORMATION

Mark S. Zaid, Esq.                                                                                                      

(202) 454-2809 (o)

(202) 498-0011 (cell)

[email protected]

 

FORMER INTELLIGENCE OFFICER SUES CIA TO CHALLENGE

EFFORT TO BLOCK PUBLICATION OF HIS FORTHCOMING BOOK

 

CIA's Effort Reflects New Policy To Hinder Efforts By Former/Current Employees To Publish Information And Experiences Learned During Employment

WASHINGTON, D.C. --

 

      A former CIA Intelligence Officer, Thomas Waters, Jr., filed a lawsuit today before the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia asserting his First Amendment rights are being intentionally violated by the CIA. The CIA has threatened Waters with legal penalties if he publishes significant portions of his book "Class 11: Inside the CIA's First Post-9/11 Spy Class", which is currently scheduled for publication on April 6, 2006 (and is available for advance purchase through Amazon.com). Waters participated in the first CIA training class that followed the tragic terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, and served at the CIA from 2002-2004. He is now a senior intelligence contract analyst for the Department of Defense.

 

      Waters initially submitted his manuscript for prepublication review, a requirement imposed on CIA employees through their secrecy agreements, in May 2004. By late September 2004, the CIA's Publications Review Board ("PRB"), which coordinates the classification review of manuscripts, had approved for release the entire manuscript except for requiring the deletion of four words (which was done). Waters then sold his manuscript to Dutton, which is part of Penguin Group, in December 2004. The CIA was aware of the dissemination and sale of the manuscript.

 

      In May and September 2005, Waters submitted some additional minor modifications to the manuscript, and supported all the changes through references to public source documents or previously released materials. Although required to respond within 30 days of receiving the changes, no response was ever received. Suddenly, the CIA notified Waters in December 2005 that he was not permitted to share the manuscript with anyone. Two months later, and just weeks before the book is to appear in bookstores, on February 15, 2006, the CIA notified Waters that significant portions of the manuscript were considered classified -- the majority of which had already been officially approved by the PRB for release in September 2004.

 

 

      "The CIA continues to deliberately create a hostile environment for its former employees who are seeking to do nothing other than publish nonsensitive, unclassified information. Its actions are completely unconstitutional and designed to disable the First Amendment," said Mark S. Zaid, Waters' Washington, D.C. attorney who routinely handles First Amendment litigation of this type. Zaid added that this latest effort against Waters is further indicative of a pattern of behavior intended to dissuade CIA personnel from ever speaking out publicly.

 

      The publisher describes the forthcoming book of the first post--9/11 CIA training class as "the real story of how this band of everyday Americans joined together to endure the challenge of a lifetime and serve their country. Against the backdrop of Osama bin Laden's videotaped taunts; the Washington, D.C., sniper attacks; and the loss of a CIA field officer in Afghanistan, Waters takes readers behind the scenes, where the trainees learned methods of subterfuge, mastering disguises, withstanding interrogations, and crossing into hostile territory without being detected."

 

      The CIA is also refusing to permit Waters' counsel to have access to the allegedly classified portions of his manuscript; a common tactic now utilized by intelligence agencies. The CIA asserts that legal counsel have no "need-to-know" the contents even when classification challenges are being litigated, and notwithstanding counsel's willingness to execute secrecy/nondisclosure agreements. In a 2002 lawsuit, a U.S. Federal District Judge ruled in a similar prepublication review case that this type of conduct "smacks of retaliation for the assertion of First Amendment rights. Such a justification can not be said to be unrelated to the suppression of free expression."

 

      In response to the CIA's actions, Mr. Zaid's firm has notified the CIA that they will no longer execute secrecy agreements unless their client's relationship to the CIA is itself classified, or an agreement is reached regarding the disclosure of classified information. "It has become more than clear that rather than for the purposes of ensuring the protection of classified information, the Secrecy/Nondisclosure Agreements are being used by the CIA purely to interfere with our ability to represent our clients and for the CIA to gain an advantage, particularly in litigation, in contested employment matters," Zaid wrote in a letter to the CIA's Office of General Counsel.

 

      In the weeks following the attacks, the Central Intelligence Agency received over 150,000 resumés from people wanting to serve their nation as spies. More than one hundred students were admitted to the CIA's Clandestine Service to become Class 11, the first post--9/11 CIA training class. It was the largest and most diverse class in the agency's history. Joining Waters were a World Trade Center victim's fiancée, an NFL alumnus, a New York City comedian, a college athletics coach, a hostage negotiator, and a single mother.

 

      Mr. Zaid serves as the Managing Partner of Krieger & Zaid, PLLC, a Washington, D.C. law firm that specializes in national security cases. The firm has represented more CIA employees in the last decade than any other law firm in the United States. Mr. Zaid, who is a recognized expert on security clearances and the Freedom of Information Act, has handled numerous First Amendment prepublication review cases against the CIA and other intelligence agencies. The most recent prepublication review case handled by the firm, which remains active, is that of Gary Bernsten's book Jawbreaker.

 

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A copy of Waters' lawsuit and relevant correspondence is available upon request.

 

The case is Waters v. CIA, Civil Action No. 06-383 (D.D.C.)(RBW)