CIA Sues Author in Prepublication Review Dispute

10.19.10 | 2 min read | Text by Steven Aftergood

The Central Intelligence Agency has filed a lawsuit against one of its own former employees after he published a book on intelligence without first getting the CIA’s prior approval, the Washington Times reported today.

A book called “The Human Factor: Inside the CIA’s Dysfunctional Intelligence Culture” was written by a former CIA clandestine services officer under the pen name Ishmael Jones.  It was published earlier this year, the government says, “in defiance of the CIA’s Publications Review Board’s disapproval and instructions not to publish.”  See “CIA sues ex-agent for book’s breach of ‘secrecy'” by Bill Gertz, Washington Times, October 19, 2010.

The CIA’s complaint (pdf) against Jones, filed in July, says that he violated the terms of the non-disclosure agreement that he signed as a condition of his employment and that, as a result, he is in breach of contract.

As a first order of business, the CIA sought (pdf) and gained the Court’s approval (pdf) to proceed against Jones using his pseudonym since, the Agency argued, disclosing his real name could compromise national security.

“For CIA officers to effectively and securely collect foreign intelligence and conduct clandestine foreign intelligence activities around the world, they cannot openly admit that they work for the CIA,” the government brief explained.

But “if defendant’s true name and affiliation with the CIA were officially acknowledged, foreign governments, enterprising journalists, and amateur spy-hunters would be able to discover and publicly disclose the cover methods defendant used to conceal his true status as a CIA officer,” the brief said.

The class of persons who constitute “amateur spy-hunters” was not further identified.