CIA discriminates, Jewish lawyer says

WASHINGTON — A Jewish lawyer with the CIA is threatening to sue the federal government for singling out Jews as security risks.

Adam Ciralsky, 28, was placed on administrative leave in October, when CIA officials revoked his security clearance after he was questioned about his Jewish connections, according to a source with direct knowledge of the incident.

A member of the CIA's honor program for lawyers, Ciralsky was set to rotate into a White House post to advise Richard Clark, the administration's terrorism expert at the National Security Council.

But when the time came for his security clearance to be renewed, the CIA blocked the appointment and placed him on leave with pay, said the source who asked not to be identified.

According to the source, the CIA asked Ciralsky about his parents' contributions to Jewish causes, including the Milwaukee Jewish Federation, his contact with Americans who have dual Israeli citizenship and his recreational trips to Israel. Ciralsky spent a semester studying in Israel, the source said.

"To question Ciralsky's loyalty to the United States based on his very common connection to Jewish causes and to Israel is an offense to the entire Jewish community," said Washington attorney Neal Sher, who is representing Ciralsky.

The multimillion-dollar lawsuit, which has been drafted but not yet filed, charges that the CIA violated Ciralsky's civil and constitutional rights.

"There is a pernicious and double standard for Jews," said Sher, the former executive director of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, where Ciralsky worked as an intern while an undergraduate at George Washington University.

Ciralsky had previously passed at least two other security clearance exams. He has had clearances since at least 1993 when he worked at the Defense Intelligence Agency, another of the federal government's espionage agencies.

Jewish government officials with security clearances have complained for years that they are subjected to more rigorous questioning and a presumption of guilt than other officials.

Many say the problem stems from the 1985 arrest of Jonathan Pollard, a Navy analyst who pled guilty to passing U.S. secrets to Israel. Pollard is currently serving a life sentence for those crimes.

CIA spokesman Mark Mansfield refused to comment on the specific case, but said the CIA "absolutely does not and categorically rejects" all charges that Jews are considered special security risks.

"The notion that the CIA violates the constitutional rights of Americans or discriminates on the basis of race, gender, religious affiliation, national original, political views or any other basis is simply without foundation," he said.

Ciralsky was traveling and could not be reached for comment.