A senior CIA operative who handled sensitive informants in Iraq asserts that CIA managers asked him to falsify his reporting on weapons of mass destruction and retaliated against him after he refused.
The operative, who remains under cover, asserts in a lawsuit made public yesterday that a co-worker warned him in 2001 "that CIA management planned to 'get him' for his role in reporting intelligence contrary to official CIA dogma."
"Our mission is to . . . report the facts," Anya Guilsher, a CIA spokeswoman, says of the agency.
The subject of that reporting has been blacked out by the CIA, and the word "Iraq" does not appear in the heavily redacted version of the legal complaint, but the remaining language and context make clear that the officer's work related to prewar intelligence on Iraq's alleged weapons of mass destruction.
In the lawsuit, the officer asserts that CIA managers retaliated against him for refusing their demands by beginning a counterintelligence investigation of allegations that he had sex with a female asset and by initiating an inspector general's investigation into allegations that he stole money meant to be used to pay human assets.
Those investigations, the lawsuit asserts, were "initiated for the sole purpose of discrediting him and retaliating against him for questioning the integrity of the WMD reporting . . . and for refusing to falsify his intelligence reporting to support the politically mandated conclusion" of matters that are redacted in the lawsuit.
The lawsuit marks the first public instance in which a CIA employee has charged directly that agency officials pressured him to produce intelligence to support the administration's prewar position that Iraq's weapons of mass destruction were a grave and gathering threat, and to suppress information that ran counter to that view.
"Their official dogma was contradicted by his reporting and they did not want to hear it," said Roy Krieger, the officer's attorney.
Anya Guilsher, a CIA spokeswoman, said the agency could not comment on the lawsuit but added, "The notion that CIA managers order officers to falsify reports is flat wrong. Our mission is to call it like we see it and report the facts."
Critics of the Iraq war have asserted the administration pressured analysts and operators to produce information that bolstered the administration's case for invading Iraq. Congressional investigations did not find evidence to support that charge, but found that the CIA did not have enough spies in Iraq and that the analysis of the highly circumstantial evidence was mischaracterized as firmer than it was.
No biological or chemical weapons have been found in Iraq. A subsequent CIA-led investigation found that Iraq was nowhere near producing a nuclear weapon, as the administration had asserted.
The unnamed operative is a 23-year officer of Middle Eastern descent who spent much of his career on secret and covert operations to collect intelligence on and interdict weapons of mass destruction, the lawsuit says.
In 2002, the lawsuit says, the CIA officer "attempted to report routine intelligence" from a human asset "but was thwarted by CIA superiors." It goes on to say that he was subsequently approached by a senior desk officer "who insisted that Plaintiff falsify his reporting," and that when he refused, the "management" of the CIA's Counterproliferation Division ordered that he "remove himself from any further 'handling' " of the unnamed asset, who is referred elsewhere in the document as "a highly respected human asset."
The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Washington on Friday and placed in the public court docket yesterday after a judge said it could proceed using a pseudonym for the plaintiff, says his superiors falsely promised him that they would report his findings to President Bush and falsely claimed that they had disseminated some of his other reports through normal channels.
In 2003, the lawsuit says, the CIA officer learned of the counterintelligence investigation of allegations that he was having sex with a female asset. Five days later, it says, he was told that a promotion was being canceled "because of pressure from the DDO [Deputy Director of Operations] James Pavitt."
Pavitt declined to comment.
In September 2003, the CIA placed the officer on administrative leave without explanation, the lawsuit says. Eight months later, it says, the inspector general's office advised him that he was under investigation for "diverting to his own use monies provided him for payment to human assets." The document says the allegations were made by the same managers who had asked him to falsify reports.
In August 2004, he was terminated "for unspecified reasons," the lawsuit says. It requests that his employment, salary and promotions be restored and that the CIA pay compensatory damages and legal fees.
In a letter to CIA acting general counsel John Rizzo dated Dec. 6, Krieger requested a meeting between the officer and CIA Director Porter J. Goss because of "the serious nature of the allegations in this case, including deliberately misleading the President on intelligence concerning weapons of mass destruction."