Saturday, September 8, 2018

Republicans Conduct Another Black Bag Operation on the Central Intelligence Agency

Any thought that the Republican Party was the party of law and order departed our collective conscience when Donald Trump was elected president. Oh, we knew they were crooks, despite Dick Nixon's denial (although he was in fairness, only speaking for himself). We knew they'd go to any lengths to protect their story line on Iraq and WMD, including revealing the identity of a CIA field agent, but this? This is a new low even for them.

Dr. Jeff T.H. Pon
Director, Office of Personnel Management
Director Daniel Coats
Director of National Intelligence

Dear Director Pon and Director Coats,

As former national security professionals, we have all served our country—some of us in uniform, others as intelligence, diplomatic, law enforcement, or national security professionals.We did so not for the prestige, and not for the paycheck, but because we wanted to give back: representing, advocating for, and protecting the United States at home and around the world.We asked for very little in return, assuming only that the country we served would always have our backs.

As such, it was with surprise, anger, and profound disappointment that we recently learned that our government—whether intentionally or not—violated the trust of one among our ranks.The New York Times reported this month that the Executive Branch released in full the confidential national security questionnaire, or SF-86, of Abigail Spanberger, who served as a CIA case officer until 2014. The SF-86 is one of the most confidential and sensitive documents the U.S. government requires its national security officials to file. Neither we, nor national security law experts we have consulted, are familiar with any previous case of an SF-86 being released in full, to include Social Security Number and medical history, pursuant to a Freedom of Information Act request, as was reportedly done in this case.

We have yet to hear an adequate explanation as to why Ms. Spanberger’s sensitive personal information was released and subsequently made public by House Speaker Paul Ryan’s Political Action Committee, the Congressional Leadership Fund. It is possible this situation maybe the result of a single person’s error. Nevertheless, we note how peculiar it would be for the first victim of such an error to be Ms. Spanberger, who is the Democratic nominee in a competitive U.S. House of Representatives race in Virginia. To be clear, Ms. Spanberger’s current political ambitions should have absolutely nothing to do with the obligation of the Executive Branch to safeguard her personal and confidential information. Absent answers, however, we cannot dismiss the deeply troubling possibility that this was an act of political retribution by this administration in violation of U.S. law.

Ultimately, this is about more than Ms. Spanberger’s case or our own concern for the security of our personal information. Each year, thousands of aspiring public servants file this same document, hoping to serve their country, just as we did. They must be confident that their information will be handled securely and never released pursuant to a political agenda. They, we, and Ms. Spanberger deserve answers.
You can donate to Abigail Spanberger's campaign, should you choose to do so, at: