‘Little to no accountability’: House Intel report finds CIA failed to properly handle sexual assaults within

The CIA failed to properly handle sexual assault among its own employees according to a bipartisan report from the House intelligence committee.

The CIA provided “little to no accountability or punishment for confirmed perpetrators,” and there was “confusion and disorder” in the process for reporting sexual assaults and harassment, the investigation’s final report, obtained by Politico, found.

The eight “key findings” listed in the report “were generally illustrative of long-standing issues with the internal reporting structure at CIA,” the committee stated.

“Victims were deterred from coming forward because victims did not have anonymity and were unable to seek confidential assistance,” the report states.

“There was ineffective training for employees on how to identify and report cases of sexual assault and harassment,” it continues. “There was an inconsistent approach to, or lack of, timely coordination with law enforcement.”

The committee called out several offices by name for their shortcomings:

The Threat Management Unit (TMU) had an unclear role and lacked the necessary training for sexual assault investigations, which complicated the TMU’s role in response efforts.

The Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office lacked the necessary resources and authority to fulfill its intended purpose.

The Office of Equal Employment Opportunity had internal issues that rendered it unable to effectively engage in response efforts.


According to Politico, “The committee started its inquiry in January 2023 after a female CIA employee alleged that she had been physically attacked and sexually assaulted by a fellow officer at CIA headquarters.”

“POLITICO, which revealed the investigation last April, reported that the agency had not punished a male colleague who had tried to forcibly kiss her repeatedly and that the agency did nothing when she reported the incident,” the outlet adds. “Numerous other whistleblowers also went to the committee and shared their own stories of sexual assault and harassment while at the agency. During its investigation, the committee interviewed more than 20 CIA whistleblowers, reviewed more than 4,000 pages of documents the agency gave it and held two oversight hearings.”

“Over the course of the investigation, the committee discovered that CIA failed to handle allegations of sexual assault and harassment within its workforce in the professional and uniform manner that such sensitive allegations warrant,” according to the executive summary of the report.

The committee also praised the “many officers within CIA’s workforce, at all levels, who recognized the need to improve CIA’s response to sexual assault and harassment, while maintaining the necessary posture to prepare officers for the dangerous world they are asked to operate in.”

“The Committee commends the efforts, frequently initiated by the victims themselves, to create safe spaces for victims to report and relay their experiences and to improve the agency’s responsiveness to such allegations,” they state.

Ultimately, however, the committee found that the CIA failed to implement “prudent recommendations.”

“Through the Committee’s investigation, it became clear that various individuals and working groups within CIA had identified prudent recommendations for improving CIA’s sexual assault and harassment response processes, but that that CIA failed to fully implement some or all of those recommendations,” the committee wrote. “It was evident CIA was unable to appropriately address the challenges due to its lack of certain tools and authorities.”

“The CIA said that it established an office in 2021 that advocates for officers who are dealing with sexual assault and harassment concerns and last June hired an experienced outside expert on sexual assault to lead that office,” Politico reports. “It said it also has made changes to strengthen its disciplinary processes and streamlined the way employees can report allegations and find resources to address their individual circumstances.”

“We take the issue of sexual assault and harassment extremely seriously,” the CIA told Politico in a statement. “We are absolutely committed to fostering a safe, respectful workplace environment for our employees and have taken significant steps to ensure that, both by bolstering our focus on prevention and strengthening the agency’s handling of these issues when they arise.”

“The committee said the agency had cooperated with the investigation and ‘demonstrated an eagerness to effectively prevent and respond to sexual assault and harassment instances,'” the outlet reports. “It also praised CIA Director Bill Burns and other senior leadership for working with the committee during its investigation.

“During the course of its probe, the committee and later Congress passed legislative language in the Intelligence Authorization Act that is supposed to improve how victims report assaults and give more options to them to confidentially report such attacks and also require more sunlight into how such reports are handled.”

Melissa Fine


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