CIA’s Iran chief head suspended after probe finds ‘hostile’ work conditions

Operations head suspended after probe finds he created abusive environment in critical division

PUBLISHED : Monday, 17 March, 2014, 9:17pm
UPDATED : Monday, 17 March, 2014, 9:17pm


The CIA's chief of Iran operations was placed on paid administrative leave and sent home from agency headquarters after an internal investigation found he had created an abusive and hostile work environment that put a critical division in disarray, current and former officials say.

Officers and analysts in the Iran operations division, which co-ordinates spying on Iran and its nuclear programme, were informed at a meeting last week at CIA headquarters in Langley, in the US state of Virginia, of the decision to suspend veteran officer Jonathan Bank, a senior intelligence service member.

Three former officials said the Iran operations division was in open rebellion to Bank's management style, with several key employees demanding transfers.

"Iran is one of most important targets, and the place was not functioning," one official said.

In 2010, Bank was pulled out as CIA station chief in Islamabad after newspapers in Pakistan, India, England and elsewhere published his name in connection with a court case, and the agency said he had received death threats. US officials believe Pakistan's intelligence service leaked the name in a dispute over CIA drone attacks in the country's tribal belt.

Bank, 46, previously served at CIA stations in the Balkans, Moscow and Baghdad, former agency officials said. He was also a top assistant to James Pavitt, who from 1999 to 2004 headed the CIA's operations arm, now known as the National Clandestine Service.

Bank is technically undercover, but his name has been public since the 2010 incident. He did not respond to e-mailed requests for comment.

Dean Boyd, the agency's chief spokesman, said he could not comment on a personnel issue.

Several former CIA officials said they could not remember a senior manager being suspended over workplace issues, but management problems are a recurring challenge at the agency.

According to a Los Angeles Times report in July, an internal CIA workplace survey in 2009 found that those who left the agency frequently cited bad management as a factor.