The Non Story of the CIA-Congress Whistle-blowers Emails

James Slate
4 min readNov 2, 2018

So another “CIA Scandal” has hit the Presses. This one involving the CIA reading Congressional Emails regarding Whistle blowers. Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Chuck Grassley (R., Iowa),told the Washington Times that the recently released report raised questions about the CIA’s motivations.

“The fact that the CIA under the Obama administration was reading congressional staff’s emails about intelligence-community whistleblowers raises serious policy concerns as well as potential constitutional separation-of-powers issues that must be discussed publicly,” said Grassley, who, according to the Times, has been trying to force the memos’ declassification for four years, but was prevented by Obama administration officials’ “bureaucratic foot-dragging.”

“Nothing — nothing — should inhibit or interfere with Congress’s constitutional job and protecting whistleblowers,” Grassley added.

So what is the truth about this? Charles McCullough III, who served as CIA inspector general at the time said this was lawful and justified, and it was. On 19 March 2014 the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) security the Inspector General that they had conducted an inquiry prompted by routine counterintelligence (CI) monitoring of Government computer systems. As a result of this inquiry, CIA CI personnel obtained emails between the Executive Director of Whistleblowing & Source Protection and Congressional staff. Most of these emails concerned pending and developing whistleblower complaints. CIA security compiled a report that includes excerpts of these whistleblower-related communications, and this report was eventually shared with CIA management.CIA security did take steps to limit the internal dissemination of this report upon realizing the Inspector General (IG) equities involved.

This type of monitoring which occurred is lawful and justified for CI purposes. The CIA is permitted to conduct counterintelligence activities without assuming or performing any internal security functions. Counter Intelligence refers to Counterintelligence means information gathered and activities conducted to identify, deceive, exploit, disrupt, or protect against espionage, other intelligence activities, sabotage, or assassinations conducted for or
on behalf of foreign powers, organizations or persons, or their agents, or international terrorist organizations

Per the Newer CIA Attorney General Guidelines

Section 2.3 of Executive Order 12333 permits collection, retention, and dissemination of information

concerning United States persons (US. persons). Consistent with that Executive Order, the CIA may collect,

retain, and disseminate the following types of information concerning U.S. persons if done in the course of

ClA's duly authorized intelligence activities and in fulfillment of the national security responsibilities:

Information constituting foreign intelligence or counterintelligence, including such information
concerning corporations or other commercial organizations. Collection within the United States of foreign intelligence not otherwise obtainable shall be undertaken by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) or, when significant foreign intelligence is sought, by the CIA, provided that no foreign intelligence collection may be undertaken for the purpose of acquiring information Concerning the domestic activities of United States persons;
In formation obtained in the course of a lawful foreign intelligence, counterintelligence, international drug, or international terrorism investigation; Information needed to protect the safety of any persons or organizations, including those who are targets, victims, or hostages of international terrorist organizations;Collection within the United States shall be undertaken by the FBI except that other elements of the Intelligence Community may also collect such information concerning present or former employees, present or former intelligence element contractors or their present or former employees, or applicants for any such employment or contracting:

The CIA may retain information that has been lawfully collected concerning a U.S. person if the information is necessary to protect foreign intelligence or counterintelligence sources or methods from unauthorized disclosure. As the CIA has explained, they “provide the framework for ensuring that the CIA engages in its foreign intelligence, counterintelligence, and covert action missions in support of national security in a manner that respects Americans’ privacy rights and civil liberties.”

Sections 2.3–2.13 of Executive Order 12333 authorize, prohibit, and/or regulate collection of publicly available information, information obtained with consent, foreign intelligence and counterintelligence, information obtained in the course of lawful investigations, information needed to protect intelligence sources and methods, information concerning potential human sources, information needed for investigations into personnel or communications security, information obtained by satellites, incidentally acquired information that may be evidence of a crime, electronic surveillance, physical searches, physical surveillance in the United States and abroad, cooperation between intelligence and law enforcement, clandestine contracting, human experimentation, assassination, covert action, and many other matters.


After reading this, and seeing the comments made by Grassley, It’s exactly as I thought: A repeat of the SSCI staff’s fumbling of RDInet, alleging CIA spying on their investigations. Everything routine done was routine. And as the CIA said, the CIA respects whistleblower protection within the Intelligence Community, and does not tolerate reprisals or the threat of reprisals against employees on the basis of protected disclosures. So none of this is going to create a “chilling effect” on Whistleblowers.



James Slate

I Defend America and its Foreign Policy from a Liberal Perspective.