At least 10 employees of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), as well as contractors working with the agency, have allegedly been committing sexual crimes against children without punishment for the last 14 years, according to an investigative report by BuzzFeed.
The claims stem from hundreds of documents featuring internal agency reports that were obtained and compiled by BuzzFeed through numerous Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests.
Allegedly, despite most of the cases in question being referred to U.S. attorneys for prosecution, criminal charges were only brought against one individual. The rest of the cases were ultimately dealt with internally, which usually led to no more than possible loss of employment and revoking of security clearances. Staffers at the CIA claim that the agency tries to avoid prosecution as often as possible because such legal processes could ostensibly expose state secrets.
Among other examples, one employee was fired for having sexual contact with a 2-year-old and a 6-year-old, while another employee resigned for obtaining sexually explicit videos of little girls that were filmed by their mothers. When a contractor made an arrangement to have sex with an undercover FBI agent who was posing as a child, his punishment simply consisted of revoking his contract with the agency.
When questioned about this lack of transparency, the CIA said that it “takes all allegations of possible criminal misconduct committed by personnel seriously.” A similarly vague statement was issued by the Eastern District of Virginia, which said that it “takes seriously its responsibility to hold accountable federal government employees who violate federal law within our jurisdiction.”
An anonymous former CIA official, speaking to BuzzFeed, reiterated concerns that prosecution of some agents could compromise sensitive material.
“We can’t have these people testify, they may inadvertently be forced to disclose sources and methods,” the official said, citing the need to protect “sensitive and classified equities.” But he did note that “for crimes of a certain class, whether it’s an intelligence agency or not, you just have to figure out how to prosecute these people.”
Another problem that arises with the nature of these documents, having been obtained via FOIA, is that much of the crucial information is redacted to protect the privacy of any individuals involved.
“Not knowing the identities of the suspects is a hindrance in identifying these cases and why they were declined,” said the spokesperson for the aforementioned Eastern District of Virginia, the jurisdiction where most of the alleged crimes took place.
In total, of the 10 cases where the inspector general confirmed sexual crimes were committed against children, five of the accused employees were either fired or resigned. An additional four were referred to internal reviews by personnel boards or the Office of Security. The outcome of the tenth case is unknown.