Despite pledges of increased transparency, the US intelligence community successfully fought a Congressional measure that would require agencies to give more details about personnel who have been promoted or fired.
The measure was designed to bring additional scrutiny to instances of senior personnel being promoted to top positions, despite wide-ranging problems.
The CIA, in particular, has faced criticism over the promotion of employees involved in the torture of prisoners or botched operations to capture terrorist suspects.
A provision drafted by the Senate Intelligence Committee this year would have required intelligence agencies provide names of those being promoted to top positions and disclose any “significant and credible information to suggest that the individual is unfit or unqualified.”
That language faced intense opposition from the Director of National Intelligence, James R. Clapper Jr., according to officials involved in the matter who spoke to the Washington Post. As a result, the wording was watered down by Congress this month and now requires Clapper and the intelligence community only to furnish “information the Director determines appropriate.”
Some US officials told the Post that Clapper objected to the measure because it would generate a larger bureaucratic workload. But others said that US spy chiefs chafed at the idea of subjecting their top officials to congressional scrutiny, warning that candidates for certain jobs would probably withdraw.
Lawmakers were told that “some intelligence personnel would be reluctant to seek promotions out of concern that information about them would be presented to the Hill,” a US official involved in the discussions was quoted as saying by the Post.
Following high-profile screw-ups in recent years, American spy chiefs have pledged to be more forthcoming in personnel matters and other issues that do not directly involve sensitive information.
One case involved a CIA analyst who was widely blamed for a 2003 operation in Macedonia that captured a German citizen and took him to a secret prison in Afghanistan before operatives realized they had kidnapped and tortured an innocent man.
Nonetheless, the analyst was never punished and went on to hold a series of high-level jobs at CIA headquarters, including in its Counterterrorism Center, the Post reported.
More recently, a top CIA manager who had been removed from his job for abusive treatment of subordinates was reinstated this year as deputy chief for counterintelligence at the Counterterrorism Center.