CIA disciplines more than 100 employees for secret chat room

CIA disciplines more than 100 employees for secret chat room

By Tony Lee Orr

GCN Staff

CIA employees and contractors who ran a secret chat room on the agency's network as long as 15 years were disciplined late last month for inappropriate use of its computer systems.

More than 100 agency employees were involved in the chat room. Officials said no classified information was disclosed on the site.

The agency revoked security clearances for a senior-level officer and three other employees, which effectively terminates those employees, CIA officials said.

In addition, the security clearances of nine contractors were revoked, rendering them ineligible for continued employment, officials said.

Demotions

Two other senior-level officers received letters of reprimand, along with 16 other employees, the agency said. The senior officers were each demoted one pay grade, and most of the 18 have been suspended without pay for periods ranging from five days to 45 days, officials said.

The group of employees had either run the unauthorized chat room or taken part in discussions on the hidden electronic bulletin board since the mid-1980s, the agency said.

The chat room started out as an unofficial user group on the agency's mainframe system.

Another 79 employees with what the agency called minimal involvement got letters of warning or security briefings. Eight employees were exonerated.

'It is important to note that the investigation uncovered no information involving the unauthorized disclosure of classified information,' CIA officials said.

'But the activities that were the subject of this inquiry were a clear and serious violation of the trust expected of all agency employees.'

Officials said that as the agency migrated to new information systems, the hidden databases were moved to take advantage of them.

Up to 160 employees and contractors were involved with the chat room at one time or another, the agency said. Some had retired or otherwise left the agency by the time the investigation began.

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