WASHINGTON — A CIA intelligence officer says in a lawsuit that his career was derailed after he complained that his boss at a base in a conflict zone repeatedly ordered personnel to travel through dangerous areas on non-essential trips to shop and buy food.
The plaintiff, identified by the CIA-assigned pseudonym “James Pars,” alleges in the federal lawsuit that his boss, who was the chief of mission, ran the base in the undisclosed location like a “college dormitory.”
In late 2014 and 2015, she “placed her personal needs of cooking, baking, socializing, entertainment, exercise and shopping above the needs of the mission — often going days and sometimes more than a week without meeting with key personnel,” the lawsuit stated.
Pars lives in Loudoun County, Virginia, and has been a federal employee for more than 16 years. He filed his suit in December in federal court in Washington, D.C., against the CIA and then-CIA Director John Brennan.
Details of the suit were highlighted in a report issued Thursday by the Project On Government Oversight, an independent watchdog that probes government corruption and misconduct and has called on Congress to strengthen whistleblower protections for employees at U.S. intelligence agencies.
The CIA declined to comment.
Pars, deputy chief of the base, had more than three years of management experience in conflict zones when he arrived there in December 2014.
He alleges in his suit that the chief of mission unnecessarily put herself and other personnel in danger by insisting they travel in areas subject to indirect fire. In one instance, she and other personnel traveled through an area that was hit by a rocket about 10 minutes later, the lawsuit said.
Pars alleged in his suit that the chief of mission had limited to no prior experience in conflict zones and spent hours on the base feeding and entertaining certain U.S. military personnel she called her “adopted sons.”
He said she told him that she was “wrecked” and “horribly depressed” because she missed her family. In one instance, he said, she concluded a staff meeting by remarking: “Let’s get back to cooking,” which caused her to miss a meeting with a senior U.S. military official.
Pars said he complained to her and her supervisors, and took his complaints to the CIA’s Office of Equal Employment Opportunity in early 2015.
When he left for a break in late February 2015, he was told he would not be returning. In his suit, Pars said that before he deployed, he was told that if he completed the one-year assignment, he would likely receive a promotion. He said that leaving early from the tour has severely impacted his CIA career.
His lawsuit cites President Barack Obama’s 2012 presidential policy directive, which was issued to make sure that intelligence workers could report waste, fraud and abuse while protecting classified information. Under the directive, the agency’s inspector general is required to do timely reviews of claims of retaliation.
Pars complained to the CIA inspector general in April 2015, but that office has not issued any final disposition of the matter. Pars claims that the CIA has violated federal law due do its failure to comply with the Obama-era policy directive.
The CIA filed a six-page response, presenting legal reasons why the court cannot rule in Pars’ favor and has asked for the case to be dismissed.