The CIA division responsible for tracking Iranian affairs has been in disarray due to clashes between analysts and their chief, the Los Angeles Times reported. The agency has suspended the chief with pay over what are characterized as workplace issues.
Jonathan Bank, head of Iran operations, and a former Islamabad station chief, was told to stay home in the wake of an internal investigation, which established that his managerial approach had created an intimidating and inhospitable work environment, the Times reported.
Bank is a senior intelligence operative responsible for coordinating espionage on Iran, including its nuclear program. The Iran division has reportedly been torn apart by acrimony over Bank’s managerial methods. Some essential analysts have asked to be transferred.
“Iran is one of [our] most important targets, and the place was not functioning,” a former official told the Times.
In 2010, Pakistani intelligence reportedly leaked Bank’s name while he was CIA station chief in Islamabad. Among his previous assignments, Bank held a senior position in the agency’s clandestine service.
CIA spokesman Dean Boyd, while not commenting specifically on the Bank case, said, “As a general matter, the CIA expects managers at all levels to demonstrate leadership skills and foster an environment that helps their employees perform at the highest levels to achieve agency objectives. Whenever that doesn’t happen, we examine the situation carefully and take appropriate action.”
Management issues have recently been a chronic problem at the agency.
In July 2013, the Times reported that while the CIA has a generally low turnover, management issues had driven accomplished CIA personnel from the agency.
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By Elliot Jager