CIA Director William J. Burns said in an internal message that racism and racist symbols would not be tolerated at the agency.
A warning has been issued to employees of the Central Intelligence Agency after what appears to be a noose was found outside a secret space the organization uses somewhere in Virginia.
According to The New York Times, the object was found near a small facility that also houses businesses and other organizations. It is reportedly not clear if the object was meant to be an object of racial intimidation or if the person who left the tied rope was aware the C.I.A. operates out of the building.
The Times notes that agency director William J. Burns warned in an internal message that racism and racist symbols would not be tolerated.
Susan Miller, a spokesperson for the agency, would not elaborate further on Burns’ missive to staffers, only adding, “C.I.A. has zero tolerance for actions or symbols of hatred and treats any such incidents with the utmost seriousness. Our values and our vital national security mission demand that we uphold nothing less than the highest standards of inclusiveness and safety.”
The previous two directors of the organization have actively recruited at HBCUs and other places to diversify its ranks. Just over 12% of civilian employees in the various intelligence agencies are Black, but at their upper levels, African Americans make up only 6.5%.
“The C.I.A. is a microcosm of the populace from which it draws its work force, so it should not surprise anyone who understands the deep-seated racism that has permeated all institutions throughout our history,” Darrell Blocker, former senior C.I.A. official, who is Black, told The Times. The 30-year agency vet said it’s vital for C.I.A. employees to report incidents of discrimination.
“I never experienced anything like that in my almost 17 years there,” said former analyst Preston Golson, who is Black. “There is always the typical things African Americans experience in any workplace, whether it is microaggressions or not being able to express your full self culturally. But it is nothing out of the ordinary from any organization in America.”
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