The head of analysis at the CIA has stirred up controversy by updating her Facebook cover photo to a Palestinian flag. This comes amidst increasing disagreements within the Biden administration regarding its approach to the Israel-Hamas conflict.
The assistant deputy director for analysis, one of the trio in charge of authorising all internal agency analysis, changed her profile picture a fortnight following the assault on 7 October by Hamas and its allies, an attack that resulted in 1,200 fatalities and 240 hostages.
According to the Financial Times, she shared a selfie featuring the phrase "Free Palestine." A coworker noted that the leader has also shared posts condemning antisemitism in the past.
A former intelligence official conveyed to the newspaper that a senior analytic manager displayed strikingly bad decision-making amidst a crisis by openly sharing a clearly contentious political statement.
A previous official stated that the social media behavior was quite unusual for a high-ranking agency representative, considering the historically very intimate connection between the CIA and the Israelis.
The head's Facebook update arrives amidst escalating demands from the Biden administration's own personnel for an urgent cessation of hostilities in Gaza.
Earlier this month, over 400 administrative staff members anonymously penned a letter urging the President to insist on an end to the violence. This plea was echoed by an additional 1,000 personnel from the US Agency for International Development.
Rather than taking punitive measures against those who disagree, the State Department has instead set up 'listening sessions' with its staff to gain insight into their perspectives and suggestions.
In a recent letter to his team, Secretary of State Anthony Blinken expressed his understanding of the deep personal impact the ongoing crisis is having on many of them. He acknowledged the distress caused by the daily sight of infants, children, seniors, women, and other civilians in distress. Blinken admitted that he, too, is deeply affected by the situation.
Biden has consistently declined to call for a ceasefire, opting instead to back a succession of temporary truces that have been negotiated in return for the liberation of a number of hostages.
Bill Burns, the director of the CIA, is presently in Qatar participating in hostage negotiations. There are concerns from critics that a Facebook post from his chief analyst could potentially jeopardize his efforts.
"The participation of Director Burns in the current crisis in Israel combined with such social media behavior from a high-ranking US intelligence officer demonstrates an astonishingly poor decision-making," stated another ex-intelligence official.
The officer, possessing a comprehensive background in all facets of the Middle East as a career analyst, did not intend for this post to communicate a stance on the conflict, they further elaborated.
Nishtha Anushree is Senior Sub-editor at Swarajya. She tweets at @nishthaanushree.
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