Congress directs DIA to address its “permissive environment for management abuses” after the Agency’s repeated failures to adequately confront the matter of its own volition.
Last month, the House Intelligence Committee (HPSCI) and Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) introduced into law the FY23 Intelligence Authorization Act (IAA). In it, the committees found:
“The Defense Intelligence Agency has not taken sufficient steps to address an unhealthy culture at the Agency.
In the report of the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence of the House of Representatives accompanying H.R. 5412 of the 117th Congress (H. Rept. 117–156), the Committee mandated several reports and briefings for which the Defense Intelligence Agency failed to respond in a timely manner.
The Agency has committed to improving Agency culture and leadership; however, actions taken to date fall short of addressing the permissive environment for management abuses.”
The bill mandates:
—Exit surveys/interviews for members departing DIA, and
—The Director DIA report every year to Congress on the results of those assessments;
—That Congress have oversight on several aspects of DIA workforce climate surveys, and
—DIA determine the feasibility of 360-degree performance assessments, and that those be used such that…
—DIA perform leadership suitability assessments for those of rank GS-14 and higher.
Read the IAA excerpt here:
The verbiage within the bill outlining remedial measures DIA must undertake came shortly after a March 2022 House Intelligence Committee (HPSCI) hearing on National Security Threats. During the hearing, HPSCI member Representative Jackie Speier directed DIA Director LTG Berrier to report to the Committee on how he was addressing the “egregious behavior” taking place in DIA.
The article which Representative Speier referred to was a February 2022 Wall Street Journal exposé which cited reports of a swath of alleged wrongdoings occurring in DIA.
The WSJ article was authored after a report sent to the DIA Director in July 2021, which cited over 30 witness statements attesting to an array of wrongdoings spanning from reprisal to Intelligence Oversight violations occurring in DIA, went ignored. Whistleblowers then began working with the national news media outlet in order to bring attention to what was occurring in DIA. Shortly thereafter, a climate assessment conducted within DIA in September 2020 was released via the Freedom of Information Act. The report showed a pattern of rampant toxicity, discrimination, and acts of workplace hostility, which went unchecked by DIA leadership, despite the Agency’s self-proclaimed “zero tolerance policy.” In the survey, 29% respondents claimed they were the victim of discrimination, 32% described their workplace as hostile, and an astounding 48% reported they had witnessed hostile acts such as intimidation, bullying or harassment.
Multiple witnesses later reported that the climate assessment was “swept under the rug” by DIA leadership who ignored the reports of significant systemic cultural issues afflicting the Agency. This revelation, along with the report submitted to Congress and the DIA Director on toxicity within the Agency, was the impetus for the publication of the WSJ article. After the publication of the article, an additional 30 witnesses came forward alleging many of the same wrongdoings cited in the July 2021 report. Their statements were compiled in a report sent to Congress and DIA in March 2022. In total, 65 witnesses brought forward 158 allegations of wrongdoing that they had witnessed or were victim to.
To this Foundation’s knowledge, none of the subjects of the allegations were ever held accountable by DIA. It is unknown if the allegations were ever even investigated by the Agency. The victims of the wrongdoings, we can say with certainty, were offered neither restitution nor acknowledgment. The lack of accountability of wrongdoers and acknowledgment of victims conforms to a pattern of behavior identified as DIA’s Toxic Cycle, shown below:
We applaud the members and staff of HPSCI and SSCI for their savvy approach in this endeavor. This bill is the culmination of over two years of work stemming from the contribution of dozens of brave whistleblowers, many of whom still work under the threat of reprisal in the military and DIA. The Agency has shown time and time again that it is unable to intervene in internal systemic issues of its own accord in a timely and just manner. The members of DIA have recognized this for some time; now, our Congress does as well.
The introduction of the IAA is a somber victory. It provides no recompense for the scores of victims of past DIA abuses. As has been the precedent, DIA will likely continue to apathetically concede that wrongdoings occurred and occur within the organization, but will be equally resistant to holding perpetrators accountable or offering recompense or even acknowledgment to victims. In this regard, there are no winners. However, current and future members of DIA will potentially enjoy much-needed protections afforded by this legislation, ideally being able to ultimately work in an environment free from fear of retribution, reprisal, and abuse.
We’d again like to thank to thank the dozens of brave witnesses who stepped up to rid the Agency of the toxic cabal and the abuses they carried out, all to the detriment of DIA personnel, the mission, and national security. You are owed an immense debt of gratitude from your Services and nation. While we are far from complete resolution on this matter, the IAA passage will be a significant step in this critical fight.
We would also like to thank the professionals at the Wall Street Journal who initially brought national attention to toxicity in DIA with the publication of their article in February 2022.
Interested in reading more about the DIA saga? Read more on the Foundation’s endeavor to address toxicity in DIA: Confronting Toxicity in DIA