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CIA men censured over high-security smut

Saucy secrets within sick secretive organisation

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The CIA is investigating up to 160 employees for posting "inappropriate" messages to a secret chat room, stored deep in the bowels of the intelligence agency's computer system.

The chat room was invite-only and remained undetected for five years until "routine security checks" located it. Between five and ten employees have been suspended on full pay for six months. Apparently, the people behind the chat room were maverick types (aren't they always?) who have heavy technical knowledge and went to great lengths to hide it from senior management - although some senior managers have been fingered as members.

So what were they discussing? How to destabilise a small country, set up native death squads, order assassinations, take a piece of drug trafficking profit for allowing passage? Don't be daft, you don't need a secret chat room for that in the CIA. No, they were sending smutty jokes and porn. You'd think that murder was more serious than a quick tommy, but what really got up de management's nose was the fact that they didn't know about it. CIA heads are the ultimate control freaks.

Those involved with this "willful misuse of computers" have been given five days to respond to the top nobs - effectively precluding them from getting any legal help because lawyers have to be screened for months - and those found guilty face the boot. Something that the originators seemed only too aware of, judging by posted comments.

Which is all a bit hypocritical when you come to think about it. By managing to conceal a chat room for years within its own organisation, those in charge should be applauded. If they'd done the same thing abroad, they'd be stooping from the weight of their medals. And of course there is the incredible irony of getting fired for making something so secret that no one could find it when former CIA director John Deutch was merely slapped on the wrist for writing top-secret documents on a Net-linked insecure home computer. There's one rule for them and one for us, I tell you. ®

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