- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 5, 2006


A member of the CIA’s first post-September 11 class is claiming in a federal lawsuit that the agency violated his First Amendment rights by ordering dozens of deletions in his book about spy training after initial approval.

T.J. Waters was among those chosen from more than 150,000 who submitted their resumes to the CIA, hoping to contribute personally to the U.S. government’s counterterror operations. He worked for the agency from 2002 to 2004, going through training for the clandestine service but ultimately joining the CIA’s intelligence analysis division for a brief time.

Mr. Waters’ book — “Class 11: Inside the CIA’s First Post-9/11 Spy Class” — chronicles his year at the CIA’s training facility, where recruits learn how to use disguises, how to withstand interrogation techniques and other spycraft.

Known as “The Farm,” the center’s precise location, near Williamsburg, Va., remains classified.

Mr. Waters said his class of more than 100 included a New York comedian, an executive chef, a professional athlete and the fiancee of a World Trade Center victim.

The story, he said, puts their training in the context of world events: the sniper shootings in Washington in 2002, the Columbia shuttle disaster in 2003 and the dire warnings from the Homeland Security Department to buy plastic and duct tape.

Older and more professionally experienced than the CIA’s typical recruits, his classmates later were dispatched to Baghdad, post-tsunami Indonesia and other locales.

“It is good for people to understand that these are normal human beings who are trying to do a hard job under extraordinary circumstances,” Mr. Waters said Saturday evening.

Current and former CIA employees are allowed to publish books, but they first must be cleared by a special review board to ensure they don’t contain classified information.

Mr. Waters said he thinks CIA Director Porter J. Goss opposes agency personnel’s writing books and has put the publications review staff under pressure to slow the process.

CIA spokeswoman Jennifer Dyck said the director is not seeking delays in the reviews. She said the prepublication review board exists to ensure that classified information is protected.

“All former employees must go through this process,” she said. “The goal is to clear manuscripts as quickly as possible, but more complex books that get into classified details do take longer.”

Mr. Goss has indicated he wants to get back to the agency’s more clandestine roots. “We remain a secret agency,” he told employees in a memo made public.

Mr. Waters is going through the established publication process. His attorney, Mark Zaid, said Mr. Waters submitted his book to the agency in May 2004 and, by September 2004, four words were blocked from publication. He resubmitted changes for a final review about two months later.

But last month, after more than a year of waiting, the agency informed him that dozens of deletions would be required — many of them blocking previously cleared material.

Mr. Waters charges in a federal lawsuit filed Friday that the agency violated its own guidelines, which establish a 30-day review for manuscripts, and his right to free speech.

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