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Sex, Lies and Women at the CIA

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You may have seen yesterday’s bombshell story on sexual assaults of CIA women by their male bosses and so-called colleagues, which opened with a vivid, stomach-turning account of a woman accosted by a male officer trainee—a trainee!—in a stairwell at headquarters. In a very rare instance of a case emerging from the veil of CIA secrecy, Ashkan Bayatpour was arrested, prosecuted and convicted on a Virginia state misdemeanor charge of assault and battery, the A.P. reported. Many others have escaped justice, aided by the CIA.

Ashkan Bayatpour in court

“At least two-dozen women have come forward in recent months with their own complaints of abusive treatment within the CIA, telling authorities and Congress not only about sexual assaults, unwanted touching and coercion but of what they contend is a campaign by the spy agency to keep them from speaking out, with dire warnings it could wreck their careers and even endanger national security,” wrote AP reporters Jim Mustian and Joshua Goodwin. It’s an extraordinary—and upsetting—story.

As it turns out, we had already invited former CIA operations officer Laura Thomas to come on the SpyTalk podcast this week. Our interest was prompted by a piece she wrote recently on her Substack page entitled, “Espionage is a Man’s World: Sex, Lies and the CIA.” Timely, eh?

Laura Thomas (Out in National Security photo)

Do give it a listen—here on Apple, or wherever you usually listen to podcasts. And we’d love to hear back from you about it.

Until then, have a great late August weekend. We will—it’s the third anniversary of our launch in 2020. Hooray!

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