The CIA's chief of Iran operations, Jonathan Bank, 46 a veteran of the service, was sent home on paid leave over disarray in his department, US, Russian and Iranian media reported Tuesday, March 18. The department was notified of this step last week at CIA headquarters in Langley, Va. after its members rose up in “open rebellion” against Banks, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Given the high importance and sensitivity of this department, it was most likely Intelligence Director John Brennan in person who delivered the notice.
debkafile’s intelligence sources report that internal crises in US clandestine agencies are normally kept under tight wraps and rarely see the light of day. But with major crises hitting the roof for Washington with the threatened meltdown of relations with Moscow over Ukraine and Crimea, unresolved Mid East issues and the missing Malaysian airliner, John Brennan would have been obliged to step in expeditiously to contain the breakdown of a complete CIA division in “open revolt” against its chief.
Three former officials said the Iran operations division was in “open rebellion” to Bank’s management style and several key employees demanded transfers. Their ultimatum was clear: It’s him or us.
An internal investigation ordered by Brennan found that Jonathan Bank “had created an abusive and hostile work environment that put a crucial division in disarray.”
Therefore, in mid-course of high-powered US-led international nuclear negotiations with Iran, the very department supposed to be feeding President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry with daily briefings, updated to the last minute, on Iran’s nuclear program and its political and military leaderships, was in no state to perform its duties.
"Iran is one of most important targets, and the place was not functioning," one of the former officials said.
This disclosure hangs a big question mark over the assurances Obama and Kerry gave Israel and the Arabian Gulf leaders. They said repeatedly that there was nothing to fear from the US-Iranian rapprochement, because Washington was fully abreast with every move in Iran’s nuclear program and would know in good time if supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei ordered the final step for building a nuclear weapon.
In recent months, Israeli and other Middle East intelligence sources have warned that Iran already possesses all the components, materials and technology for manufacturing a nuclear bomb – and stands ready to go on the order from the ayatollah..
The dysfunctional condition of the CIA Iran division, now disclosed, reduces President Obama’s chances of success in his forthcoming fence-mending visit to Saudi Arabia later this month and hopes of fruitful cooperation between US and Saudi intelligence on Iran and Syria.
Jonathan Bank’s cover was first broken in 2010 when, as CIA station chief in Islamabad, his name was published and he was pulled out after receiving death threats. US officials suspected Pakistan’s intelligence service of leaking his name in protest over CIA drone attacks on Islamist terrorist targets in the country's lawless tribal region.