Pro-Palestine Facebook post sparks CIA warning

The incident illustrates the deep divisions that the war in Gaza has opened up within US government institutions.

The seal of the Central Intelligence Agency is shown at the entrance of the CIA headquarters in McLean, Virginia, U.S., September 24, 2022. REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein
The seal of the CIA is shown at the entrance of the agency's headquarters in McLean, Virginia [Evelyn Hockstein/Reuters]

The CIA has stressed to its officers that they should refrain from political statements on social media after one of its top officers shared a pro-Palestinian photo on Facebook.

The intelligence agency’s associate deputy director for analysis changed their Facebook cover photo to a man waving a Palestinian flag on October 21, two weeks after Israel launched an all-out offensive against Palestinian group Hamas, the Financial Times reported.

The officer reportedly deleted the post, along with another previously shared image with the words “Free Palestine”, after being contacted by the media.

The agency has since sent out an internal memo reiterating its policy against political messaging on social media, NBC News reported.

The CIA is the US’s top foreign intelligence agency, responsible for delivering intelligence and analysis to the president.

The official at the centre of the recent social media incident previously led the development of a top-secret document titled the President’s Daily Brief, the Financial Times reported.

Posting politically charged content on social media is highly unusual for officials with such sensitive intelligence roles.

Deep divisions

The social media post from the senior CIA officer underlines deep divisions within the US government over President Joe Biden’s handling of the Israel-Hamas war, which has killed some 15,000 Palestinians and left much of the besieged Gaza Strip in ruins.

While Biden has offered staunch backing to Israel’s government, despite the mounting death toll, hundreds of government officials and former campaign staffers have signed open letters urging him to lobby for a ceasefire to protect Palestinians.

The social media incident also comes after other US government officials faced backlash for their public comments about the Gaza war.

Last week, a former US State Department official was arrested after videos of him harassing a halal food vendor in New York and calling for more Palestinian children to die went viral on social media.

Source: Al Jazeera