In his first interview, to be broadcast on Sunday, Feb. 6, on CBS, the former CIA lawyer says he's not a spy and was targeted for investigation because he is a religious Jew.
60 Minutes has been told by current and former intelligence sources that ethnic profiling along the lines alleged by Ciralsky has become a tool used by the nation's spy catchers to root out traitors.
An example of the CIA's ethnic profiling, Ciralsky says, was the agency's creating of what he calls a "Jewish resume." In a background summary of his life, Ciralsky says, the CIA ignored all secular information about him in favor of the religious, mentioning his college minor in Judaic studies but leaving out his international affairs major, and pointing to his Hebrew study while ignoring his Spanish classes.
What's more, says Ciralsky, counterintelligence agents were more interested in his travels to Israel than to China. "I lived in China for a summer," he says. "They could have cared less whether I was associating with known Communists, but they were incredibly concerned about who sold me a falafel sandwich" in Israel.
The CIA denies it is anti-Semitic or uses ethnic profiling. But Ciralsky has threatened to sue the agency, which has suspended him without pay and revoked his security clearance.
The CIA has sought to settle the dispute out of court. But even if he accepts an offer that would exonerate him completely, an indignant Ciralsky is not expecting the spy agency to admit it made a mistake. "I think the lesson here is, counterintelligence is really about never having to say you're sorry," he tells Stahl.