Panel plans hearing on bias claims

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Congress will hold a hearing later this summer on employment problems at the National Security Agency and the nation's other intelligence agencies, spurred by allegations of discrimination against women and minorities, as well as charges of retaliation against those who complain.

"The intelligence community, sadly, has an awful record in this area," said Rep. Ronald D. Coleman, a Texas Democrat and member of the House Intelligence Committee. "There is building acrimony among minority and women employees throughout the intelligence community who believe they have been discriminated against for a number of years."

The congressman said the full committee will convene to hear charges of discrimination and plans by intelligence officials to correct problems. The hearing has been set for Sept. 20, said a committee aide.

"I think they ought to be open hearings, I anticipate they will be," the congressman said. "If we can get employees [to testify], I want to do that."

More than 100 women employees at the CIA are considering a class action suit against the agency, saying they have long been discriminated against in promotions, country assignments and spying tasks.

Meanwhile, Mr. Coleman referred to articles in The Sun, quoting black and Hispanic employees who have charged the NSA with discrimination as well as retaliation when they complain.

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