The email to staff members was “simply a reminder of existing policy,” a U.S. official told NBC News.
The warning was issued after the agency’s associate deputy director for analysis posted an image depicting a man waving a Palestinian flag that is sometimes used in commentary critical of Israel.
The Financial Times first reported on the social media post.
The career analyst who posted the image has not been disciplined, a person with knowledge of the situation said. The analyst has “extensive background in all aspects of the Middle East and this post was not intended to express a position on the conflict,” the person said.
The analyst also has posted messages condemning antisemitism, the person added.
A CIA spokesperson said in a statement: “CIA officers are committed to analytic objectivity, which is at the core of what we do as an Agency. CIA officers may have personal views, but this does not lessen their — or CIA’s — commitment to unbiased analysis.”
The social media post and the CIA’s internal admonishment for staff members to stay apolitical comes amid divisions inside the federal government over President Joe Biden’s handling of the Israeli-Hamas war in Gaza.
Hundreds of federal government employees have endorsed an open letter demanding that the Biden administration push for a cease-fire to protect Palestinian civilians. In addition, dozens of staff members at the State Department have questioned the White House’s approach in confidential dissent cables, and hundreds of employees at the U.S. Agency for International Development have backed a letter critical of the administration’s policy.