Marian Leighton worked for the CIA for many years until her security clearance was revoked in 2002 on the ground that she had divulged classified information to a “media person.” The Agency based its action on Ms. Leighton’s alleged statements during a polygraph examination and in other interviews, but she denied that she had either divulged classified information or that she had admitted to doing it. Believing that these charges were trumped up because of her friendship with a critic of the Agency, we agreed to represent her in an administrative appeal, and we persuaded the Agency that no classified information had been disclosed. In November 2003 the CIA restored her high-level security clearance, and in March 2004 she resumed her work there.

In May 2004 we sued the CIA under the Privacy Act, seeking correction of its records and compensation for Ms. Leighton’s lost income. After amending our complaint and surviving a motion to dismiss, we obtained discovery over the CIA’s objections. Ultimately the court reviewed classified portions of our client’s file in camera (for the judge’s eyes only) and in December 2008 concluded that the Agency had not violated her rights under the Privacy Act by maintaining false information in her file. We did not appeal.

Pro Bono Law Firm(s)

Pepper Hamilton LLP

Date filed

July 1, 2003