Gay ex-Navy SEAL says CIA troops made him fear for his life after homophobic taunting
A former Navy SEAL who announced he was gay last year said he was harassed to the point where he was concerned for his safety by Central Intelligence Agency contractors while working in Afghanistan, ABC News reported.
“I had to get away from there because by me doing the right thing meant that probably some people were going to end up fired and if they knew I was leaving,” Brett Jones said. “And this is the thing, I couldn’t just report it up the chain of command there because I had no idea who was in on this.”
Jones said he was subjected to homophobic insults while working with Global Response Staff (GRS) troops in June, when a Powerpoint presentation for a routine mission contained slides with phrases like “deploy genital warts,” “cross dresser,” and “Rammers so hot!” among others. His call sign, he said, was also changed to “GAY GAY” and a slide mentioning medical procedures read, “Escorts go to NEVERLAND RANCH and GRS goes to GAYBAR medic.”
“I don’t know what to tell you. It hurts,” Jones said of the experience. “I don’t even like looking at it now. I’ve never in my entire career ever seen anyone do something like this. Ever.”
After the mission, Jones — who revealed that he is gay in February 2014 — said he found racist and homophobic pictures saved on an agency computer. He was worried enough for his wellbeing to record a short video on his cellphone in the event he was killed, believing he could no longer trust his colleagues to watch out for him in the field.
“The reason I’m making this is, in the event that something happens to me, there’s evidence I’m in Afghanistan working as a contractor for the CIA,” Jones said in the video. “I don’t feel it’s very safe for me to be here. I don’t feel like I can work with these guys.”
The video, as posted by ABC News, can be seen below.
Former Navy SEAL Brett Jones says he doesn't feel safe around CIA colleagues after being harassed for his sexuality. //abcn.ws/1IpBHhD
Posted by Brian Ross Investigates on Tuesday, 28 July 2015
Jones subsequently told superiors he had to leave the country because of a family emergency, enabling him to return to the US. He did not report the incidents until after speaking to reporters, though, out of a fear officials would “circle the wagons” instead of addressing his concerns. He described the incidents as outliers in his post-Navy career, telling ABC that he has been able to “defuse” other situations with colleagues and praising the agency as a whole for hiring him after he came out.
“It’s my hope in some way that it makes a change within the organization and not just the GRS program within the CIA, but all special operations units,” he said. “Like Navy SEALs or [Army] Rangers, or any of those, to where these kids that are coming through training and going into their prospective careers can go in there knowing that they’re not going to have to deal with stuff like that.”
An agency spokesperson did not comment on Jones’ allegations, but told ABC News that the agency “take[s] very seriously any allegation of sexual, racial or any other form of harassment and/or discrimination.”