When former Navy SEAL and current CIA contractor Brett Jones came out as gay last year, he received widespread support from his colleagues. But his latest experience, while deployed in a war zone in Afghanistan, has been a different story.
Jones, assigned through a private company to the CIA's Global Response Staff, experienced antigay, racist, and sexist harassment ever since he arrived in country June 9, he said in interviews with ABC's World News Tonight and the special-operations news website SOFREP.com.
He thought it odd that no one came to pick him up when he arrived, that no one would sit by him in the dining hall, that a bad odor was coming from his supposedly clean sheets. He objected to another contractor's use of the word "faggot." "I guess I thought I was being overly sensitive and I just had to man up a little bit," he told ABC's Brian Ross, whose interview was broadcast Tuesday evening.
Then the incidents escalated. His colleagues wouldn't let him ride in a truck during a vehicle test, so he had to walk in 120-degree heat. Someone stole his encrypted radio, which could have compromised the security of military communications; after he frantically tried to find it, it was returned.
In late June he attended a pre-mission PowerPoint presentation in which the usual slides had been replaced with slides bearing homophobic, racist, and sexist remarks. (Jones is a white male who does not tolerate racist or sexist language.) The slides "referred to Americans as 'Americunts,' their commo plan as 'LGBT,' and actions on contact with the enemy as 'Reverse cowboy/girl, crossdresser, deploy genital warts, and coordinate with anus,'" SOFREP.com reports.
Further, ABC reports, two slides "were directly aimed at him. His radio call sign had been changed to 'Gay Gay' and in a slide meant to discuss medical emergencies, it said, 'Escorts go to NEVERLAND RANCH and GRS goes to GAYBAR medic.'"
He later found slides on a CIA computer that included a racist image targeting President Obama and a photo of an obese man carrying a rainbow flag; Jones believes the latter was meant as an insult to his husband, who is a large man. The harassment led him to believe his colleagues wouldn't have his back when they faced danger -- and that they might endanger him themselves.
"I knew at this point that I had to leave there," he told Ross. He flew back to the U.S. as soon as possible and told the CIA he had found himself in a bad situation. He says both the CIA and his contracting firm, which news reports have not identified, have strong antidiscrimination policies, but the members of his team weren't following them. He's now assisting in a CIA investigation of the matter.
Watch the ABC report below.
ABC US News | World News