WASHINGTON (AP) â€” The CIA is investigating 160 of its employees and contract workers for exchanging ``inappropriate'' and off-color messages on a covert ``chat room'' in the spy agency's classified computer network, The Washington Post reported.
The ``misuse of computers'' did not involve ``the compromise of any classified information,'' CIA spokesman Bill Harlow told the newspaper in a story for Sunday editions. ``Investigators uncovered evidence of long-term misuse involving multiple violations of CIA computer regulations.''
Harlow said the chat room, which had been hidden from the agency's management, was uncovered during routine computer security checks.
The Post said all 160 people linked to the communications channel and have been interviewed and ordered to explain their conduct in writing. It said several CIA officials, including members of the high-echelon Senior Executive Service, have been suspended with pay for the last six months while top management decides on their punishment.
``Ther serious thing for us is people willfully misusing the computer system and trying to hide what they were trying to do,'' an unidentified intelligence official told the newspaper. ``If they were doing this with the KGB's system, we'd be giving them medals. Sadly, it was ours.''