Thank You For Submiting Feedback!
Even in the absence of an express agreement, the Central Intelligence Agency can act to protect substantial government interests by imposing reasonable restrictions on employee activities that in other contexts might be protected by the First Amendment. The government has a compelling interest in protecting both the secrecy of information important to our national security and the appearance of confidentiality so essential to the effective operation of our foreign intelligence service.
As an express condition of employment with the Central Intelligence Agency, an individual executed an agreement promising that he would "not … publish … any information or material relating to the Agency, its activities or intelligence activities generally, either during or after the term of [his] employment … without specific prior approval of the Agency." Based on his experiences as an agent for the Agency, the individual published a book about certain Agency activities without submitting the account to the Agency for prepublication review. The United States brought an action to enforce the agreement in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, seeking a declaration that the agent had breached the contract, an injunction requiring the agent to submit future writings for prepublication review, and an order imposing a constructive trust for the government's benefit on all profits that the agent might earn from publishing the book in violation of his fiduciary obligations to the Agency. The District Court, finding that the agent had breached his position of trust with the Agency by publishing the book without submitting it for prepublication review, that the agent had deliberately misled Agency officials into believing that he would submit the book for prepublication clearance, and that publication of the book had caused the United States irreparable harm and loss, enjoined future breaches of the agreement and imposed a constructive trust on the agent's profits. On appeal, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit agreed that the agent had breached a valid contract, but concluded that the record did not support imposition of a constructive trust, the agent's fiduciary obligation extending only to preserving the confidentiality of classified material.
Was the ex-CIA agent's publication of book about CIA without CIA approval, a breach of agent's fiduciary obligation arising from employment agreement, warranting impression of constructive trust on profits from book?
The court held that the agreement petitioner signed was valid and enforceable to ensure the protection and defense of the United States. The court also held that a constructive trust over all future profits gained by petitioner was permissible.