Friday, June 27, 2008

FBI = Familar Backlash In-Progress

The Washington Times has reported that a bipartisan group of U.S. Congressmen has demanded the FBI explain its apparent retaliation against Bassem Youseff, the agent who testified before Congress last May 22 about the FBI's failure to fill 2 out of every 5 positions in a critical counterterrorism division. See the story here: Whistleblower retaliation suspected.

Key quotes from the story:

A senior Republican senator and two Democratic congressmen want the FBI to investigate suspected retaliation against an agent who told a House subcommittee that a third of the leadership positions in an elite FBI division that tracks al Qaeda terrorists are vacant.

Sen. Charles E. Grassley of Iowa, ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee; Rep. John Conyers Jr. of Michigan, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee; and Rep. Robert C. Scott of Virginia told FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III in a letter that the bureau "wasted no time in taking action against" Agent Bassem Youssef following his May 21 testimony before the House Judiciary subcommittee on crime, terrorism and homeland security.

From the Congressmen's letter:

"Just two days after the subcommittee´s hearing, we understand that Agent Youssef was informed by his supervisor that unknown accusers had claimed he violated various FBI rules and regulations" ...... "In particular, one anonymous claim was that he traveled to London on official business without having obtained the required 'country clearance.'"

The Times story also quoted this non-responsive response from the FBI spokesman:

FBI spokesman Bill Carter on Wednesday said the bureau had received the lawmakers' letter and that it was being reviewed for an "appropriate response to the members of Congress."

I love that word "appropriate." As in, something suitable or fitting to the occasion. Responding to allegations of retaliation is merely a matter of protocol as far as the FBI is concerned. It's not like there is anything in this Congressional letter to get upset about. Basically: yeah, Congressmen, we have some guy thinking up a response that would be "appropriate" to your concerns, and we'll let you know when we've got it ready.

At least the FBI spokesman didn't pretend to find the allegations impossible to believe, and for good reason. Bassem Youseff is far from the first FBI agent to receive this sort of treatment from his superiors. He follows in a long line of FBI employees who were punished after going public with serious problems that the Bureau had failed to redress internally. Do a Google search on Special Agent(s) Fred Whitehurst, Colleen Rowley, Sibel Edmonds, Mike German, John Roberts, Jane Turner, Robert Wright and Gilbert Graham, for some examples of retaliation against past whistleblowers.

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