Thursday, October 07, 2004

FBI Audit Leaves Vital Questions Unanswered

Latest Sibel Edmonds

Homeland Security whistleblower removed for exposing terrorist threats

FBI's backlog is overstated

The link shows an Article in USATODAY that shows how a PR person working for the FBI is earning her pay.

Getting Junior's Goat

911 Related; John Gray and Saudi Genesis

You Call That a Major Policy Address?

Special Agent Jane Turner

Cover Story · · Vol 25 · Issue 1244 · PUBLISHED 10/6/04

Special Agent Jane Turner vs. The FBI

Before Coleen Rowley, another whistleblower rose from the ranks of the Minneapolis FBI division. Retired agent Jane Turner talks at length for the first time about the Bureau's good old boy management culture--and how it goes about silencing its internal critics.

by Steve Perry

Introduction: The Making of a Whistleblower

WHEN JANE TURNER LEFT THE BUILDING ON HER last day of active duty at the FBI--November 21, 2002--several of her colleagues turned out for the occasion. It was the end of a distinguished 24-year career in which Turner went places that few, if any, women in the Bureau had gone before her: criminal psych profiler, New York organized crime squad member, senior resident agent in Indian country. Some fellow agents were on hand for her big day, she recalls, along with members of the clerical staff.

And the special agent in charge, the boss of the Minneapolis FBI office--Deborah Strebel Pierce, the division's first female SAC--she was there, too. In fact, Pierce's attendance was obligatory. As SAC, she held the responsibility of removing from the premises any agent who was being terminated.

For more than four years, Turner had waged a quiet and increasingly isolated battle to address what she saw as troubles at the FBI, ranging from job discrimination toward female agents to malfeasance in the handling of numerous cases. She had taken her complaints, and the corresponding evidence, up the chain of command all the way to then-Director Louis Freeh's office. In response, claims Turner, the Bureau waged a campaign to undermine her reputation, suppress evidence of its own wrongdoing, and drive her out.

When Turner was escorted to the parking garage on that last day to remove any personal items from her Bureau car, the last step prior to her being turned out on the street, she found a number of co-workers milling around the area, apparently tipped to the chance to see Jane Turner get hers at last.

IT WAS HARDLY THE ENDING SHE envisioned back in 1978, when the 27-year-old Turner became part of the first generation of women to enter the FBI training academy. "In those days the Bureau still counted, literally, the women and minorities in the academy classes," she says. "I was woman number 100-and-something, and I remember I was in class with Native American number six."

Turner first contacted City Pages last spring. She phoned to say she had liked a piece I wrote about Karl Rove, and that I might find interesting her own tales about the abuse of official power. We met a couple of times over the summer to discuss the details of her claims. She was right: It was a good story--the first time, to my knowledge, that an FBI whistleblower had sat down to discuss not just his or her specific allegations but the larger culture of the Bureau and the way it goes about purging its own when they turn critical.

Why hadn't she taken it to the daily papers? I asked her one day.

"They weren't interested," she laughed. "That's all I know for sure, but I mean, the Star Tribune has excellent access to people in this FBI office. I'm sure they understand that they would find themselves cut off if they published some big story about my case." She tapped a nail on the glass enclosing her now-framed badge and FBI credentials. "Never underestimate," she added, "the power of the creds."

The FBI that Turner entered in the late '70s was just six years removed from the age of J. Edgar Hoover, the director-for-life who raised the agency to a law unto itself--master of politicians' secrets and self-anointed hellhound on the trail of America's deviants and dissenters, be they purported Red spies or civil rights agitators. The historical picture of Hoover's near-50-year reign that has coalesced in the generation since his death yields two consistent themes: the director's unsurpassed prowess as a bureaucratic in-fighter, and his absolute obsession with promoting his own image and that of the Bureau, which were after all synonymous. Hoover managed appearances and kept them starkly at odds with reality when necessary, with a zeal and ruthlessness that perhaps only a man like himself--a gay, cross-dressing paragon of patrician authority--could have grasped, much less mustered. During his time and afterward, one institutional imperative trumped all others. The FBI's reputation for being everywhere, and doing its job infallibly, was to be sustained at any cost.

This was the canon that Jane Turner and the other FBI whistleblowers--a group that presently numbers around half a dozen; all of them within the past decade, two of them from the Bureau's Minneapolis division--violated most grievously by their actions. In Turner's case, the irony was palpable: It was precisely her faith in the Bureau's motto of "Fidelity, Bravery, Integrity" that made her so slow to fathom how her efforts were being received by management. She told herself that her troubles were all a misunderstanding that someone in the FBI chain of command would rectify in the end. Only a true believer could have failed to see so much writing on the wall, she agrees now. "What was stunning to me," she says, "was that my beloved FBI put me in a situation where I had to choose between the Bureau, which I loved, and doing the right thing. It would have been simpler for everyone involved to address the problems."

TURNER'S FIRST FIELD POSTING after the academy took her to the Seattle division, where she entered the career management program and continued her studies in the then-emerging specialty of psychological profiling. She participated in the pursuit and arrest of the spy Christopher Boyce, a case later made famous by Robert Lindsay's book The Flight of the Falcon and a feature film starring Sean Penn and Tim Hutton. (The Boyce case is significant because years later, the FBI, in its efforts to discredit Turner, would cite her story of being present at the Boyce arrest as evidence of a personality disorder marked by fabrication and grandiosity--even though she possesses a letter of commendation from then-Attorney General William French Smith, and her role is documented in the Lindsay book.)

After four years, Turner was transferred to a bigger field office in accordance with FBI policy. Turner drew New York City, where she became one of the first women to work the drug squad and the organized crime unit. She taught profiling to local police and worked such high-profile cases as the Chambers/Levin "Central Park preppie" murder and the New York state abortion clinic bombings. Then, in 1987, Turner applied for and won a senior resident agent position at the FBI's Minot, North Dakota, outpost, working the Fort Berthold and Turtle Mountain reservations. (Her first supervisor, Turner says, referred to the agents in North Dakota as his "Indian fighters.") Turner liked the notion of being the first woman SRA to work the reservations. A native of Rapid City, South Dakota, Turner knew the culture of the area. She set about building liaisons to local law enforcement and officials of tribal government--several of whom would later call her the finest FBI agent ever to work the region.

She came to take a special interest in child sex abuse cases on the reservations, which arose with distressing frequency and rarely got investigated. She began to pursue those cases aggressively and found that her bosses were by and large uninterested. She says that her superiors failed to execute a child pornography search warrant in one case, and her fellow agents sometimes refused to answer calls from the reservation concerning child abuse. Turner complained repeatedly to her bosses about these lapses, and about other alleged misconduct by her fellow agents. In turn her colleagues began to whisper and fret about Turner. She had "gone native," they feared--had come to care more about the people she encountered every day than she did about the Bureau.

Her career as a whistleblower began formally in June 1998, when she filed an employment discrimination complaint after learning that she and other women agents were receiving consistently lower performance ratings than the male agents in the office, some of whom the women agents were outperforming statistically. Relations with her bosses and colleagues grew worse in the fall of 1999, when she took her claims of malfeasance in the Minot office up the chain of command to the SAC of the Minneapolis division and to officials at FBI headquarters in Washington.

TURNER DID NOT HAVE TO WAIT long for action on her complaints. In December 1999, the FBI launched two separate investigations--of Jane Turner. Her bosses instigated a full field investigation to look for infractions in the way she did her job, and a national security background check. Both failed to turn up any dirt. The security check in particular was an gratuitous gesture toward an agent working reservation lands. (As Turner puts it, "There are very few national security interests on an Indian reservation that I've discovered.") Unbeknownst to her at the time, the SAC had also requested that she be subjected to a psychological Fitness For Duty evaluation. On that first try, the request was denied for lack of any evident grounds.

Nine days before Christmas that year, the SAC phoned Turner to notify her that she was being transferred to the Minneapolis office to apply her expertise in child abuse cases at division HQ. Without informing Turner, he had also filed paperwork that characterized her Minot performance as "ineffective and inefficient."

Turner reported for duty in Minneapolis in May 2000. "When I got there," she remembers, "they simply seated me in an area that isolated me, and people told me they had been warned to stay away from me. I wasn't really given any work. I had no contacts down here. I was frozen out. That's when I started realizing there was more going on than I was aware of."

Turner proceeded to tackle the job she was ostensibly transferred to do. "I reached out to Patty Wetterling," she says, "and we began working on an Amber Alert system. We had that pretty well going, and I hooked up with some other missing-children organizations and developed some excellent sources. I opened some good cases." On February 6, 2001, Turner was escorted from the building and placed on administrative leave pending a Fitness For Duty evaluation. "You've had a wonderful career," Turner says the SAC told her, "but it's over."

After the FFD examination, and nearly a year's legal wrangling, Turner was restored to active duty on January 13, 2002. In reviewing the files of cases involved in her complaints, Turner says she found certain key documents missing. She promptly retrieved copies of the missing paperwork from her own files and presented them to FBI management.

Once again Turner found herself outside the loop, working a token caseload that included little of any note. In February 2002, her supervisor forwarded Turner a minor case involving the alleged theft of items recovered from the ruins of the World Trade Center by employees of a Twin Cities-based private contractor hired to assist in the cleanup. "I don't anticipate we will do anything," he wrote, "but we will respond to [the FBI field office in] New York as requested." Turner launched an investigation of the company, during the course of which she came to believe that the Bureau's investigation might be compromised by its relationship with a retired FBI agent employed by the firm as a private investigator.

The terminal phase of Turner's long battle with management began that summer, when she noticed a striking Tiffany crystal globe on the desk of a Minneapolis division secretary. Where had she gotten it? Turner asked. It was a Ground Zero souvenir, the secretary explained, given to her by a member of the FBI's own recovery team.

Turner informed her supervisor. Two weeks later, with the globe still sitting on the same desk, Turner and an agent from the Federal Emergency Management Agency bagged and tagged it as evidence and flew to Washington, D.C., to present it to the Justice Department's Office of Inspector General.

A month later, Turner was suspended for the second and last time, pending proceedings to fire her. Her supervisor wrote on her final performance review, "SA Turner does not meet expectations... She has tarnished the FBI's reputation with FEMA and USAO [the U.S. Attorney's office] by telling them the MP [Minneapolis] FBI office is corrupt and leaks information."

But if Turner was gone, she was hardly forgotten. Some months later, she received an anonymous letter, apparently from someone at the local FBI division, indicating that she had become a poster child for the wrath of management: During the 2002 office Christmas party, "your picture was displayed on the overhead screen in front of the entire division, while [an office staffer] made negative remarks about you... The SAC and others have made numerous negative public remarks about you... Your photograph has been displayed to the division with jokes made on more than one occasion..."

"They used me to teach a lesson to anyone else who might ever think of stepping out of line," Turner says now.

After another 12 months of legal machinations, Turner formally retired from the FBI a year ago this month. Now 53, she is pursuing multiple lawsuits against her former employers on grounds that include job discrimination, violation of her privacy, and violations of the federal Whistleblower Protection Act. Last month, as this story was being written, one of Turner's suits was dismissed by a local U.S. District Court judge on the grounds that the FBI had already performed an "independent and objective" evaluation of her claims. Turner, who says the FBI report in question contains demonstrable falsehoods about her, plans to appeal the ruling. "This is not the first nor the last time," she says pointedly, "that the FBI has provided the judicial system with documents that they manufactured and knew to be false."

(The Minneapolis FBI office, asked to comment on the claims in Turner's lawsuits, had not done so by the time this story went to press.)

City Pages: You were working in the Minot office when you began voicing criticisms to management about how the FBI did things. What were the cases in point?

Jane Turner: The very first thing was an EEO [Equal Employment Opportunity, or job discrimination] complaint when I saw that there was a pre-selection of management positions in the FBI, and that there was a pattern of lower performance ratings for female agents out in Indian country, even though the female agents' work was sometimes superior to that of the males. We seemed to be handling a disproportionate amount of sexual crimes--child abuse, rape, things like that. So it was almost like we were being punished for handling some of the hardest, most distasteful crimes in our division.

I demanded a certain standard of investigatory procedure among other FBI agents in these cases of sexually abused children on Indian reservations. As SRA, I had certain duties in that particular territory for two Indian reservations, Fort Berthold and Turtle Mountain. I had the expertise and the background to create and run successful programs and get convictions of offenders in child sex abuse cases. I saw that some of my fellow FBI agents did not have the expertise, the enthusiasm, or the desire to pursue those cases, and in fact were closing or not responding to some child sex abuse situations.

There was one case that was formally closed by the investigating agent even though it absolutely made no sense. I had run across situations like this more than once. Agents didn't feel these cases were worth their time. I also got a sense they felt that those victims were not worthy of service.

CP: When did you begin to go toe-to-toe with your bosses about their handling of certain cases?

Turner: It was shortly after I reopened and successfully investigated that closed child abuse case I mentioned. Until we closed that case, for a period of several months, the three-year-old victim had been placed back into the perpetrator's household and allowed to remain there with someone who had inflicted terrible rectal injuries on him. That, to me, is totally unacceptable and morally indefensible.

I brought my superiors all the information and corroboration that this case had been closed based on a declination from a federal attorney who had been told [by an FBI agent] that the injuries were suffered in a car accident. I brought corroboration that it was actually sexual abuse by a family member, and corroboration that the interviews allegedly obtained by the agent were false. I brought that all to the attention of management, and their response was to paint me as a whistleblower and to try to protect the reputation of the FBI. It was a duck-and-cover. The actual declination letter disappeared from the file. It was removed by somebody. So management could say the case had never been closed, and therefore there was no malfeasance. They obstructed justice. That was their answer to my concerns.

CP: So it was very much a "kill the messenger" culture.

Turner: Oh, definitely. In the FBI we have a history of that. Fred Whitehurst, who blew the whistle on the lab problems, John Roberts, who blew the whistle on the inequality of discipline or accountability for FBI management members--there's a long list of people who have attempted to blow the whistle and were absolutely destroyed. In my case, they rewrote personnel details, such as the arrest of Christopher Boyce. They said I was delusional, because I was never really there.

In 1999, I got in contact with the director of the FBI and other highly placed FBI personnel. That seemed to put the nail in my coffin, because the contacts I made--with the director, with Thomas Pickard and others in OPR--were immediately routed back to the very people I had lodged the original complaints against. It all resulted in more retaliation and retribution. The more I pushed, the more the retaliation escalated. It resulted in a forced transfer, a national security background check, a Fitness For Duty, just a whole series of punitive things. A gradual ratcheting down of performance ratings, when I had statistics that were not only as good as those of others, but higher.

They rewrite what they want to rewrite. They deny what they want to deny. They distort what they want to distort. It's what my mom calls the Golden Rule: He with the gold rules. And the Bureau has all the power. In my case, they used it in a criminal manner.

CP: Did you understand from the start that there was a backlash from management, or were you behind the curve in seeing that?

Turner: I was behind the curve at all times. There were documents being filed that I had no clue about. The forced transfer was a bolt out of the blue. I was called right before Christmas and told, You're going to report down here. I'd just purchased a house. That was a real hard shot. And then there were these documents filed with FBI HQ, which I subsequently got under civil suit--it turns out that false documents had been filed [about me], documents known to be untrue. So it was a vicious attempt to discredit me and destroy my reputation by misusing the process. And they did. Management utilized Bureau resources and manpower to try to neutralize me and my accusations.

But I still didn't see it even when I was transferred, because I was brought down under the premise that [the Minneapolis office] needed me to run their crimes-against-children program. That was my expertise and I'd done very well up there. Meanwhile there was all this paperwork being sent to headquarters saying, You know, she's not performing, or she did this and this--and it wasn't true.

I was totally unaware that all this stuff was going on. The Fitness For Duty, totally unaware that was being filed. Nobody ever talked to me about these concerns. They told me that they needed me down here, not that it was a matter of performance issues or anything that was wrong up there.

CP: So when you got to Minneapolis and saw that you were being ostracized by your new colleagues, what did you make of it?

Turner: I thought it was a misunderstanding, and that as soon as they looked at all this documentation, right would prevail. I figured all along the way, when I was talking to Pickard and Louis Freeh and my own SAC and supervisor and saying, there's possible obstruction of justice, there's theft of property--I kept thinking, one of these days someone is going to shake my hand and say, you held to your oath and you made the Bureau a better place.

The only time someone took my hand was to lead me out the door and slam it behind me.

CP: Besides shunning casual contact with you, and the eventual Fitness For Duty evaluation, what else did management do to let you know you were unwelcome?

Turner: Everything I did was wrong. Everything. They would take reports that I wrote and dissect them, change the words. Which is highly insulting to an FBI agent, because they weren't there at the interview. They started turning all my paper back, saying it wasn't complete. That's what is known in the Bureau as "death by a thousand paper cuts." It's a phenomenon everyone was aware of. I'd never been the recipient of it before. It was very painful. You have to redo everything. It would get to the point where I'd say, listen, if you change this interview any more, you have to put your name on the bottom and testify to it in court. Because I can't.

I also found out that they were going behind me and contacting people, saying, how was your contact with SA Turner? Obviously searching for any information they could get. It was horrific. I was meeting with some very influential people to draw support for the Amber Alert and other things that could have made a difference in the crimes against children program. They would call up people I was involved with and start asking questions about my behavior, what we talked about, which cast me in a very bad light.

CP: You've said that, in retrospect, you managed to stay naive about the politics of the Bureau for an awfully long time. How do you think that happened?

Turner: It wasn't that I had no awareness of politics, or anything else. I'm a student of human behavior. I'm aware of human motivations. I could see where there was senior management who were motivated by their own selfish interests: getting ahead, getting monetary awards, whatever. That is true in any profession. That is true at this newspaper. There are people everywhere who have selfish motives.

But I saw the Bureau itself as a concept that was legitimate and pure. It's kind of like the Catholic Church, and a lot of FBI agents like to say that the Bureau is a calling, not a career. They feel very strongly. The Catholic Church and the FBI are both very strong into paternal values and paternal power. There's a cultural identity in each case that doesn't share power freely with anyone who's not of a certain gender. There's also, I think, a certain aspect of feeling chosen, special. Our title, in fact, is "special agents." Of course we're special. We're doing God's work.

There are several FBI agents I've run into in my career who believe that. And I certainly believe that I was "to the Bureau born," as they say. It's almost like joining a religious community. There's a pretty closed culture, and there's certain expectations, and you take a vow that sets you apart. It's not so different from the Church in some respects.

I certainly have run across several senior managers whose whole goal has been self-enrichment, and to protect the Bureau at any cost. We've had a string of occurrences--Waco, Ruby Ridge, certainly my situation--where it can be seen that the persona of the Bureau is more important than truth, justice, and the American way.

What has been missing from the FBI is accountability. Senior management is not held accountable. And over a period of years there is this culture that has arisen in which you're safe from ever doing anything if you're a manager. Ruby Ridge, Waco, a series of other things--you just never have to say you're sorry when you're in the FBI. That word does not exist in the FBI.

In this case that was closed as a car accident, I told one of the bosses, What we need to do is to apologize and move on. We need to tell them we screwed up, do it the right way, and move on. He said, If you're waiting for the FBI to apologize, it's not going to happen.

Another part of being an agent is that you get to hide behind the Bureau. Your name never comes out. That's part of the accountability issue, too. It's always "The FBI stated" or "The FBI declined comment." You know you have that shield.

It's the culture. Over time, it's such a small pond, senior management, that they all know each other. And they know how to survive. They're dealing in matters of life and death. And if you never can say you're sorry, and never can say you made a mistake, what does that leave you? You simply have to join this group that makes these big decisions and doesn't want to be accountable if they go bad. It's the only way you can survive.

Built into the FBI is that you can rise, do your whole career and collect your paycheck, and never do anything if you don't want to. It is a very lucrative job at the senior management level. Nobody is willing to risk such a lucrative position. They frequently get big bonuses--and some of them have done, if anything, a C-grade job. They'll get a huge bonus that comes out of Washington, and some of that is just for not having any problems occur on your watch.

So everything is based on, Were there any problems? Everybody is reluctant to get involved in problems. Just holding the status quo is the thing. As long as there is nothing adverse, we can still cling to the concept that we're everywhere and we do everything, and we do it perfectly. Because there's nothing to dispute that, is there? If you can just hold to that status quo, that seems good.

CP: As a profiler, say a little more about how the management program works, and give me a thumbnail profile of the sort of person who thrives in it.

Turner: As it stood when I was there--and I don't think it's changed--the Bureau could move you anytime, any place. Which is fine. When you sign on, you know that. Going into the management program means going to a series of different postings as you work your way through: supervisor, ASAC, and so on. And you have to go back to [work at] FBI HQ, sometimes twice. And then, for the inspections, you're out on the road a lot.

It's difficult. It forces you to choose between the Bureau and your family in some cases. I had an old SAC say to me one time, I put everything on the line for the Bureau. My wife divorced me, my kids won't talk to me, and it wasn't worth it. As you watch the management program work, you begin to understand that the Bureau demands total fidelity. So oftentimes what you get is people who put the Bureau before their own families.

They make the kind of managers to whom defending the Bureau is everything, because to them the Bureau is everything. They've sacrificed everything for it. And truth suffers as a result. Because it's such a cold-blooded position, anything around you is subject to being sacrificed as well, whether it's your employees, your wife, your kids, whatever. Everything is expendable.

That's why a lot of agents stay grunt agents. The type of personality you get in [management] often has allegiance to no one except themselves.

CP: Do you think the veil of secrecy around the FBI serves to encourage corruption and inaction?

Turner: Well, certainly there's no watchdog. At least at the time that this happened. Because of documented abuses, they have now put the Department of Justice Inspector General [in charge.] But when I started my whole thing, our internal watchdog, which was the Office of Professional Responsibility, was responsible for doing this. But unfortunately, a lot of the senior management has come through OPR, and they all know each other. And here again, it's quite a cozy relationship. Sometimes it's, You watch my back and I'll watch yours. I may save you when I'm in OPR, and when I go out in the field to be an SAC, you may be in OPR and save me. So they protect each other, and that's true of any law enforcement. It's part of that insular nature, us against them. And I think our senior management take it to an even higher level.

CP: When did you realize, or accept, that your own situation was not going to turn out happily?

Turner: Until I retired out on Halloween of last year, up until that day, I always expected somebody to say, You know, Jane, this has really been unfair. We're going to fix this culture.

I'm very disappointed in our director, because I kept waiting for him to call our senior management in Minneapolis and say, She's a whistleblower who's talked to Senators Leahy and Grassley, and you really need to climb off of her.

But it's our director. Values are established from the top. So if we get the impression from the top that the Bureau can get away with anything, chances are good your senior management is going to get away with a lot. If it comes from the top, don't be engaging in criminal activity, don't be doing things that are wrong, agents will suck it up and not do that kind of behavior. This director has said, "I will not tolerate retaliation against whistleblowers." But every single whistleblower, definitely including me, has suffered under this director. He's talked the talk and done nothing else.

CP: During these years from 1999 to 2002, were you ever offered the chance to come back into the fold?

Turner: I was brought down here in 2000, allegedly to work on the crimes against children program. I was told at that time that if I dropped my pressure on all these issues, just stopped pushing, I could get a transfer I had requested once before. He said to me, I know you want to get down to Rochester. If you drop this, I'll get you down there within a year. I could have a posting I really wanted, doing profiling research with some of the people at the federal medical center prison there. I had initiated some research with Quantico earlier. I wanted to do that very badly.

I went home and considered it. I knew I was in a world of hurt, because the attitude in the office was so negative toward me, like I had betrayed the family. I really wanted to get back in the family. I had crossed that thin purple line, and I wanted to come back. I wanted to go to lunch with my fellow agents. I wanted to get those awards I used to get, and the high ratings. But then I thought, if I don't speak up for those kids up there, and if I don't speak up for the kids down here, if I don't pursue the fact that they are worthy of service from the FBI, then how can I find honor in my career?

I came back and said I couldn't do it. Fireballs came down. My life was hell.

My supervisor brought me in and told me the senior management hated me. He made me cry. He had me in his office for three hours while he told me everything, called me everything, denigrated me, said nobody likes me. He said, the front office [in Minneapolis] feels you are "evil." He said it was not a performance issue, it was a management issue. And after about two and a half hours, I started to cry. And I said, Okay, I give up. I want back in.

He said, It may be too late. I'll talk to them. He came back the next day and said, It's too late. He never explained. A lot of paper had already been put in. Things had been rolling from the time I put in the complaint up there [in Minot], and I just wasn't aware of it. I had no idea what was going on in the background.

CP: So you were pretty much already done in politically when the Ground Zero theft case came up?

Turner: Yes. And I think that [case] really shocked them. The first performance evaluation [after my return from suspension], [my supervisor] had a problem getting it by management, because they wanted me out. They needed to discredit me to make my allegations against them not credible. And they had to attack me personally to do that. [My supervisor] had gone to management and said, I can't bang her. She's doing too good a job. He told me that. And he said to me, Please don't prove me wrong.

That was at three months. After another 60 days I was supposed to get another review, but things were going swimmingly. I had evidence stacked up, Coleen Rowley had gone back to Washington and mentioned this [Ground Zero] case as one of the biggest cases happening in Minneapolis. Ground Zero was getting huge play on the East Coast. So people were just starting to warm up. At first people said they were warned not to talk to me. I said, I understand. So if I met with anybody, we had to meet in the women's bathroom. If I did have any conversations, that's where I'd have them--with another female agent, or with clerical staff.

I was just getting to the point with this huge successful case where people were starting to warm up a little bit. I wasn't asked to lunch or anything, but I could tell there was a thaw. My supervisor, instead of being very rigid, now was more conversational, kinder, warmer. Before, he wouldn't even take a cup of coffee from me, but now I could take him a cup of coffee. As soon as I left his office, he no longer started writing things down immediately.

And as this little thaw was occurring, I came around the corner one day and took this path I normally didn't take through this squad down the hall from ours, and saw on a secretary's desk this artifact that was really unusual. I said, what is that? It was on a pedestal. I thought it was something that had been used in target practice. It had what looked like .22 caliber fractures in it. She said, it's from Ground Zero. I knew what these artifacts were worth, and I was stunned to see one here in Minnesota. I asked her, How did you get it? She said, One of the guys on the evidence response team gave it to me. And I said, Who? She said, You'll just get him in trouble. My reputation obviously preceded me.

I said [to an FBI manager], If I get up on the stand and they bring that [globe incident] up, this is going to make the Bureau look like a donkey's you-know-what. He agreed with me that there was a problem. Our management did nothing. That thing still sat there. A period of time passed, and then I, along with the FEMA agent who I was working with on this case, removed the globe from the desk where it was sitting--long after we had advised management--tagged it, bagged it, and gave it to the DOJ IG.

Sometimes FBI agents--you know, it's like a war trophy. You know what I'm saying? It proves you're special. You were in a situation that very few people had access to. But the fact remained, you could not have people removing artifacts from crime scenes. We have no right.

About a month later, that's when I got this note that I embarrassed the Bureau. And that I had performance issues. It wasn't true, but how else could they get me? Could they say, You embarrassed the Bureau, so you're fired? No. So they called it performance issues, and I was gone, and this time I didn't come back.

CP: Talk a little about the emotional and physical toll of these battles.

Turner: You know, I have fibromyalgia, which is related to stress. I have stress-induced asthma. I have severe post-traumatic stress, which has created a host of problems. Weakened immune system. High blood pressure. Skin problems. Digestive problems. My self-confidence is diminished. I just don't have the intuitive abilities I used to have with respect to law enforcement.

Financially it's been devastating. The legal bills are now over $1 million, and I'm personally over $100,000 out of pocket. I'm living pension check to pension check. They have really hurt me. That's all right, though, because--I'm not trying to sound like a jerk here, but my life is my message, right? And I've got to stay true. I couldn't have looked my own daughter in the face if I hadn't blown the whistle concerning those Indian kids. But it cost me, big-time.

CP: How much did the FBI's view of women agents change during your time there?

Turner: Culturally there's still a very strong resistance against women. Of course Hoover died in May of 1972, and women came in that July. They tell you it's coincidental, but you and I know that's not true. From '78 up to the present time, women have been a minority. A lot of people have promulgated the idea that they're only there because the Bureau was forced to take them, and we really don't deserve it, can't handle it.

Some senior management people use what we call the "little bit nutty, little bit slutty" approach toward female FBI agents. I've had female FBI agents who I've been in contact with through the [] website who have been accused of promiscuity, which is like--who cares? Do they do this with the male agents?

Even today among some senior management, the feeling is that women agents are both irrelevant and unworthy. That's why you have so many women agents, I think, who work so hard. Because you've got to do twice as much to hold your ground. Most of the women agents I've known in my 25 years do not want to be known as anything but FBI agents. Certainly not female agents. So you really strive not to make a production out of that.

We have a memo that passes among women agents that was done just before Hoover died, and it gives reasons why there shouldn't be any female agents. He had it prepared to counter anything that should come from Congress asking, Why don't you have women? Because we were getting into that time period.

It's just a hoot. It talks about the same issues that guys in the Bureau have today toward women. It talks about how when a man goes into a disturbance, he's got to know that his backup will be there for him, and that may not be possible with a woman. What's interesting, since women have been in after '72, I'm not sure how many have been involved in getting their partners hurt. But one of the first women who died was killed by her fellow agents. [See "Hoover's Ghost"]

Black agents have had a class-action suit; Hispanic agents--the ones who alleged they were on a "taco circuit"--have a class-action suit. The only ones who haven't are the women, who always hang in hoping they'll be accepted. Being the only woman on a SWAT squad, I saw that at best they would tolerate you. But they would never accept you.

In fact, you have guys still working in this [Minneapolis] office who once said they would never work for a woman SAC. But they do now.

What's interesting is that they'll put these women in these media-visible spots, such as media spokespeople. If you look in the papers, it appears that the spokespersons for most offices are women. Well, why would that be? First, it's a dead-end job. There's nowhere to go from there. Second, it makes the public think there's a lot of women agents. There's not. They also like to use women agents in the perp walk. I worked organized crime in New York, and that was always something they liked to do. They thought it added a little bit of humiliation to the whole thing.

CP: You came into the Bureau in the late '70s, in the age of the Church Committee and a lot of terrible disclosures about past FBI abuses in the areas of surveillance, intimidation, COINTELPRO, and so on. Was there ever a time then or at any other point in your tenure when the external calls for reform were taken seriously on the inside?

Turner: A lot of it depends on the director. One difference is, the Bureau believed traditionally that it was autonomous from the Justice Department. And in fact we were often told that: The Justice lawyers don't tell us how to do a case, we tell them how we're going to work it. That has changed. After Ruby Ridge and Waco and so forth, the Justice Department said, We'd better rein this in a little bit. I've seen more of the Justice Department pulling the Bureau back into that fold.

But the attitude comes from the top, and it can go as high as the president. It depends on what kind of signals they get. And oftentimes you would see that the Bureau tended to reflect who was in charge of the country. If the administration in power allows a huge amount of latitude in what you're doing, the FBI will take it. If they signal from the top that they're not going to allow that, then the Bureau won't take that latitude, because they know it's politically not a good idea. It's a very political agency.

Today's director [Robert Mueller, Jr.] makes all these comments about protecting whistleblowers, and we've never had so much punitive action toward whistleblowers as under his reign. He's been hell on whistleblowers. And he does that in concert with the highest levels of government. Mueller is part of that core intelligence group that is relied upon. Leahy and Grassley have written letter upon letter to him about his handling of whistleblowers. It's not an issue that's under the rug. It's a present-day issue that's beat on all the time. I know it's a concern to both political parties, because you've got people like Sibel Edmonds--that's a big deal. I mean, a globe from Ground Zero may not be that important to political figures at that level. But certainly what Sibel Edmonds [see "An October Surprise for the FBI?"] has got to say is very important to everyone.

CP: You pointed out earlier that the FBI is more politicized now that it's under the eye of the Justice Department Office of Inspector General. Can you talk about the relationship you see between the Bush administration and the FBI?

Turner: The FBI takes its lead from the bosses. And they do what they're instructed. The FBI under a strong president like Clinton is going to be fairly different from the FBI under Bush. It's the same way with the Justice Department--don't you see a difference there?

The Bureau is smart enough to have stayed above the fray for many years. They know which way the wind blows, and they go with it. That's how you get the excesses you've got today. If you've got a Rottweiler, you're fine as long as it's on its chain, right? If you slip off the chain, what do you get? It's the same with the Bureau.

I think the Bureau has had a license [under the Bush administration] to do what it's wanted. They've gotten more money. They haven't been penalized. They've been rewarded, correct? Nobody pays any price except the whistleblower who calls attention to the problem. When you get company people like Coleen Rowley--and she was totally, 100 percent a company person--going outside the boundaries, you know that the chains are off the Rottweilers.

I loved the Bureau. You have a lot of people who are very dedicated, very loyal, very upstanding. But the FBI has implemented a system that rewards some of the people with the least conscience and fewest honorable intentions.

Like I said before, it all comes from the top. When Louis Freeh said, You can't hang out in bars while on duty anymore, they stopped. When he said, You can't drive Bureau cars when you're out drinking anymore, it stopped. But no one has ever said, "Stop retaliating against whistleblowers" and meant it.

CP: Why is it that no one had ever heard of "FBI whistleblowers" until just a few years ago?

Turner: The first one who survived the process was Fred Whitehurst in the 1990s. I call him the grandfather of FBI whistleblowers, and he's referred to me as the grandmother. He was the first. Up until him, nobody had made it through the gauntlet.

We have tried to figure out what makes a whistleblower in the FBI survive. And you have to be a certain personality, saint or sinner. Maybe you could say you have to be too stupid to know any better. The psychologists have said it's a strong sense of right and wrong. Also, most whistleblowers tend to be close to retirement. They have many years in. The younger ones, they just get rid of. They fire them. They were in the process of firing me with 25 years in. So imagine someone with 10 years in, or five.

Fred's example allowed people to say, Well, he got there. The first time I heard about Fred, I was at a retirement conference. I'd already started this process. Remember, it took five years. There was an SAC there who had been involved in one of these horrific cases, specifically I think Ruby Ridge, and he had a couple of other people with him, briefcase-holders. They were supervisors or SACs from another area. I happened to be sitting at a table with them, and Fred's name came up. And all of a sudden this SAC just exploded. He was so angry he was foaming at the mouth. He called Fred every name he could think of. All I could think was, oh my God, years from now this is how they're going to be talking about me.

Cover Story · · Vol 25 · Issue 1244 · PUBLISHED 10/6/04

City Pages is the Online News and Arts Weekly of the Twin Cities

Letter to Pres. Bush about 911 and Other Items

Subject: An American demands the truth from you

September 30, 2004 By Email, By Facsimile to White House

Mr. President,

I am a Conservative Christian Republican that has no intentions of voting for you in this year's election and many other Conservative Republicans are following me.

America demands the TRUTH and not after the elections; this nation demands the truth from you RIGHT NOW! This letter and an identical email will be going out to hundreds of thousands by me, millions by others. The following content was sent to the White House by facsimile earlier today from Ground Zero in New York City.

1. I demand as an American citizen that you lift the "gag order" on Sibel D. Edmonds and let Americans know what foreign names and what AMERICAN NAMES she uncovered in her FBI translations that were involved in drug trafficking, money laundering and the financing of 9-11. Her facts and your "official story" lies do not add up. Americans demand the truth on that matter before the election.

2. I demand to know what energy companies were in that Cheney Energy Task Force meeting and what discussions there were as to the steps that would be taken to remove the Taliban and Bridas Corporation as the last remaining obstacle to the United States controlling the Trans-Afghanistan Pipeline. I met that company in 1999 and have known since then about the Bridas v Unocal, $15 billion interference of contract lawsuit in US District Court, Southern District of Texas. I also know about the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals decision on September 9, 2003 that upheld the Bridas $500 million arbitration settlement and the March 22, 2004 denial of Writ of Certiorari at the United States Supreme Court, Case 03-1018, Turkmenneft v Bridas.

3. I demand to know how many prisoners are being held at GITMO and other places that are either BRIDAS EMPLOYEES or are persons that know all about Bridas Corporation and what your administration did to get control of that Trans-Afghanistan pipeline.

4. I demand to know how many board meetings Condoleezza Rice and Thomas Kean sat in on at Chevron and Amerada Hess where it was discussed how they were going to deal with making the billions in "Big Oil" investments into a land locked Caspian Basin and how to get rid of the Taliban and Bridas so they could turn those investments into cash flow. How many times did Big Oil ask for military force to complete a commercial transaction they could not get under their control, and on what exact date did you agree to provide such military force - prior to 9-11? Isn’t it true Mr. Bush that the Cheney Energy Task Force discussed that attack on Afghanistan and removal of the Taliban / Bridas obstacle once and for all – and did so well in advance of 9-11?

5. I demand to know why you appointed 10 persons to the 9-11 Commission, 8 of which are directly benefiting by the Taliban / Bridas "contract" obstacle being removed - breached with military force, and the big Caspian Oil deals that are now coming to market. No, America does not 'thank you' for that nor do we hold such despicable conduct up high.

6. I demand to know what US Oil Company stepped up as the sponsor of that OPIC and Asia Development Bank funded Trans-Afghanistan pipeline and what US company is constructing that

President George W. Bush

Page 2

September 30, 2004

pipeline right now, and what US firms are supplying the key components and their relationship to your administration.

7. I demand that you identify the company and persons who were going around Bridas to be "natural gas suppliers" to the US owned natural gas electrical generation plants in Pakistan (Dynegy - Illinova /Tenaska, El Paso (2 OPIC financed transactions) and others.

8. I demand to know why you have not been truthful with the American public that your GWOT and military policy are protecting the Caspian Basin Oil and Gas deals for many of your Bush Pioneers, some $9.6 trillion in oil and about $3 trillion in natural gas, now mostly in the hands of your elite wealthy contributors and some elite Liberals to keep this all quiet.

9. I demand to know what role the post-bankruptcy ENRON (Prisma Energy International, Cayman Islands) is playing in the Caspian Basin area, the same Enron that uses the law firm of Mayer Brown Rowe & Maw [Richard Ben Veniste, 9-11 Commission] that established the offshore SPE's for assets that were never under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court.

10. I demand to know why you appointed Richard Ben Veniste to the 9-11 Commission when it was his law firm that was stalling Bridas Corporation at the Fifth Circuit US Court of Appeals in the matter of Bridas Corporation v. Turkmenneft and his law firm is directly involved in Pakistan, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan and your administration.

11. I demand to know the exact date of the order that had our military practicing in early 2001 the invasion of Afghanistan to take out the Taliban and Bridas Corporation and make that pipeline under control of US interests, many of your Bush Pioneers, and the exact date that our military started practicing and preparing for that invasion.

12. I demand to know who Remington Holdings Ltd is, and Western Acquisitions, Inc, both Baker & Botts clients and the lucky recipients of OPIC financing to acquire oil and gas deposits in Pakistan. Who are the parties involved in those entities by name and benefited from such governmental magnanimity? Is this transaction a payoff? Since American taxpayers are footing the bill, we have the right to know - right now.

13. I demand to know why you could not find 10 people to sit on the 9-11 Commission that are not directly benefiting from the actions you have taken and the lives you have cost or otherwise ruined. Why would you select people not motivated to find the truth for that would impact “their bottom line”?

14. I demand a full disclosure from your administration as to the Citibank / IFTRIC / OPIC / Export-Import Bank financing of American / Israeli based deals in Islamic nations on behalf of your major campaign contributors.

"IFTRIC and Citibank have an agreement allowing Citibank to finance approved IFTRIC-backed transactions. Citibank Israel CEO Nandan Mar said: ‘The Citibank branch, and the Structured Trade Finance Group, view IFTRIC’s program as a basic product for the bank’s domestic activities.’"

President George W. Bush

Page 3

September 30, 2004

I see distinct differences between "terrorism" and "outrage" (Shurtan II) at your policies.

15. I demand to know why you wanted an entire new division of the CIA for Argentina. As an American citizen I take umbrage to your belligerence towards a nation that is not an enemy of the United States by any stretch of the imagination, except possibly yours. It is abundantly clear that your intentions were solely to intimidate Argentina and Argentina based Bridas Corporation into silence and that is NOT AMERICA. That has every appearance of the United States acting as the terrorist and a state sponsor of terrorism. Yes, you are wrapped in a flag but I clearly see that it is not the one you purport it to be.

16. I demand to know why your administration has never disclosed that DynPort Vaccine, LLC, owned by DynCorp and now owned by Computer Sciences Corporation, a Bush Pioneer, is a possible source for where the weaponized Ames Strain of anthrax came from that was used against this nation. How did your administration manage to miss one of your campaign contributors and a company doing large volumes of business with your administration and even being known euphemistically (DynCorp) as The Mercenary Company? Who put that Contract on America?

17. I demand to know how you can claim a pretense of being a Christian while sponsoring and condoning the torture of prisoners, including sodomizing children, at Abu Ghraib prison.

18. I demand to know how your administration can send firms overseas as "representatives of this nation" that were convicted of running a flesh trade in little girls in Bosnia, specifically one DynCorp. Convicted in Texas and the United Kingdom according to reports I have seen and apparently detested in Afghanistan. You do recall that DynCorp is the company providing security to protect your puppet Karzai in Afghanistan and your other puppet Zalmay Khalilzad is deterring anyone from running for President in that bogus “free” democracy?

19. I demand to know why your administration keeps running the name and photos of Adnan G. El Shukrijumah as the "dirty bomb boogeyman" and on March 25, 2003 the FBI knew exactly where to find him and did not go after him. That telephone call was made from my telephone by a Canadian friend that was in Little Rock on that date, Mr. Bush, so do not pretend "national security" with me. I am "first person" on this matter and all of America deserves to know the extent that your administration has been and is lying to us all – and someone that is not Al Qaeda is probably “dropping a suspect name” as they set up a dirty bomb attack. Sure have pushed up the oil and gas prices with your strategery though, guess we can consider that another "Mission Accomplished".

20. I demand to know why your administration keeps referring to Adnan G. El Shukrijumah as a “Saudi” when the FBI knows full well he is not Saudi. His family is from Guyana in South America and they have lived in Florida since 1986 without incident. His grandparents were from Yemen, moved long ago to South America and his mother is from Trinidad & Tobago.

21. I demand to know why you alerted India, Pakistan and "Axis of Evil" member Iran of your intentions to attack the Taliban / Bridas well before 9-11, and not notify the citizens of this nation. That matter was reported on June 26, 2001 in India newspapers.

President George W. Bush

Page 4

September 30, 2004

22. I demand to know the exact date that the first meeting, first page of the Patriot Act was started by your administration.

23. I demand to know why it is you, your backers, certain Democrats that apparently “hate our freedoms” more than these purported GWOT Islamic fundamentalists, hence the Patriot Act that treats all Americans with the same degree of contempt and disdain you treat all non-wealthy Americans.

24. I demand to know why Homeland Security is protecting this government and not protecting this nation.

25. I demand to know why any dissent or objections to your Orwellian, imperialistic, pro-corporate agenda is referred to the Homeland Security Counter-Terrorism Division.

26. I demand to know why you defile everything you touch and try to twist it into something that is pro-Bush Backers and anti-American citizens and then try to alter our rights as Americans via Patriot Act measures that are designed to force America into submission and does nothing to protect this nation, only this government.

27. I demand to know why your administration is planning a “pro-Bush Pioneers pharmaceutical program” derived from TMAP (Texas Medical Algorithm Project) and PENNMAP (Tom Ridge, Pennsylvania) to have Americans tested under guidelines prepared by your Bush Pioneers and force psychotropic drugs on Americans.

28. I demand to know why your administration keeps injecting our troops with an anthrax vaccine known to be deadly and harmful to the health of our soldiers and now apparently wish to inject that into all Americans under Project BioShield and martial law. Is that why you have no concern whatsoever for the 3 million jobs lost, for between your TMAP lunacy and Project BioShield lunacy, well over 3 million Americans could perish if the same statistical rates hit the general population as has hit our military? Can you explain away Holocaust with “brilliant strategery policy” driven by unmitigated greed?

29. I demand to know why Li Ka-shing was denied Global Crossing on national security grounds (very public) yet allow him in the back door in Savi Technology (not disclosed), the RFID technology company that is purportedly protecting our ports from insertion of a nuclear bomb into this nation via “ocean going containers”. How many doors are left wide open by your administration in this GWOT Fable?

30. I demand to know why you search the world for mythical terrorists and cannot find robber barons and financial terrorist right under your nose. That many of them are Bush Pioneers and even backers of the Democratic Party, and have plundered the investors, workers and citizens of this nation, is very apparent to Americans and not very pro-family on your part.

Christians do not lie, Mr. Bush, for that is an affront to God. A Christian would not willfully mislead this nation, nor send our troops into Harm’s Way for a lie while your wealthy contributors take over a $9.6 trillion oil, $3.0 trillion natural gas deal and already maneuvering for Africa. You are proving to the world that you are terrified of the truth and have impeded every

President George W. Bush

Page 5

September 30, 2004

investigation into the truth. Your actions prove that you are not an upstanding Christian, nor are you a Conservative Republican worthy of that designation.

Your position as President does not make you unaccountable to the citizens of this nation, nor does it entitle you to act as a tyrant, an emperor, or serving only those Americans that dole out money for your political ambitions and agendas. I see no “stewardship” in your conduct whatsoever.

You have "Mission Accomplished" three times - the removal of Taliban / Bridas to control that pipeline, radically escalated the price of oil and gas for some of your major backers, and the death and maiming of many due to your lies. Your "Iraq Strategery" makes perfect sense to me, since all of you needed a diversion away from Afghanistan, the Caspian Basin and what you did to Bridas Corporation to get control of that $9.6 trillion in oil, $3 trillion in natural gas.

Go back home and wrap yourself in the flag of Texas and the shame you alone are responsible for creating. Your resume is your doing and yours alone.

If you were running against me this year, you would not have the guts to stay on the stage in a debate with me.

Shame on all of you, both sides of the aisle that have lied to America and gotten so many killed and maimed for a lie, and no, I am not an antiwar person. Just adamantly opposed to what you stand for, for that is lower than Clinton on his worst day.


Karl W. B. Schwarz

President, Chief Executive Officer

Patmos Nanotechnologies, LLC

Agents Challenge 9/11 Commission

Agents Challenge 9/11 Commission
by William F. Jasper

Agents on the front lines of the war on terror have risked their careers to warn America about the corruption and culpable negligence that continue to put our nation in peril.

Order This Issue

Vol. 20, No. 21
October 18, 2004
Imagining a Brighter Tomorrow

PDF Version - $1.95 - [Order] [Checkout]
Requires Adobe Acrobat Reader

Print Copies - Online purchases of the print version will receive a complimentary link to the PDF version also.
1 copy - $2.95 - [Order]
10 copies - $12.50 - [Order]
25 copies - $22.50 - [Order]
100 copies - Call 1-800-342-6491 for case ordering.

Shortly after the 9/11 terrorist attacks on America, the FBI went on a hiring binge for language translators. Special Agent John M. Cole, who was working in the FBI’s Washington, D.C., headquarters, was assigned to do risk assessments on applicants for the translator positions.

Something in the first applicant file he picked up set off alarm bells. “One of the first things I noticed is that her father was a retired military general from a foreign power,” Special Agent Cole told The New American. “He also lived six months of the year in the U.S. and the other six months in this foreign country. I ran his name through the FBI computer and found that he had been stationed as a military attaché in the U.S. during the 1970s. One of the things I knew from my years in counterintelligence was that every military attaché from that country had proven to be an intelligence agent for that government. This was a red flag.”

Special Agent Cole says he did exactly what he was supposed to do: He took the applicant file to his supervisor, recommended against hiring the applicant and suggested a further risk assessment by the counterterrorism unit. The supervisor was glad that Cole had caught the potential security problem and agreed with his evaluation. Shortly thereafter, says Cole, he asked the supervisor if the risk assessment had been done on the applicant. He was dumbfounded at the response he received. He recounts: “I was told, ‘Not that it matters now, she’s already been hired and has just started to work in the Washington, D.C., field office.’” What’s more, she had been given Top Secret clearance.

“I was shocked,” he says. “I couldn’t believe that this obvious security risk was being rushed through without proper risk assessments and put in such a sensitive position.” John Cole is no rookie; he is an 18-year FBI veteran with much of that time spent in counterintelligence, as well as undercover operations and counterterrorism.

But he was in for more shocks, because it got much worse. According to Cole, there were as many as 12 additional applicants hired as language specialists, whose files he had personally inspected, that showed red flags for various reasons. These also were not properly vetted, he says. “Now remember, this was during the time period right after the Robert Hannsen case broke,” he points out, “and the Bureau is insisting that it’s doing everything possible to tighten security in the wake of this scandal. We saw the incredible damage that one Hannsen could cause, and yet, here we were setting ourselves up for several Hannsen-type disasters in the future.” Robert Hannsen, an FBI special agent with a long career in counterintelligence, was arrested in February 2001 for spying for Russia and the former Soviet Union. The total damage he caused to U.S. security may never be known, but his case is regarded as the worst known case of foreign penetration of the FBI.

Cole says he became more and more alarmed at what he saw and repeatedly filed reports through channels warning that the Bureau was facing very serious potential security breaches. Instead of tightening security on questionable applicants, he says, “the Security Programs people started coming down on me” for continuing to bring these matters up.

He had been covering Afghanistan, Pakistan and India for the Bureau, which had become an especially important region in the terror war. Suddenly, he was transferred to the Sub-Saharan Africa desk, which was tantamount to being exiled to Siberia. Yet, even here, he discovered he could put his experience to good use. Perusing a file of a former FBI language specialist for this region, he discovered that the individual had been providing FBI information to a foreign intelligence service. This was both a crime and an enormous security breach. “I asked why a full investigation had not been initiated against this individual and why he had not been arrested, since he was still in the U.S.,” Cole recounts. “Again, instead of doing the obvious right thing of opening this case, they took the Sub--Sahara desk away from me.”

It was obvious, says Cole, that he was suffering retaliation for “rocking the boat,” which, in this case, meant simply doing his job. “For 18 years, I had gotten nothing but exceptional ratings,” he notes, but now, all of a sudden, he was getting negative write-ups. This is precisely what FBI Director Robert Mueller pledged would not happen in the new, post-9/11 FBI.

“I will not tolerate reprisals or intimidation by any bureau employee against those who make protected disclosures, nor will I tolerate attempts to prevent the employees from making such disclosures,” Mueller told the Senate Judiciary Committee on June 6, 2002. “I want people in the field to tell me what is happening,” he continued. “And I encourage, welcome the criticism, the insight, the suggestions, whether it be from the organization or from without the organization.”

However, the Bureau’s practices seem to contradict Director Mueller’s rhetoric. The cases of Special Agents John Roberts, Jane Turner, Robert Wright and Barry Carmody provide recent examples of FBI retaliation against whistleblowers. So do the cases of FBI language specialists Sibel Edmonds and Behrooz Sarshar. Edmonds, a Turkic and Arabic translator, insists that federal officials had specific information about the impending 9/11 attacks. In an August 2, 2004 open letter to the 9/11 Commission, Edmonds charged:

More than four months prior to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, in April 2001, a long-term FBI informant/asset who had been providing the bureau with information since 1990, provided two FBI agents and a translator with specific information regarding a terrorist attack.... Through his contacts in Afghanistan, he received information that: 1) Osama bin Laden was planning a major terrorist attack in the United States targeting four or five major cities; 2) the attack was going to involve airplanes; 3) some of the individuals in charge of carrying out this attack were already in place in the United States; 4) the attack was going to be carried out soon, in a few months.

Although Mrs. Edmonds’ charges have been public for more than two years, the Justice Department and FBI have asserted the rarely invoked State Secret Privilege to block the release of the Inspector General’s investigation into her allegations.

“Director Mueller tells Congress that he is waiting for the Inspector General’s report on the [John] Roberts case,” John Cole notes. “Well, the IG report confirms that the FBI has been retaliating against Roberts for exposing serious FBI misconduct. Mueller knows that but has done nothing. And he has been blocking all documents related to Sibel Edmonds’ case.”

Then there is Mueller’s testimony before the 9/11 Commission. “It was amazing,” says Cole. “Mueller made it appear that everything is rosy at the Bureau and that all its problems have been fixed or are being fixed. He stated that the FBI’s top priorities are: 1) counterterrorism; 2) counterintelligence; and 3) training. However, what I was witnessing personally at headquarters completely contradicted that. Counterintelligence and counterterrorism had become a total sham. The claim that training is now a top priority is also false. Training has actually decreased 75 percent since 9/11. Much of the training that is being done is worthless stuff put together by retired Bureau officials who have gotten fat contracts without competitive bidding.”

What about Mueller’s claim that he wanted to hear from agents? Empty public relations, says Cole. After repeatedly failing to get a response to his security concerns on the language translators, Cole went directly to Mueller. He says he hand-carried four letters to Mueller’s office — two in 2002 and two in 2003 — and delivered them to Mueller’s secretary. “I never got a response from him,” he told The New American. “Zero. Nothing.”

Well, not exactly nothing. John Cole did finally get a response from his superiors, but that response was not the one he had hoped for. In January 2004, he was notified that he was being suspended. In March he resigned from the FBI. Like all FBI special agents, John Cole solemnly swore “to support, uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic.” It’s an oath he takes seriously. “When you take an oath to defend this country and do the right thing, you had better mean it,” he told The New American. “And people should be held accountable when — whether through negligence or malfeasance — they violate that oath. Otherwise, what’s the point of having it.”

The FBI has changed since he first became a special agent, says Cole, who now works as a security analyst for the U.S. Air Force. “It used to be a great place to work,” he says. “You really felt that you were part of a team that was doing important, rewarding work. Now it has become so corrupt and there is no accountability; the most conscientious, professional employees are often penalized, while some of the worst are promoted. The Bureau is in worse shape than ever and morale is very low. This is very dangerous for America’s security.”

This conviction that our country was being left wide open to terrorist attack led John Cole to join Sibel Edmonds, former U.S. Customs Agent Diane Kleiman, FAA/TSA Special Agent Bogdan Dzakovic and other federal law enforcement and intelligence agents at the September 13, 2004 Whistleblowers press conference in Washington, D.C. These officers on the front lines of the terror war warn that, far from fixing the failures that led to 9/11, many of the 9/11 Report recommendations would do more harm than good. “Director Mueller and the commission both talk a lot about accountability,” says Cole, “ but both have refused to hold anyone accountable. They simply want to reshuffle the bureaucracy, spend more money, hire more people, increase their authority — and leave the same people in charge. That’s a prescription for more — and even bigger — disasters.”


FBI Heroes in the Terror War

Veteran FBI Special Agent Robert Wright (below) and his partner John Vincent tried for years before 9/11 to get authorization for a criminal investigation of an al-Qaeda terror cell in Chicago and suspected al-Qaeda financier Yassin Al-Kadi. Their efforts were repeatedly blocked by FBI officials. In a memo written three months before 9/11, Special Agent Wright warned that Americans would die as a result of the FBI’s failure to investigate terrorists living in this country. Too late for the victims of 9/11, the U.S. Government has indicted Yassin Al-Kadi. Agent Wright has been demoted, subjected to harassment and repeated investigations by his superiors and assigned to menial work.

FBI Special Agent Coleen Rowley and members of her Minneapolis FBI office were blocked repeatedly by FBI headquarters in their efforts to investigate Zacarias Moussaoui, the “20th hijacker.” Thankfully, the Minneapolis office, which had arrested Moussaoui several weeks before 9/11, did not release him. Rowley is shown above testifying before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee in July 2002.