Agent: FBI 'Ill-Equipped' for Terror Threat

According to an internal Justice Department review of the case by the Office of Professional Responsibility, in 2002, Youssef was informed he would be transferred to the FBI's Counterintelligence Division Budget Unit, but was then posted to the FBI's Document Exploitation Unit, which reviewed and organized documents collected from Afghanistan and other terrorist locations.

His lawsuit also disclosed he had applied for a position at the FBI's Strategic Information Operations Center (SIOC), but other candidates were selected.

In a March 2008 opinion in the litigation, Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly wrote, "[FBI] memorandum reflects the FBI's proffered legitimate, nondiscriminatory reasons for selecting a candidate other than Youssef for the SIOC position."

Youssef is currently the chief of the FBI's Communications Analysis Unit, which analyses telephone records and issues requests between the FBI and the phone companies.

Youssef testified before the committee today that he tried to raise concerns about the use of national security letters (NSLs) in 2006, but his warnings were not heeded.

"I began to realize that there were issues with the use of national security letters and that I had actually gone to my superiors, explaining to them that there is an issue here that we need to deal with: 'This is going to kill us,'" he said.

Youssef also noted concerns to the FBI's Office of General Counsel about the use of exigent letters sent to the phone companies to request phone records in national security investigations, but said the claims were ignored.

Youssef told the committee, "there's an e-mail ... giving my unit guidance, to continue to use the exigent letters and to start using them pronto."

The Justice Department inspector general has found, in audits over the last two years, that the FBI requested more than 199,000 NSLs with no judicial review between 2003 and 2006, and issued 700 exigent letters to obtain information from phone companies.

The Justice Department inspector general is investigating whether crimes were committed by personnel in the Communications Analysis Unit in their use of exigent letters to obtain information for counterterrorism cases.

Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, testified before the committee today that the FBI has a deeply ingrained culture of retaliation, and is one of the few agencies not to have strong whistleblower protection laws.

Some agents have said they "threw [Youssef] under the bus," in the inspector general inquiry on the exigent letters, Grassley said.

"These comments confirm that the anti-whistleblower culture at the FBI is as strong as ever," the senator said. "Essentially, these FBI personnel stated openly that they intend to use inspector general review as a vehicle to retaliate against Youssef."

Youssef's suit filed against the FBI is set for remediation in August 2008.

In her March opinion, Kollar-Kotelly noted of the suit, "The Court agrees with the FBI that these are not legal 'claims.' Addressing them in the order presented above, the first claim does not allege an adverse employment action -- it alleges the status quo."

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