FBI Retaliated Against Whistleblower for Reporting National Security Breaches, Inspector General Report Concludes

December 4, 2005 12:00 am

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ACLU Calls on Congress to Enact Whistleblower Protections

NEW YORK — The FBI retaliated against a former undercover agent for reporting flaws in a terrorism investigation and doctored records to cover up mistakes, according to a draft report from the Justice Department’s Office of the Inspector General. The American Civil Liberties Union criticized the FBI’s actions against the agent, Mike German, and called on Congress to enact real whistleblower protections.

“As the Inspector General report confirms, the FBI has retaliated against yet another whistleblower,” said ACLU Associate Legal Director Ann Beeson. “The FBI should be rewarding agents who have the courage to report mistakes that threaten the nation’s security, not punishing them.”

In September 2002, German informed his supervisors that a terrorism investigation by the FBI in Orlando was being so seriously mishandled that the FBI was losing the opportunity to launch a proactive undercover operation that German believed could uncover a terrorism financing plot. German said that the FBI failed to respond to his allegations, and instead, he was disparaged by FBI supervisors, excluded from the Orlando investigation and removed as a trainer from elite FBI undercover schools. German resigned from the FBI in June 2004.

The Office of the Inspector General draft report, which was revealed in the New York Times today, concludes that the Orlando case was mishandled and mismanaged by the FBI’s Tampa Division. Specifically, the Inspector General found that the Orlando case agent failed to timely document and review recordings of important meetings between an informant and the subjects of the investigation. The Inspector General further found that the case agent’s supervisors were aware of these problems but did not take prompt action to correct them.

In addition, the Inspector General determined that after German reported the mismanagement, the Orlando case agent had attempted to engage in a cover-up by falsifying documents and manipulating dates of investigative reports. Some documents were doctored using “Wite-out.” The Inspector General further concluded that the FBI should have reviewed German’s allegations of a cover-up, and that an FBI official retaliated against German because he was a whistleblower.

“The Inspector General report is further evidence that the FBI’s own internal oversight systems are broken and corrupt,” said German. “What happened to me is not an isolated incident. FBI agents should be encouraged to report mismanagement and should be protected from retaliation.”

Today’s disclosures come on the heels of the Supreme Court’s refusal to allow another FBI whistleblower’s case to go forward. In that case, the Inspector General concluded that the FBI had in fact retaliated against former translator Sibel Edmonds for disclosing security breaches. Edmonds is represented by the ACLU.

“With courts unwilling to protect national security whistleblowers, it is more crucial than ever that Congress pass additional protections,” said Beeson.

For more information, go to www.aclu.org/whistleblowers

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