- The Washington Times - Friday, November 2, 2001

After 27 years with the FBI, where he rose to the bureau's No. 2 post as deputy director, Tom Pickard is headed home calling it quits at the end of November.
A native of Queens, N.Y., the 51-year-old agent, who spent his entire career in FBI offices in New York and Washington, is retiring to his home state, where he began as an agent in 1975.
"Tom Pickard brought to the FBI the personal and professional qualities that we hold highest," said FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III. "His career testifies to his uncompromising integrity and absolute dedication to the FBI, law enforcement and the American people.
"He will be sorely missed here at the FBI and throughout the law enforcement community across the country and the world," Mr. Mueller said. "While I did not want him to go, I understand why he and his wife, Sharon, have made this decision."
Mr. Pickard's career has been filled with high-profile cases, not the least of which is the one he currently oversees: the investigation into the terrorist attacks of September 11 and the series of deadly anthrax infections in New York, Florida and Washington.
Described by the FBI's rank and file as a "dedicated investigator, innovative manager and all-around good guy," Mr. Pickard, is famous for an open-door policy he brought to the most senior levels of the bureau's often-stilted hierarchy. Unlike other senior managers, he encouraged employees to seek him out, to speak directly with him on issues they felt important.
"This was no empty suit," said one veteran agent. "He had time for you no matter who you were, what you did or how long you'd been with the bureau. More importantly, he listened and he was not afraid to act. He will be missed."
Another agent who got to know Mr. Pickard when he was named to head the FBI's Washington field office said he was quick to flash a grin and laugh, even at times of adversity.
Mr. Pickard was named acting director after the surprise retirement this year of Louis J. Freeh just eight years into a 10-year term. Many agents hoped President Bush would nominate the bureau veteran permanently to the post.
"He has the same high principals of Louie Freeh but unlike the former director, we all thought he probably would bleed if cut. He was fearless but no one feared him," said another longtime agent, noting that while Mr. Pickard was on the short list of candidates, the job eventually went to Mr. Mueller.
But, Mr. Pickard did run the bureau in the interim, assigned as acting director by Attorney General John Ashcroft, who lauded the veteran agent as "a long-serving soldier in the ongoing war against terrorism."
This week, Mr. Ashcroft said Mr. Pickard had "served his country with honor and distinction."
In 1999, Mr. Pickard was named deputy director, overseeing all of the bureau's 12,000 agents and 16,000 support people. At the time, he headed the FBI's criminal division and had directed several of the bureau's top cases including the investigation of the 1998 bombings of the U.S. embassies in Africa.
Prior to his appointment as chief of the criminal division, Mr. Pickard headed the FBI's Washington field office, where he oversaw the investigation of former FBI Agent Earl Pitts on espionage charges and the overseas capture of convicted CIA killer Mir Aimal Kasi. That assignment lasted from 1996 to 1998.
He went to the Washington field office in 1996 from the bureau's flagship office in New York, where he served as special agent in charge of the National Security Division. He supervised the trials of the 1993 World Trade Center bombers.
He also oversaw the FBI's financial operations and its personnel section at Washington headquarters.
His career with the bureau began Jan. 13, 1975, after working for United Parcel Service and accountants Touche Ross when a friend arranged an interview for him with the FBI. A certified public accountant, Mr. Pickard often told friends and colleagues he sought to "blend" accounting and finance with investigations.
"Tom brought to the senior ranks of the FBI visionary management and a level of fiscal control that will serve us well during his period of transition," said Mr. Mueller. "It is a legacy of which he should be proud."


Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.

 

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide