Wednesday, February 18, 2004

Dozens of FBI agents were fired, disciplined and even prosecuted between 1986 and 1999 over their involvement in crimes ranging from rape, child abuse and attempted murder to bribery, extortion and drug trafficking, according to a report made public yesterday.

The 26-page document, completed in 2000 by the bureau’s Behavioral Sciences and Law Enforcement Ethics units, identifies and assesses behavioral and ethical trends of FBI agents. The research project had been kept under wraps until its release by Sen. Charles E. Grassley, a senior member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which oversees the FBI.

Mr. Grassley, Iowa Republican, said the document, known as the Behavioral and Ethical Trends Analysis, or the BETA report, was “alarming,” saying it described the FBI’s “lack of response to the findings and recommendations, the general lack of support for the project, the efforts to prevent its completion and attempts to withhold the report from Congress and the public.”

“The shocking report is a laundry list of horrors, with examples of agents who committed rape, sexual crimes against children, other sexual deviance and misconduct, attempted murder of a spouse and narcotics violations, among many others,” he said.

Mr. Grassley said the report stated that the fired or disciplined agents had exhibited warning signs, such as long histories of misconduct, and he questioned whether FBI executives had screened agent applicants properly or monitored agents identified as having problems.

He said 63 percent of the fired agents had been engaged in long-term misconduct, according to the report, and that 45 percent of them had previous disciplinary actions.

“While it’s laudable that the FBI does fire agents who commit such terrible acts, these findings raise concerns about whether the FBI was dealing with problem agents soon enough and rigorously enough, possibly because of a reluctance to impose severe discipline,” Mr. Grassley said.

The FBI had no immediate comment on the report.

Mr. Grassley, who also serves as chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, said the report recognized what he called a double standard of discipline by FBI officials, saying that while serious misconduct was evident at all grades and positions within the bureau, Senior Executive Service employees “appeared to have received fewer suspensions and dismissals despite indications that they, too, engaged in egregious behavior.”

He also said the report found that the FBI had failed to conduct thorough background checks on some of the agents or that it had hired them despite knowing they had problems. The report recommended that the FBI keep statistics on fired agents in the future to identify other trends in behavior.

The report noted that one in 1,000 agents was dismissed for serious misconduct or criminal offenses by the FBI between 1986 to 1999, which is about eight a year. But Mr. Grassley said that although the number was commendable, there were concerns that the document had been withheld.

Some examples of misconduct cited in the report included an agent who raped a subordinate employee, an agent who used his FBI weapon to shoot his spouse, an agent who sexually abused children and physically assaulted an adult female, and an agent with a gambling and alcohol problem who stole $400,000 in informant funds.

Others examples included an agent who pleaded guilty to manslaughter after killing his informant, an agent arrested for performing a sex act in public, an agent who misused his government credit cards, an agent who disclosed classified information to people representing a foreign-intelligence agency, an agent who took nude photographs on government property and an agent who engaged in sexual acts with prostitutes “dozens of times.”

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