Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, is keeping pressure on the FBI to reform in the wake of a cheating scandal. Collins sent FBI Director Bob Mueller a letter Oct. 7 that said he should immediately punish those who cheated on an important exam on domestic investigations rules and privacy, and force any cheater who wasn’t fired to retake the exam.
Collins also wants the FBI to conduct a department-wide review to find out if there were any other cheaters that weren’t identified by an inspector general investigation. Mueller last month said disciplinary actions are being taken against cheaters and promised to follow up on any other allegations of misconduct
Justice IG Glenn Fine released a report Sept. 27 that found dozens to hundreds of FBI agents and other employees — including the former assistant director in charge of the Washington field office and two of his special agents in charge — cheated on the Domestic Investigations and Operations Guide (DIOG) exam. Some allegedly improperly collaborated on the test, others allegedly shared answer sheets, and others may have hacked into the FBI’s computers to obtain answers.
Collins said the scandal indicates the FBI doesn’t take the DIOG seriously:
To be effective, the DIOG’s instructions and limitations must be instinctive for FBI employees. They must fully appreciate the nuances and legal underpinnings of the guidelines. They must understand what they can and cannot do, and when they should seek additional legal guidance. The cheating revealed by the IG’s report raises serious doubts about the commitment of many FBI employees to this level of understanding and about their fundamental integrity.
And Collins wonders how FBI agents expect to catch terrorists before they strike if they don’t even understand their powers to conduct domestic investigations:
There is no shortage of high-profile cases that demonstrate the need for FBI employees to understand the full scope of their authorities, yet still appreciate the lawful limits of their activities. For example, FBI officials that briefed the Committee shortly after the terrorist attack on Fort Hood indicated possible limitations in the DIOG regarding the ability to share information with the Department of Defense. Those limitations proved non-existent after subsequent briefings on the DIOG.
A more complete understanding of the DIOG and other authorities by Joint Terrorism Task Force employees might have helped avert the attack on Fort Hood. Other cases, including recent revelations concerning FBI investigations of Americans lawfully exercising their First Amendment rights or abuses of national security letters, clearly demonstrate the importance of understanding the DIOG and other legal limitations.