Two more senior FBI officials have announced plans to quit, continuing a hemorrhage of top talent to the private sector that has complicated the bureau’s efforts to refashion itself as a counterterrorism agency, says the Chicago Tribune. On Friday the FBI announced the departure of Gary Bald, head of the bureau’s newly formed National Security Branch, who is taking a job with a cruise line. Yesterday, Bank of America announced it had hired the bureau’s No. 3 official, Chris Swecker, the acting executive assistant director. Swecker’s predecessor, Grant Ashley, left the FBI just three months ago for a security post at a casino. Louis Reigel, who headed the FBI’s cyber-crime division, retired to join a food service company earlier this year.
The turnover is particularly acute among counterterrorism officials, such as Bald, who had been in his job overseeing the FBI’s fledgling domestic intelligence operation for only eight months. Yesterday, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Ca.) asked FBI Director Robert Mueller about the turnover at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing. Mueller said that since Sept. 11, 2001, “everyone wants a security director” and “many of these corporations can pay far more than the federal government.” Mueller insisted that despite the departures, the bureau has a “strong bench” of seasoned counterterrorism experts.