Older FBI agents are rebelling against Director Robert Mueller’s efforts to overhaul the hidebound agency, reports the Los Angeles Times. Hundreds of agents in field offices around the country suddenly are facing forced transfers to FBI headquarters. The Times gives the example of a loyal 23-year agent in Connecticut who quit to work for Otis Elevator Co. when he was ordered to move to Washington, D.C. Agents argue that the upheaval is counterproductive. They say they have spent years cultivating contacts and relationships with state and local officials, which are not easily replaced.
Turnover among the agents in charge of FBI field offices is such that some fear those supervisors are losing stature among state and local law enforcement officials they often rely on. As many as one fifth of the 1,500 top FBI jobs in Washington are vacant, according to one agency official – including positions in anti-terrorism, intelligence-gathering, and Internet crimes, which are among the FBI’s top priorities. The bureau has an authorized workforce of 31,000. The large number of vacancies reflects turnover and the fact that the bureau has yet to fill many new headquarters positions that Mueller created to avoid the sort of intelligence failures that led to Sept. 11, 2001.