The FBI named a terrorism to its top national security job as one of its own agents went public with allegations that the bureau still lacks the experience and skills needed to effectively combat terrorists, the Washington Post reports. Agent Bassem Youssef, a whistle-blower who alleged he was passed over for promotions after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, said counterterrorism agents and their managers still lack basic knowledge about Middle Eastern culture, Arabic language, and terrorist mind-sets.
In some cases, Youssef said, that lack of knowledge has caused agents to investigate people they should not, by claiming emergency circumstances. As a result, they are missing others who should be under scrutiny. Youssef currently oversees a headquarters office involved in the gathering of phone records in counterterrorism cases. Assistant FBI Director John Miller acknowledged the FBI has had difficulty recruiting Arabs despite aggressive efforts, mostly because of strong competition from higher-paying private sectors such as science and medicine, and competition from other intelligence agencies. He said the FBI began developing true terrorism expertise only in the late 1990s and that it has taken time to find seasoned managers with full terrorism pedigrees ready for top jobs. The FBI named Arthur M. Cummings II, a 20-year veteran and current manager in the bureau’s counterterrorism division, as executive assistant director for national security, with responsibility for all of the FBI’s anti-terrorism, intelligence gathering and counterespionage efforts.