A career FBI agent told Congress yesterday that the bureau lacked the experience and sophistication to deal with Middle Eastern terrorists and prevent another catastrophic attack, repors the Los Angeles Times. Agent Bassem Youssef said that counter-terrorism agents and managers at FBI headquarters often lack basic knowledge about Middle Eastern culture, language, and terrorists’ ideology. He said the FBI has continued to name supervisors to anti-terrorism positions who have little or no experience outside traditional law enforcement. The result is that agents waste resources chasing leads that more sophisticated observers would quickly dispense with. The time and energy expended on marginal cases has diverted resources from investigating more substantial threats, he said.
The FBI took issue with the testimony. “While we appreciate any employee’s views on the state and direction of the FBI, those assessments may be very limited in scope,” said spokesman John Miller. The House Judiciary subcommittee also heard from Michael German, a former agent whose 16-year career stalled after he blew the whistle on a supervisor in a domestic terrorism investigation. German had discovered that the FBI was illegally recording meetings between a neo-Nazi group and other extremists under surveillance. He said the supervisor told him to pretend the illegal recording did not occur. German described FBI management as frequently “dysfunctional” and failing to communicate effectively with agents on the ground. He now works for the American Civil Liberties Union.