D.C. veteran returns to FBI field office

By Spencer S. Hsu
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, November 11, 2010

The FBI has tapped the veteran chief of its counterterrorism division to serve as the next head of the bureau's Washington Field Office, capping a year of transition in the sensitive post.

James W. McJunkin's return to the 850-agent field office - he managed Washington area counterterrorism investigations in 2005 and 2006 before a series of headquarters promotions - comes as the bureau completes a series of internal moves triggered by the loss this year of Deputy Director John S. Pistole to lead the Transportation Security Administration.

In a written announcement Wednesday, FBI Director Robert S. Mueller said, "Jim has extensive experience and a record of success in managing counterterrorism investigations and creating successful partnerships."

McJunkin succeeds acting chief John G. Perren, who will continue as special agent in charge of the field office's counterterrorism branch. Shawn Henry, who took over as FBI assistant director for the Washington Field Office in February, was named the bureau's No. 4 official in September.

His predecessor, Joseph Persichini Jr., retired in December amid an internal investigation into allegations that he might have cheated on an FBI training exam.

McJunkin came to the WFO in 2005 after becoming a special agent in 1987, serving in San Antonio and Atlanta and joining the FBI's lead terrorism investigation unit in 2003.

He directed a multi-agency task force addressing threats to the presidential election in 2004, led the FBI's on-scene investigation of a March 2006 car bomb attack near the U.S. Consulate in Karachi, Pakistan, and was briefly deputy director for law enforcement at the CIA in 2007.

McJunkin, 49, who grew up on a dairy farm in northwestern Pennsylvania, graduated from Penn State University in 1982 and was a state police trooper. He lives with his wife of 25 years in Northern Virginia and has three children.

"I am going to terribly miss the camaraderie and toughness of the people I worked with" at the FBI counterterrorism division, McJunkin said, before adding of the field office, "I love the people there and I can't wait to get back."

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