FBI Agent Sues To Report Misconduct
By Michael J. Sniffen
Associated Press Writer
Friday, Nov. 3, 2000; 5:56 p.m. EST WASHINGTON A 20-year veteran FBI agent went to court Friday seeking the right to report to President Clinton and key members of Congress what he considers serious and criminal misconduct by federal workers during a top secret, undercover national security operation.
FBI Director Louis Freeh and Deputy Attorney General Eric Holder have denied agent Joseph G. Rogoskey permission to relay his allegations to Clinton, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and House and Senate committees that oversee the FBI.
In a lawsuit against the FBI and Justice Department, Rogoskey said that as an undercover agent he "witnessed acts of serious misconduct and violation of federal law by employees of the federal government during the course of their employment."
FBI spokesman Bill Carter said, "We understand all the allegations of government misconduct have long been appropriately addressed."
Now on paid administrative leave, Rogoskey spent 12 years, 1987 through 1998, on top-secret, undercover operations involving some of the government's deepest secrets that are accessible only to specified people.
Rogoskey is barred from telling his lawyer, Stephen Kohn, any details of the operation or the alleged misconduct. Kohn said he understands only that "it doesn't involve anyone stealing money. It involves what they were ordered and permitted by the government to do in this operation."
Like the FBI, Holder advised Rogoskey by letter that he should report "whistle-blower-type allegations" to internal FBI investigators or Justice inspector general agents who "have the appropriate security clearances."
But Kohn said, "Keeping whistle-blower allegations within the institution that authorized the misconduct does not serve the public interest and raises grave constitutional questions."
Rogoskey first reported his allegations to his immediate supervisor in late 1997, "promptly upon observing them," Kohn said. "We don't know if the FBI has fixed the problem," Kohn said, because Rogoskey has been on leave since the summer of 1998.
Since making the allegations, the FBI has retaliated against Rogoskey, the lawsuit said. The suit said this included an allegation of misconduct against Rogoskey, of which FBI investigators cleared him; efforts by superiors "to call into question his integrity"; and recently threatening to fire him for medical reasons if he fails a fitness for duty exam.
The FBI's Carter responded: "Any internal disciplinary or other employment problems Mr. Rogoskey may have experienced are completely unrelated to providing the earlier allegations."
Kohn said: "Fitness reviews are extremely intrusive. They include psychiatric exams, interviews with his wife and examination of his sex life."
A fitness exam was ordered of another FBI whistle-blower client of Kohn's, Frederic Whitehurst, the FBI chemist whose allegations led to an inspector general's finding the FBI Laboratory engaged in sloppy science and gave biased testimony for the prosecution.
"Even though Whitehurst was found fit, the FBI tried to discredit him with material from the fitness exam," Kohn said.
Kohn said Rogoskey has applied for workman's compensation because two doctors concluded he suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder caused by his work. "He has work-related injuries because they kept him undercover too long and from the retaliation," Kohn said.
FBI officials have said that agents who spend long periods undercover can suffer tensions from maintaining dual personalities.
In the lawsuit, Rogoskey asked the U.S. District Court here to decide whether he can transmit his allegations to Clinton, Albright and congressional oversight committees, to bar the government from retaliation and to process his workman's compensation claim instead of ordering a fitness review.
Because of secrecy rules, Rogoskey submitted his allegations in a sealed envelope to the FBI's publication review clearance board in May 1999.
The agent had no publisher, wasn't seeking compensation and did not intend to publish the material for the general public, but wanted permission to send it to the named officials, Kohn said.
FBI attorney Lyn Brown "denied the permission the next day by phone and said the information in the envelope should have been transported by armed guard." Kohn said. Freeh and Holder later upheld that denial.
© Copyright 2000 The Associated Press