I worked in a district attorney’s office in Massachusetts. We did several electronic intercept investigations along with other investigations each year. Obviously secrecy is essential during most of these. The files relating to them were under the control of the lead attorney. Those who knew of them and had access to them were only people who had a need to know about them. I’m sure after reading that you think well that is obvious.
Unfortunately, the FBI does not think it is obvious that crucial information be made available only to people with a right to know about it. As best as I can tell access to whatever is being done by some agents is available to all other agents and perhaps, for all I know given this sloppy procedure to all the FBI staff. After all, we knew that clerks in the FBI office in Boston knew that Whitey Bulger was John Connolly’s informant.
I am at a loss to understand how the FBI is able to control any investigation when knowledge of them is widespread throughout the Bureau. Knowing this one can only despair about any important information that is in the FBI’s possession and it is not hard to assume that those who have nefarious plans on America likewise have access to this information.
The recent charges against suspended FBI Agent Kendra Kingsbury shows the FBI’s total inability to protect our nation’s secrets. Kendra was an FBI agent out of Kansas City for 12 years until she was suspended in December 2017 for reasons not disclosed. It is alleged by the Justice Department that from 2004 to December 2017 she was taking highly sensitive information from the FBI, bringing it to her home and storing it there. She had no need to have or to know anything about this information but she was able to purloin it by copying it and removing it to her home during her twelve years with the FBI.
We are left in the dark as to why she was doing this. We have to wonder what type of security the FBI has that she could do this over so many years. We have no knowledge when the FBI first knew about it. Was it back in 2017 when she was suspended?. Is this another one of those cases where the FBI did nothing because it did not want to embarrass the FBI as I wrote about in my book Don’t Embarrass the Family?
An agent from the FBI’s counterintelligence unit said: “The breadth and depth of classified national security information retained by the defendant for more than a decade is simply astonishing.”
What to me is astonishing is that she could do this. The Justice Departent prosecutor said: “Our community’s safety and our nation’s security were jeopardized by this criminal behavior.” What exactly did she have?
“The first count of the federal indictment accuses Kingsbury of stealing secret information about government efforts to defend the nation against counterterrorism, counterintelligence and cyberthreats, and included details about open investigations.” Theses were said to include “sensitive information about national security investigations, intelligence gaps regarding hostile foreign intelligence services and terrorist organizations, and the FBI operations to defend the country against counterintelligence and counterterrorism targets.”
The second count “accuses Kingsbury of stealing secret documents containing details about intelligence sources and methods used by the government to collect information on terrorists and terrorist groups, including al-Qaida and suspected associates of Osama bin Laden, and information about emerging al-Qaida groups in Africa.”
It seems to me that having had this happen heads should roll but we hear nothing about that so nothing will change. I would think that this would be national news with editorials demanding a full accounting of how this happened and can happen. Where is the Fourth Estate – @nytimecramer, @washingtonpost, @maddow, @foxnews? Unfortunately, we cannot say we are in good hands if this is how the FBI is still operating.