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FBI agents show support for Mueller

From Terry Frieden
CNN Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The FBI Agents Association, which represents thousands of rank-and-file agents, issued a statement Monday strongly supporting FBI Director Robert Mueller and the sweeping reforms he announced last week.

At the same time, it praised Minneapolis agent Coleen Rowley for her open criticisms of FBI headquarters.

"Director Mueller deserves support for these needed reform initiatives, not calls for his resignation," said Nancy Savage, president of the FBI Agents Association in the statement.

Savage, an agent in Eugene, Oregon, and five other board members of the association said they issued the statement partly in response to the call for Mueller's resignation by the Wall Street Journal editorial board.

"The organizational moves being made within the FBI to elevate intelligence analysis and give needed operational authorities to the field are vital changes, and do not threaten the constitutional rights of any American citizen," the association said.

Executive Director Glenn Kelly stressed that the organization, which represents the vast majority of agents nationwide, has wide latitude to speak out and did so without any urging from top FBI executives.

"This is something the agents felt strongly about, and they wanted to be heard," Kelly told CNN.

The association represents about 8,600 of the more than 11,000 agents nationwide and is an independent organization funded by membership dues outside the FBI.

The statement also displayed the group's willingness to take a stand against existing FBI management structures, praising agent Rowley and Phoenix agent Ken Williams.

Rowley openly scolded FBI headquarters for blocking an aggressive investigation of terrorist suspect Zacarias Moussaoui in Minnesota.

Williams wrote the "Phoenix memo" warning of a possible tie between terrorists and U.S. flight schools -- a warning largely ignored at FBI headquarters.

"Agents Rowley and Williams are widely respected and highly regarded within the FBI and each one should be applauded for their service and their dedication to our nation," the association said.

The statement appeared to echo many of the complaints Rowley outlined in her 13-page letter, but stopped short of saying the September 11 attacks might have been discovered.

"We were aware of the presence of some suspicious actors here before September 11, but we were constrained by intelligence-gathering restrictions and a disjointed and ill-equipped intelligence apparatus at our headquarters that got in the way of being about to put two and two together," Savage said in the statement.




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