The Shameful FBI

The Office of the Inspector General of the FBI issued its report on the failures of the FBI in handling the investigation of the sexual assaults of female gymnasts at Michigan State by Dr. Laurence G. Nassar (who now sits in prison for life). Those failures are shocking in either incompetence or callousness or both. The FBI is in shabby condition. Something deeply cultural is wrong in this agency.

Here’s a timeline on what went on as the Nassar serial sexual assault complaints arose:

• In July 2015, following a USA Gymnastics internal investigation into allegations of sexual assault by Nassar against multiple gymnasts, USA Gymnastics President and Chief Executive Officer Stephen D. Penny, Jr., reported the Nassar allegations to the FBI’s Indianapolis Field Office.
• For the next six weeks, the Indianapolis Field Office talked with three gymnasts, kept limited records, and notes and made no further efforts or inquiry.
• The Indianapolis Field Office did not advise state or local authorities about the allegations and did not take any action to mitigate the risk to gymnasts who Nassar continued to treat.
• The Indianapolis agents and Assistant U.S. Attorney (AUSA) determined that, if the FBI had jurisdiction, venue would be most appropriate in the Western District of Michigan and the FBI’s Lansing Resident Agency, where MSU is located and where Nassar treated patients.
• The AUSA advised the Indianapolis Field Office on September 2 to transfer the case to the FBI’s Lansing Resident Agency. However, the Indianapolis Field Office failed to do so, despite informing USA Gymnastics on September 4 that it had transferred the matter to the FBI’s Detroit Field Office.
• After 8 months of no further FBI inactivity, USA Gymnastics officials contacted the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office and met with that office in May 2016 to report the same allegations provided to the Indianapolis Field Office in July 2015.
• When the Los Angeles Field Office contacted the Indianapolis Field Office, the agent in charge said that he had done the paperwork to transfer the case to Detroit. Such transfer paperwork was never located during the investigation.
• The Los Angeles Field Office did open an investigation but did not notify local authorities nor did it take any steps to protect the gymnasts from further contact with Nassar.
• While all of this was going on, an agent in the Indianapolis Field Office, who was nearing retirement, was engaged in discussions with Stephen D. Penny for a job with the U.S. Olympic Committee.
• When the Indianapolis Star broke the Nassar story (and won a Pulitzer for doing so), agents in the Indianapolis Field Office were untruthful in responding to media questions. An agent in the Indianapolis Field Office told a reporter that his office had issued detailed reports to both the Detroit and Los Angeles offices. There were no such reports.
• The Indianapolis Field Office did not document the September 2015 victim interview in a report until 17 months after the interview occurred. The report was drafted in February 2017 and included materially false information and omitted material information.

So, what we have are agents not doing their jobs, lying to others in the agency and to the media, engaging in conflicts of interest as they let allegations lie flat, and backdating reports to make it look like they were doing their jobs. Initially, the Justice Department decided not to prosecute the agents involved. However, on October 5, 2021, the Justice Department announced that it was reviewing its decision not to prosecute.

Add to these shenanigans the Andy McCabe saga. The OIG Report on the shenanigans surrounding the alleged Russian conspiracy concluded that Mr. McCabe “lacked candor” (that would be soft language for “lied) four times, three of which were under oath. Mr. McCabe had been fired and lost his full pension, and the case was referred to the Justice Department for prosecution. The FBI, backed down after Mr. McCabe filed suit. In its infinite wisdom, and perhaps as a means of preserving its poisonous culture, the FBI settled the lawsuit by allowing Mr. McCabe to officially retire, obtain $200,000 in missed pension payments, and have his record expunged of any mention of his firing. If you read the OIG report on his conduct, you will be stunned that the FBI surrendered. Mr. McCabe is not to be trusted.

But there’s more. At the direction of U.S. Attorney General, Merrick Garland, the FBI will be unleashed, with full national security authority, to investigate parents who are showing up at school board meetings to be heard on the content of school curricula, sexual assaults in school bathrooms, and questions about mask requirements. Thank goodness our federal gumshoes are pursuing these scallywags. The national security apparatus let loose on ordinary citizens because of their rhetoric at school board meetings should send a chill down everyone’s spine. Politics aside, these are bad behaviors.

This agency needs a leader. This agency needs to be reined in with discipline doled out and not so easily reversed. This agency is frightening in its utter disrespect of law, order, and rights. Sadly, no one is willing to undertake changes, reforms, terminations, discipline, tear gas, Pine-Sol, and whatever else it takes to clean this joint up and out and restore honor and credibility.

About mmjdiary

Professor Marianne Jennings is an emeritus professor of legal and ethical studies from the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University, retiring in 2011 after 35 years of teaching undergraduate and graduate courses in ethics and the legal environment of business. During her tenure at ASU, she served as director of the Joan and David Lincoln Center for Applied Ethics from 1995-1999. In 2006, she was appointed faculty director for the W.P. Carey Executive MBA Program. She has done consulting work for businesses and professional groups including AICPA, Boeing, Dial Corporation, Edward Jones, Mattel, Motorola, CFA Institute, Southern California Edison, the Institute of Internal Auditors, AIMR, DuPont, AES, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Motorola, Hy-Vee Foods, IBM, Bell Helicopter, Amgen, Raytheon, and VIAD. The sixth edition of her textbook, Case Studies in Business Ethics, was published in February 2011. The ninth edition of her textbook, Business: lts Legal, Ethical and Global Environment was published in January 2011. The 23rd edition of her book, Business Law: Principles and Cases, will be published in January 2013. The tenth edition of her book, Real Estate Law, will also be published in January 2013. Her book, A Business Tale: A Story of Ethics, Choices, Success, and a Very Large Rabbit, a fable about business ethics, was chosen by Library Journal in 2004 as its business book of the year. A Business Tale was also a finalist for two other literary awards for 2004. In 2000 her book on corporate governance was published by the New York Times MBA Pocket Series. Her book on long-term success, Building a Business Through Good Times and Bad: Lessons from Fifteen Companies, Each With a Century of Dividends, was published in October 2002 and has been used by Booz, Allen, Hamilton for its work on business longevity. Her latest book, The Seven Signs of Ethical Collapse was published by St. Martin’s Press in July 2006 and has been a finalist for two book awards. Her weekly columns are syndicated around the country, and her work has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, the Chicago Tribune, the New York Times, Washington Post, and the Reader's Digest. A collection of her essays, Nobody Fixes Real Carrot Sticks Anymore, first published in 1994 is still being published. She has been a commentator on business issues on All Things Considered for National Public Radio. She has served on four boards of directors, including Arizona Public Service (1987-2000), Zealous Capital Corporation, and the Center for Children with Chronic Illness and Disability at the University of Minnesota. She was appointed to the board of advisors for the Institute of Nuclear Power Operators in 2004 and served on the board of trustees for Think Arizona, a public policy think tank. She has appeared on CNBC, CBS This Morning, the Today Show, and CBS Evening News. In 2010 she was named one of the Top 100 Thought Leaders in Business Ethics by Trust Across America. Her books have been translated into four different languages. She received the British Emerald award for authoring one of their top 50 articles in management publications, chosen from over 15,000 articles. Personal: Married since 1976 to Terry H. Jennings, Maricopa County Attorney’s Office Deputy County Attorney; five children: Sarah, Sam, and John, and the late Claire and Hannah Jennings.
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