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More Scandal: Justice Dept. Investigating Whether 100s of FBI Agents Cheated on Open Book Test

fbi logo largeBy Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — There appears to be more scandal in the air relating to allegations of FBI agents cheating on an open book test.

The Associated Press is reporting that the Justice Department is investigating whether hundreds of FBI agents cheated on a test on the bureau’s policies about conducting surveillance and probes without evidence of a crime being committed. Specifically, the test is on the Domestic Investigations and Operation Guide.

The news comes after ticklethewire.com first reported in November that three top officials at the Washington field office had allegedly been caught cheating on the test.

The top official, Joseph Persichini Jr., headed the field office, retired last Christmas before a final resolution could be reached in the internal probe. Two of his special agents in charge, Keith Bryars and Andrew Castor, were removed and sent to headquarters pending an appeal of the findings of an internal probe.

The allegations at the time were that the  three high-ranking officials may have received help on the  exam from an FBI lawyer, and may have some how worked together, a clear violation of agency rules.

Agents say the open-book test can take up to four hours, and is supposed to be taken on their own on a computer. They can look up answers, but are not allowed to work together or rely on answers provided by others. All agents take the test including FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III.

The Associated Press reported that in some cases agents worked together. The news agency also reported that the FBI Agents Association president Konrad Motyka wrote in his letter that in Columbia, S.C., agents printed the test in advance to use as a study guide.

“There are similar stories for practically every office, demonstrating the pervasive confusion and miscommunication that existed,” Motyka wrote.

FBI Director Mueller, testifying Wednesday morning before the Senate Judiciary Committee, said he was aware of the investigation, but was not certain how many agents may have violated the bureau guidelines while taking the test.

The AP reported that Motyka urged the inspector general to focus on the FBI’s “systemic failure” to administer the test without rules.

He urged that agents not be punished “because of a failure to effectively communicate the rules,” he wrote.

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