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Column: FBI Agent Critical of Ex-Official Defending the Agency

FBI agent Theresa Foley was the first full-time female FBI agent to be stationed at Guantanamo. She has filed a lawsuit against the Justice Department, saying she was made to bunk with vermin that gave her a tropical disease. Theresa Foley has undergone multiple surgeries since contracting the disease and has been disabled and is living with her parents. She claims her disease was made worse when the FBI refused to let her stand and instead made her kneel in the traditional stance during firearms qualification.The lawsuit also says she was ostracized for refusing to join in a “spring break” atmosphere in which agents were encouraged to drink, date and frolic during off hours.Her lawsuit alleges sexual discrimination and harassment, employment discrimination based on disability and gender and retaliation. 

Theresa Foley/family photo

 
By Theresa Foley
For ticklethewire.com

My name is Theresa Foley and many months ago you printed a letter my Mother wrote regarding the extension of FBI Director Mueller and her thoughts as to what occurred to me on Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

It was a sad letter for me to read and several weeks after that I underwent a difficult surgery, thus never wrote. In the past week Mr. Ross Parker commented on the Penn State scandal, mentioning FBI Special Agent Jane Turner and all she had been through.

Mr. Michael Mason responded to this, affronted that the FBI was likened to the Penn State situation due to the reference from Ms. Turner that “It takes enormous strength to put one’s moral integrity over your personal inclination to protect fellow colleagues who have committed malfeasance, or criminal activity…It simply boils down to the fact that those in power have a stronger desire to preserve the reputation of their institution, than taking the road of truth or justice. Entities like Penn State, the Catholic Church and the FBI all share something in common; they operate in an insular world where rules or laws that apply to everyone else, do not apply to them.”

As my Mother noted, I was an FBI Agent assigned to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. I was assigned out of the Washington Field Office, when Mr. Mason was ADIC (Assistant Director in Charge).

Frankly, I was disappointed in his column, but not surprised in his defense of the FBI, praising Jane Turner at the end, but disagreeing with her statement. A jury agreed with Ms. Turner, yet to this day, no individuals have ever been held accountable for what occurred with her.

Due to legal issues, I will not comment on those in leadership at the WFO who could have stepped in and obtained some justice.

Their answer, in the few meetings reportedly held regarding what occurred with me, was to tell those who spoke up for me to “back off” and to transfer me. I found the chain of command to be broken, from Guantanamo to WFO, to FBIHQ, Boston and back.

I hope they are at peace exiting those meetings with their lack of truth seeking. One does not become a leader in the FBI speaking out about bad behavior, malfeasance and criminal conduct. Once you speak out, your career is over. Quite a few can attest to this, and the trial of Jane Turner is just a small indication of what goes on once you report “bad behavior”.

I arrived on Guantanamo in the fall of 2003 full of life and whole. I left almost ten months later, never to return, ill, broken and beat down. I arrived idealistically with the idea that it was the most important assignment in the FBI due to the war on terror.

I simply believed we were there for the support of our troops overseas, who give of themselves with their lives everyday. I simply thought if they were coming home to the many cemeteries around this country, that I should give it my all. I did not fit in, for I was not part of the “party atmosphere”. This has all been documented and reported. I didn’t arrive, as was noted in a sworn statement by an Agent “bent over and carrying a plastic bag full of meds”. I did not arrive sick with the rat virus and with a broken spine.

Yet FBI Leadership, DOJ Leadership, never put together the obvious dots in this investigation. The original filing was lost and it was not until the late Senator Kennedy became involved that it was found. The same for my benefits, they were not provided until he encouraged the FBI to find the lost paperwork. The many instances of retaliation would fill a book.

Yet, as with Jane Turner, that book is rewritten and the investigation turned on the one who speaks up. As was noted with me, a member of FBI management advised “Theresa they are circling the wagons and turning the investigation on you”. I guess when they ask about tags on the clothes in your closet and many other improper questions, that this relates to what went on on Guantanamo. In July 2004, upon my first surgery off of Guantanamo, I shall remember my Mother stating to me while still in the hospital,

“Theresa, it’s been a week and no call or contact from the FBI”. I simply replied idealistically and unaware of the chain of events that would happen, “Mom, don’t worry, once FBIHQ gets wind of this they will take care of business.” The business they took care of was protecting those that acted as such. They circled the wagons.

I am the product of no oversight and no accountability. I am what happens when you allow a group of individuals, who are tasked with the grave responsibility of upholding the law, to interpret the law as they see fit and as to how they feel. I am what happens when that insular world protects them and you report wrongdoing, you report the truth. I reported the truth as to what occurred to me on Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. I was naïve and ignorant for I believed that the FBI wanted to hear the truth and would “take care of business”. I soon found out that was not the case. I was viciously retaliated against leading to horrible physical injury. As with Jane Turner, no one was ever disciplined. I went to the Office of Attorney Recruitment and Management (OARM), actually my parents did all of this, for I was too ill. They advised the long process for Whistleblower claims, etc., thus I put my faith in DOJ. I queried why I even needed Whistleblower protection to those in OPR, “Why do I need Whistleblower protection for I am just reporting the truth”. I wish I had taken the class on truth-telling at FBI Quantico. Apparently I missed it. If you assume by telling the truth you are protected you are wrong.

Due to my physical, as well as legal, I have remained silent while my Mother continues to be vocal and fights for me. Mothers do that. She was correct when she stated that she has sat with me on many a painful moment, in many a hospital room, in many an emergency room, in many physician’s offices and by my bed on many a pain filled day and night.

She has waited during the many surgeries, wishing and hoping for the daughter that once was. I have no doubt she has seen that look in my eyes and wonders if I will ever return. I am often asked for that one word that describes the horror of the past, now eight years, and it is devastation. I am asked if I would do it again, the truth-telling, the speaking up, and I always state no, yes that word, no.

I applaud the Jane Turner’s and others who state they would do it again, that it is about honor and integrity and following that oath. However, after what I have witnessed, from the behavior on Guantanamo, from DOJ, the United States Attorney, WFO, Boston and back, I would not do it again. I was injured and had no choice.

 

 

 

The one entity I thought would address the FBI never does, and that is Congress. Senator Grassley is the only Senator to publicly ask the FBI about the many instances of “bad behavior” which are brought to his attention. The late Senator Kennedy’s office noted that the FBI is notoriously slow in answering any communications requested of them. I wonder how a group of individuals, which is supposed to conduct oversight and provide those “checks and balances” does not demand and expect more from such an organization. I wonder at the United States Attorney General that supports such behavior and never demands accountability. Instead they make sure the FBI has a defense team in support of them. It is far easier to support the group that lies and dishonors the badge than to go with the one who has told the truth.

 

 

 

Many are familiar with the Whitey Bulger case in Boston, yet when a jury awarded a settlement to the families affected by the wrongdoing of the FBI, the FBI fought it and appealed it until it went in their favor. Congressman Stephen Lynch filed a bill asking for the money to be awarded. The fact that a member of Congress has to file a bill for restitution for these families should not be acceptable, yet it is. Why, because it is the FBI and they are never held accountable for any wrongdoing, plain and simple. My case has been going on now for almost eight years, and will continue, I am sure, quite a few more. They delay, change venues, and “circle the wagons”. Personal statements, but born from experience. It’s been a very painful lesson.

 

 

 

Russ Parker’s letter is commendable, but I would caution anyone who wants to report “criminal behavior” amongst their own, to read my case and that of Jane Turner, read about Mr. Kobus who was relegated to the 24 th floor. I was relegated to a rat-infested housing unit, and dared to complain about it. The documented treatment after this has brought about grave harm, yet all were cleared of any wrongdoing, promoted, given bonus’ while I was made to suffer. It does not take a criminal investigator to note, that something is not right with this “picture”. It does not take a brain surgeon to witness all contact cut, while those involved go on with stellar careers.

 

 

 

Did they come to the FBI bad, I don’t know. However we gave them a great message in supporting what that did to me, in supporting those that acted criminally regarding Jane Turner, we send the message, once you have that badge, you can do what you want, we will stand by you. I know they didn’t stand behind me, the Agent that reported the truth. I again don’t know that I could do it again, the pain and suffering have been beyond what words can describe. My Mother documented everything as it has been. Yet, those involved in what occurred with me, had amnesia and could not recall. I recall their many words, “you’re not going out on the pontoon boats, you’re not going to our social events, you’re not being part of the GTMO family”. It was dysfunctional.

 

 

 

I often wish there had been one on Guantanamo to speak up for me, “hey you can’t put her in that house it should be condemned”, “you shouldn’t and cannot treat her as such”, “that agent shouldn’t go after her like that”, “you can’t tell her her fitness for duty is on the line if she can’t kneel for firearms”, yet not one individual did this, and there was quite a group of them. As a matter of fact, it was within a group that the decision was made to tell me to kneel for firearms. Yet no one, but no one spoke up. Their beloved careers meant so much. They care more about the JEH Movie and how it portrays the FBI than they do about what goes on inside. Mom was correct, the integrity of the institution is questionable, it is.

 

 

 

I realize there is good within the FBI, but also realize even the good ones will not speak up. They know if they do, their career is over. I unfortunately became ill due to their malfeasance and was continuously treated “bad” even to this day. It speaks volumes that not one member of the FBI has ever “stepped up to the plate” for me or my family. This never had to happen, and I often note, if it were a male Special Agent, it would have been dealt with. My Mother was correct, the several in leadership that came to our residence, ran away. Only one, Joseph Ford, showed any type of leadership. He admitted “I ran into a contingent of bad agents”. The last one, said he would look into it. He went into private sector, so I’m sure he left the “look into file” behind. It’s shameful. I realize those with the great careers will defend the FBI, will defend any of their actions, but those words are empty. I don’t know how many times Congress has to hear the above and not realize they have a problem. I watched an individual appear before Congress from some hearing on the news, and her statement was “no offense, but the American people have lost faith in you”. All one has to do is watch the “60 Minutes” feature on “insider trading” within Congress and know, you can’t expect much when you leave a fox to watch the hen house. I was wrong to think that Congress would step in and demand some accountability. I was wrong to think the FBI would care about agents sullying their reputation. The leadership of the FBI should have cared about their reputation and how it affects cases. One member of management stated to me “unfortunately we have to hire from the human race”. I replied, “that when you govern the laws that run the human race, you need to be above that, you do.”

 

 

 

I have been asked what is the worst part, all the surgeries, the loss of internal organs, all the pain, the horror of this lost life, however, I always note, it’s that my own did it to me, with forethought and malice, with intent to harm me, and with the belief that I would not dare report it. This was all because I did not fit what they wanted on Guantanamo, I can’t apologize for that. I just wanted to work. Although many moments I thought I would not make it, I need to sit on the stand in Federal Court and face them. They need to be dealt with, publicly and by a jury of my peers. They had no right to change this one life I was given.

 

 

 

A week ago Monday, my Brother, Sgt. Detective Thomas Foley, received the Hanna Award at the Massachusetts State House. The States highest award given to the bravest. It was his third such acceptance of this award. I am often likened to him, that honor and hard work. I am forever grateful that he belongs to a police department where they watch out for each other and “watch your back” . I am forever grateful that he has been fortunate enough to work with a group of individuals who would not put his life on the line to save themselves or to enhance their career. Thankfully, he has come through the door at the end of many a shift, thankfully he works with a contingent of good cops. I wish I could have said the same. I could not attend, as I have missed many things in life due to my physical status. Several times, they have been kind enough to bring me, and I sit in a wheelchair and end up with quiet tears rolling down my face. I’m often asked, are you in pain, is everything OK? I do not answer, for no everything is not OK. This never had to happen. The fact that the Department of Justice, the United States Attorney General and all leadership of the FBI accepts this is a bold statement on what they choose to believe and how they look at those that dare to speak the truth.

Bottom line, the defenders of the FBI are just that, defending an idea and what the FBI once was. Unfortunately, the good Agents have to pay the price.

My Mother was correct, the FBI returned me to my family broken, which is what, sadly and with grave disappointment, we consider them to be.

 

 

 

 


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