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Tag: cheating

Head of FBI Agents Association Says Agents Should Take Controversial Test Over; Also Wants to Have Input in Pick of Next FBI Director

Konrad Motyka/ticklethewire.com photo

Konrad Motyka/ticklethewire.com photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — The head of the FBI’s Agents Association said Wednesday that he’d prefer to see all agents retake a controversial open-book test– and that no one be punished.

“Given the publicity, anyone taking the test the next time, there shouldn’t be any confusion as to the procedure,” Association President Konrad Motyka said in an interview Wednesday with ticklethewire.com.  He said the instructions for taking the first test were unclear for some.

The Justice Department’s Inspector General report recently found that a number of FBI agents cheated on the test that was on bureau policies for conducting surveillance on Americans called the Domestic Investigations and Operations Guide (DIOG).

The internal investigation, which focused on four FBI offices, found 22 people cheated, some of whom worked together or got the answers. The FBI is currently reviewing the matter, and is in fact considering having agents retake the test, much to the dismay of the many agents who did not cheat. The test is taken on a computer.

Motyka said of the cheating scandal potentially involves only a minuscule number of the 13,500 agents.

“I don’t think this is a commentary on the integrity of the FBI agents population in any way at all,” said Motyka, an FBI agent based in New York.

But he added: “Any time there’s negative publicity about the FBI, it’s harmful.”

Motyka, speaking in the D.C. law firm of Bracewell & Giuliani, which serves as general counsel for the association, also said the association hopes to have an input in the replacement for  Director Robert S. Mueller III, who finishes up his 10- year term next September.

While he declined to discuss names of potential successors, he said the Association would prefer a law enforcement person, but would not necessarily object to a judge or federal prosecutor. Mueller was a former prosecutor.

“We plan to make our point of view known,” he said.

Some of the names that have surfaced in the media include Chicago U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald, John Pistol, the former number two FBI agent who now heads up the Transportation Security Administration, Frances Fragos Townsend, President Bush’s counterterrorism adviser and former Los Angeles Police Chief William Bratton.

Motyka said the Association also plans to press next year for a Merit System Protection Board right, which would allow agents to appeal disciplinary decisions to an independent board.  Currently, agents can appeal a disciplinary decision, but most must do through the FBI’s internal process.

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

The FBI Cheating Scandal: ticklethewire.com Editor Allan Lengel Interviewed

The FBI Cheating Scandal Probe Began at the Washington Field Office With an “Anonymous Complaint”

FBI's Joseph Persichin Jr./ticklethewire.com photo

FBI's Joseph Persichin Jr./ticklethewire.com photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — A probe into the nationwide FBI test cheating scandal cited in an Inspector General report released Monday began at the Washington field office, just blocks from the Capitol.

The report, which cited widespread cheating on an open book exam nationwide, said the FBI Inspection Division in September 2009 received an anonymous complaint that three top managers at the Washington Field Office (WFO) cheated on the Domestic Investigations and Operations Guide (DIOG), which provides guidelines on surveilling Americans. The bureau allowed agents to refer to reference materials for the open book exam, but not to take it together or get the answers beforehand.

Keith Bryars/fbi photo

Keith Bryars/fbi photo

The report, while not naming names, said two special agents in charge at the Washington Field Office — Keith Bryars and Andrew Castor — had taken the open book exam together “while discussing the questions and possible answers with a legal advisor, who was present.”

It went on to say that the Assistant Director in Charge (ADIC) , Joseph Persichini Jr. was in the room, but did not take the test at the time.

“Instead, the ADIC wrote the answers and later used them to complete the exam another day.” Ticklethwire.com was the first to report on the scandal last November. Castor, Bryars and Persichini have all consistently declined to comment on the matter in the past.

The Inspector General report said one of the special agents in charge “argued, among other things, that he did not cheat because although he had asked the legal advisor to reference the sections in the DIOG for us to use to answer the question” he never asked the legal advisor ‘what the answer was to a particular question.'”

Andrew Castor/fbi photo

Andrew Castor/fbi photo

But the FBI Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) wasn’t buying it, the report said, and concluded that he “violated basic test-taking protocols and constituted cheating.”

The OPR probe found that both SACs violated the FBI policy about making false or misleading statements by certifying in question 51 on the exam that they had not consulted with anyone on the test.  OPR issued a 20 day suspension without pay for both,  and a demotion to a non-supervisory pay grade of GS-13. But the punishment was stayed while they appeal.

Interesting, in the meantime,  both have landed “acting” deputy assistant director jobs — one at headquarters and one at Quantico, Va. Some in the rank and file at the bureau have perceived it as a promotion — a move they think sends the wrong message.

Read more »

Opinions Mixed Inside FBI Over Test Cheating Scandal

Robert Mueller/fbi photo

FBI Dir. Robert S. Mueller III/fbi photo

By Allan Lengel
For AOL News

WASHINGTON — To cheat or not to cheat on an open-book exam.

That is no longer an issue among FBI agents around the country now that the test is long over. Now the question is, should those who did cheat on the FBI exam last year — and they could number in the hundreds — be punished? Opinions inside the bureau are mixed and plentiful.

“I think someone should get punished,” one FBI agent, who asked not to be identified, told AOL News, adding that the instructions for the test on bureau procedures were clear: You had to take it by yourself. “There are agents who worked hard and took the test on their own. There’s no excuse.”

But others disagree, including one agent who said it was “just goofy” to be accused of cheating on an open-book, multiple-choice exam. Another agent concurred, saying “the whole test is a joke” and that some employees may have found the test-taking instructions confusing and should simply be required to retake the exam if they collaborated with others.

To read more click here.

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

Column: Ex-FBI Official Mike Mason Says Investigating Cheating Would Be Waste of Time and Money; Better to Re-Administer Test

Mike Mason/fbi photo
Mike Mason/fbi photo

Michael Mason, a former assistant director in charge of the FBI’s Washington field office, retired as the executive assistant director at FBI headquarters in 2007. His column is in response to the Justice Department investigation into whether potentially  hundreds of FBI agents cheated on an open book test on a computer they took without supervision. Some may have worked with others or gotten answers in advance, a violation of FBI policy.

By Michael Mason
For ticklethewire.com

I was reading your blog today and wanted to respond to the issue about the testing problem at the FBI.

I sincerely believe it would be a complete waste of time and money to further investigate the potential of additional cheating on the Domestic Investigations and Operations Guide (DIOG) examination.

Whereas I do not condone cheating, the objective of this “test” was to ensure all agents and analysts had a thorough understanding of the rules of the road according to the DIOC.

Failure was not an option.

As such, employees who failed the test were required to re-take it until they achieved a passing grade. Rather than go through an unnecessarily long and deliberate investigation to determine who else may have cheated, why not simply re-administer the test, under controlled conditions, to the entire relevant employee population.

I was formerly responsible for running the Washington Field Office and retired as an Executive Assistant Director of the FBI, so I am completely familiar with size and scope of this recommendation.

There would be a need for multiple test dates in each field office and other logistical requirements which are by no means beyond the ability of smart people to arrange.

There will undoubtedly be howls of protest from employees who did not cheat in the first place, but that is a relatively small price to pay to resolve this issue and to give the assurance that the test has been correctly administered to everyone.

Further adding to the need to think a bit differently here is that no inquiry will identify everyone who may have cheated.

Is not a controlled administering of the test a simple, straightforward manner of getting to the aforementioned objective of ensuring that all who pass the DIOG examination have done so without any unauthorized assistance?

I hope this matter will not be used as simply another opportunity to embarrass the Bureau. Sometimes external investigations are required, regardless of the consequences.

However, this is categorically not one of those times. There is far too much important work to be done by the FBI to have the entire agency distracted by this “investigation.”

Mueller Says Agents Are Helping in Probe into Leaks of Afghanistan Documents

Mueller testifying on Wed./ticklethewire.com photo

Mueller testifying on Wed./ticklethewire.com photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III said Wednesday that his agents were assisting the Department of Defense in a controversial leak investigation into the ream of documents that were leaked on the Afghanistan war.

Testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee, he also acknowledged a Justice Department probe into the possibility that agents around the country may have cheated on an open book test on FBI procedures. When pressed, he said it was unclear how many agents were involved, but the Associated Press reported that the Justice Department was looking at hundreds of agents to determine whether they cheated.

He also told Senators that that agents were not targeting people for investigations based on race, contrary to allegations by some groups.

In all, the exchanges between Mueller and Senators was amicable and several complimented him for being an outstanding public servant.

Mueller diplomatically sidestepped a question by Sen. Al Franken, who asked him his opinion on whether “enhanced” interrogation techniques in questioning terrorists was effective. Mueller simply said that he felt the FBI’s techniques — which do not involve torture — were effective.