Column: Mother of FBI Agent Says Agency Did Daughter Wrong: Questions Whether FBI Dir. Mueller Should Get Extension

Irene Foley is the mother of FBI agent Theresa Foley, the first full-time female FBI agent to be stationed at Guantanamo. Theresa Foley 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.   Irene Foley now says Director Robert S. Mueller was unresponsive to the family regarding  her daughter’s problems and questions whether he should get a two-year extension.

Theresa Foley/family photo
By Irene Foley

I am writing regarding the stories and news that FBI Director Robert Mueller would be extending his term. I am from a law enforcement family, a son and daughter-in-law, who are Police Officers, and more to the point, a daughter, who is an FBI Agent, Theresa Foley.

I feel I must comment as a Mother at this stage, personally, regarding the extension of Director Mueller. After reading his statement before the Judiciary, on everything that is right with the FBI, I couldn’t help but note, no queries on what is wrong.

As noted, I am the Mother of an FBI Special Agent, Theresa Ann Foley. She has been in our care, since her return from Guantanamo Bay Cuba in 2004. She will soon be undergoing her 8th surgery due to the actions, of “a contingent of bad agents”.

This statement was relayed to us by a former Associate Deputy Director. Her story is well known to those in “leadership” at the FBI. However, that leadership failed this family greatly.

Theresa was the first, full-time female Agent assigned to Guantanamo. The housing she was placed in was the worst, we were told, badly infested with rats in a condition that should have been condemned.

Due to this, Theresa contracted the rat borne illness Leptospirosis. This has all been documented. Due to over exposure it went into a “stage three”.

Additionally, Theresa was treated as documented by management and fellow agents, in a manner, which should not be acceptable or allowed in the FBI.

This treatment led to a horrific incident in May 2004 regarding firearms. Again, this has all been documented. This, compounded with months of “bad behavior”, lead Theresa to be returned to us extremely ill and in our care, since July 2004.

I note that after the first surgery, in July 2004, not one call came from FBI GTMO Management nor FBIHQ to see where their Agent was, or what was “going on”.

We knew, as a family then, that something had gone horribly wrong with Theresa at Guantanamo. She was never able to return.

We knew that the FBI realized what had gone on, but would never admit to any wrongdoing. It was our aggressive search for the truth and justice that led to an investigation being conducted and the late Senator Kennedy to urge the FBI to find the “lost paperwork”.

I, myself, spent many years working in law enforcement, and as a citizen and Mother, I have been appalled at the actions of the FBI, most notably, Director Robert Mueller.

Leadership is supposed to start at the top and “trickle down”. We find a lack of leadership with what has occurred to Theresa. And that seems to be continuing. As Theresa noted, “the chain of command was broken”.

Regarding Mr. Mueller’s extension, and those in Congress who simply do not ask those difficult questions, frankly, I wish I had been at the hearing Wednesday, for I would indeed ask him a few questions.

He has failed this family as a leader. I realize, some may say that is a “personal “ statement, however, again as a Mother, I feel I have the right due to what this family has personally witnessed. We all travelled down to Quantico to watch Theresa achieve her dream. We never imagined it would end up like this.

This family wrote the Director on numerous occasions looking for help with Theresa, looking for some answers, looking for justice, and he never had the time nor the inclination to answer any of these respectful letters.

My son Thomas, a decorated Sgt. in Boston, called, wrote, and received not one reply. We all tried.

The Director was even in Boston, quite a few years ago, and never took the time to meet with Theresa and see the results of “bad behavior”.

Theresa was told long ago, that no one wanted to tell him the truth of what goes on “inside”. However, you can only ignore it for so long, and we feel, he indeed does know, but chooses to do nothing about it.

To be a leader, one must go against the grain. One must rise above and “do the right thing”. We only met one individual in the FBI who reflected this, and his name was Joseph Ford. However, he retired, but he knew Theresa had reported the truth. He advised us to not take ‘no’ for an answer and to not give up. Thus,  we filed a lawsuit in Federal Court in 2009. It was a sad day for this family.

Theresa has no contact with the FBI. Those that came, met her once, saw the truth, and we were told the comments were, perhaps she will die and go way

The last visit was with a former SAC in Boston. This was in 2008. In 2009 he wrote that he “had to stay away due to the legal” issues. We wonder, what the definition of leadership is in the FBI.

We do.  They can laud all the praises their way they want, all the stats, all the successful investigations, but it is the integrity of the institution which reflects what is going on “inside”. We have found that integrity to be sorely questionable.

I, myself, have attended every appointment with her, sat in many waiting rooms as she undergoes surgery. I  spent many a day in a hospital room waiting and wishing for the Daughter that once was.

I have listened as they have told her that her leg is permanently damaged, due to a group of men telling her if she didn’t kneel for firearms, her “fitness for duty” would be called into question.

Her legs were swollen with the rat virus, yet, they knew if she knelt, it would harm her and they did it.

The brace she sports and cane reflect all of this. The girl that loved to run cannot do that anymore.

It wasn’t due to the “subject of an investigation”, it was due to the hate filled actions of a group of men who should never carry a badge.

I have had many an emergency room visit as the “infection” has taken hold and caused many a complication. I have watched as she has been told she needs surgery after surgery, a rod and plate in her spine and the loss of internal organs.

I have watched her proceed on and tell a U.S. Federal Magistrate, when asked what she wants, she replies with that word “justice”.

I have heard cries of injustice and many a moment of pain, all the result of a grop of Law Enforcement Officers, FBI Agents, who simply deemed her “inferior” to them. ”

They then proceeded to lie about it. I have witnessed her silence, that look in her eyes, telling me, she is thinking of “days gone by” and what she “used to be”.

Theresa arrived on Guantanamo full of life and whole. However, one of these Agents stated, “she arrived on Guantanamo bent over and carrying a plastic bag full of meds”. Another stated, “it was their belief that SA Foley fabricated her illness so she wouldn’t have to return to Guantanamo”.

These individuals actually took an oath and the FBI stands by them.

Theresa spent 13 years at DEA. She was not “new” to law enforcement, she was not “thin skinned” as some comments on the xgboys suggested. She would not be still here if she were “thin skinned”. Yet, this is the best the FBI can come up with. This is not law enforcement at its finest.

We again read “Tickle the Wire” and note the many instances of FBI misconduct and wonder why Congress doesn’t ask those all-important questions. “What indeed is going on inside the FBI”?

We shake our heads as a family and wonder.

Theresa, ever the believer, has stated, there is good in the Bureau. However, her faith has been shattered with a law enforcement organization, which supports bad behavior, covers it, and stands by those who violate the very oath they take to uphold the Constitution. There is no justice in the Department of Justice.

I have often said on many a day, how do you receive a letter from the Mother and Father of an injured Agent and not answer it, not take that Mother’s phone calls, not attempt to meet with Theresa and see the truth. I’ll never know the answer to this question.

The last phone call placed by my son, was met with a “secretary” who said “what does she want”. Again, this is the best they can come up with?

The only good thing about Director Mueller extending his term is that he, along with the two below him, will be close at hand to appear in court in DC where the lawsuit is, and will be asked those difficult questions.

Mr. Tim  Murphy, an FBI official,  knows, well over three years ago he sat in my kitchen and said he “would look into it” and that he was glad to “put a face to a name”. We never heard from him again. Perhaps when I see Mr. Murphy in court, he can advise me if he indeed has “looked into it”.

Bottom line: Shame on Congress for not seeing what’s right in front of them. A man, whom they all admit has greatly changed the FBI. However, this family gravely knows  it is for the worse.

I find that he would rather sit before Congress and give the “everything is great speech” then meet with a Mother, whose child has been forever changed by the behavior of those Mr. Mueller supports. It is far easier to go with those that lie and dishonor the badge than to go with the one who has told the truth.

They returned our daughter to us broken, which is what we consider them to be, broken.

Thank you for “listening” to this Mother.

Irene and Thomas Foley

For the entire Foley Family

Roslindale, MA

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