Special Agent Jane Turner vs. The FBI

Before Coleen Rowley, another whistleblower rose from the ranks of the Minneapolis FBI division. Retired agent Jane Turner talks at length for the first time about the Bureau's good old boy management culture--and how it goes about silencing its internal

Turner: It was shortly after I reopened and successfully investigated that closed child abuse case I mentioned. Until we closed that case, for a period of several months, the three-year-old victim had been placed back into the perpetrator's household and allowed to remain there with someone who had inflicted terrible rectal injuries on him. That, to me, is totally unacceptable and morally indefensible.

I brought my superiors all the information and corroboration that this case had been closed based on a declination from a federal attorney who had been told [by an FBI agent] that the injuries were suffered in a car accident. I brought corroboration that it was actually sexual abuse by a family member, and corroboration that the interviews allegedly obtained by the agent were false. I brought that all to the attention of management, and their response was to paint me as a whistleblower and to try to protect the reputation of the FBI. It was a duck-and-cover. The actual declination letter disappeared from the file. It was removed by somebody. So management could say the case had never been closed, and therefore there was no malfeasance. They obstructed justice. That was their answer to my concerns.

CP: So it was very much a "kill the messenger" culture.

Diana Watters

Turner: Oh, definitely. In the FBI we have a history of that. Fred Whitehurst, who blew the whistle on the lab problems, John Roberts, who blew the whistle on the inequality of discipline or accountability for FBI management members--there's a long list of people who have attempted to blow the whistle and were absolutely destroyed. In my case, they rewrote personnel details, such as the arrest of Christopher Boyce. They said I was delusional, because I was never really there.

In 1999, I got in contact with the director of the FBI and other highly placed FBI personnel. That seemed to put the nail in my coffin, because the contacts I made--with the director, with Thomas Pickard and others in OPR--were immediately routed back to the very people I had lodged the original complaints against. It all resulted in more retaliation and retribution. The more I pushed, the more the retaliation escalated. It resulted in a forced transfer, a national security background check, a Fitness For Duty, just a whole series of punitive things. A gradual ratcheting down of performance ratings, when I had statistics that were not only as good as those of others, but higher.

They rewrite what they want to rewrite. They deny what they want to deny. They distort what they want to distort. It's what my mom calls the Golden Rule: He with the gold rules. And the Bureau has all the power. In my case, they used it in a criminal manner.

CP: Did you understand from the start that there was a backlash from management, or were you behind the curve in seeing that?

Turner: I was behind the curve at all times. There were documents being filed that I had no clue about. The forced transfer was a bolt out of the blue. I was called right before Christmas and told, You're going to report down here. I'd just purchased a house. That was a real hard shot. And then there were these documents filed with FBI HQ, which I subsequently got under civil suit--it turns out that false documents had been filed [about me], documents known to be untrue. So it was a vicious attempt to discredit me and destroy my reputation by misusing the process. And they did. Management utilized Bureau resources and manpower to try to neutralize me and my accusations.

But I still didn't see it even when I was transferred, because I was brought down under the premise that [the Minneapolis office] needed me to run their crimes-against-children program. That was my expertise and I'd done very well up there. Meanwhile there was all this paperwork being sent to headquarters saying, You know, she's not performing, or she did this and this--and it wasn't true.

I was totally unaware that all this stuff was going on. The Fitness For Duty, totally unaware that was being filed. Nobody ever talked to me about these concerns. They told me that they needed me down here, not that it was a matter of performance issues or anything that was wrong up there.

CP: So when you got to Minneapolis and saw that you were being ostracized by your new colleagues, what did you make of it?

Turner: I thought it was a misunderstanding, and that as soon as they looked at all this documentation, right would prevail. I figured all along the way, when I was talking to Pickard and Louis Freeh and my own SAC and supervisor and saying, there's possible obstruction of justice, there's theft of property--I kept thinking, one of these days someone is going to shake my hand and say, you held to your oath and you made the Bureau a better place.

The only time someone took my hand was to lead me out the door and slam it behind me.

CP: Besides shunning casual contact with you, and the eventual Fitness For Duty evaluation, what else did management do to let you know you were unwelcome?

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