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

I came back and said I couldn't do it. Fireballs came down. My life was hell.

My supervisor brought me in and told me the senior management hated me. He made me cry. He had me in his office for three hours while he told me everything, called me everything, denigrated me, said nobody likes me. He said, the front office [in Minneapolis] feels you are "evil." He said it was not a performance issue, it was a management issue. And after about two and a half hours, I started to cry. And I said, Okay, I give up. I want back in.

He said, It may be too late. I'll talk to them. He came back the next day and said, It's too late. He never explained. A lot of paper had already been put in. Things had been rolling from the time I put in the complaint up there [in Minot], and I just wasn't aware of it. I had no idea what was going on in the background.

Diana Watters

CP: So you were pretty much already done in politically when the Ground Zero theft case came up?

Turner: Yes. And I think that [case] really shocked them. The first performance evaluation [after my return from suspension], [my supervisor] had a problem getting it by management, because they wanted me out. They needed to discredit me to make my allegations against them not credible. And they had to attack me personally to do that. [My supervisor] had gone to management and said, I can't bang her. She's doing too good a job. He told me that. And he said to me, Please don't prove me wrong.

That was at three months. After another 60 days I was supposed to get another review, but things were going swimmingly. I had evidence stacked up, Coleen Rowley had gone back to Washington and mentioned this [Ground Zero] case as one of the biggest cases happening in Minneapolis. Ground Zero was getting huge play on the East Coast. So people were just starting to warm up. At first people said they were warned not to talk to me. I said, I understand. So if I met with anybody, we had to meet in the women's bathroom. If I did have any conversations, that's where I'd have them--with another female agent, or with clerical staff.

I was just getting to the point with this huge successful case where people were starting to warm up a little bit. I wasn't asked to lunch or anything, but I could tell there was a thaw. My supervisor, instead of being very rigid, now was more conversational, kinder, warmer. Before, he wouldn't even take a cup of coffee from me, but now I could take him a cup of coffee. As soon as I left his office, he no longer started writing things down immediately.

And as this little thaw was occurring, I came around the corner one day and took this path I normally didn't take through this squad down the hall from ours, and saw on a secretary's desk this artifact that was really unusual. I said, what is that? It was on a pedestal. I thought it was something that had been used in target practice. It had what looked like .22 caliber fractures in it. She said, it's from Ground Zero. I knew what these artifacts were worth, and I was stunned to see one here in Minnesota. I asked her, How did you get it? She said, One of the guys on the evidence response team gave it to me. And I said, Who? She said, You'll just get him in trouble. My reputation obviously preceded me.

I said [to an FBI manager], If I get up on the stand and they bring that [globe incident] up, this is going to make the Bureau look like a donkey's you-know-what. He agreed with me that there was a problem. Our management did nothing. That thing still sat there. A period of time passed, and then I, along with the FEMA agent who I was working with on this case, removed the globe from the desk where it was sitting--long after we had advised management--tagged it, bagged it, and gave it to the DOJ IG.

Sometimes FBI agents--you know, it's like a war trophy. You know what I'm saying? It proves you're special. You were in a situation that very few people had access to. But the fact remained, you could not have people removing artifacts from crime scenes. We have no right.

About a month later, that's when I got this note that I embarrassed the Bureau. And that I had performance issues. It wasn't true, but how else could they get me? Could they say, You embarrassed the Bureau, so you're fired? No. So they called it performance issues, and I was gone, and this time I didn't come back.

CP: Talk a little about the emotional and physical toll of these battles.

Turner: You know, I have fibromyalgia, which is related to stress. I have stress-induced asthma. I have severe post-traumatic stress, which has created a host of problems. Weakened immune system. High blood pressure. Skin problems. Digestive problems. My self-confidence is diminished. I just don't have the intuitive abilities I used to have with respect to law enforcement.

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