By William Mayer and Beila Rabinowitz
May 26, 2008 - San Francisco, CA - PipeLineNews.org - For five years now, Bassem Youssef - a Coptic Christian - chief of the agency's Communications Analysis Unit [CAU] and its highest ranking level 4 Arab speaker, has been carrying on a harmful, so far legally fruitless, public war of attrition against his employer, intent upon proving he is the victim of discrimination and related fallout, solely based upon his Egyptian ethnicity.
In the days after September 11, Youssef became convinced that he had been denied promotion to a position within the Bureau's International Terrorism Operations Section [ITOS] for which he thought he was uniquely qualified because of his Arab language skills. This led to his filing of an Equal Employment Opportunity lawsuit and in 2003 another, under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act alleging discrimination and job retaliation.
Working hand-in-hand with an ideologically friendly media, Youssef and his agents - primarily his attorney Stephen M. Kohn - Director of the lefty Whistleblowers.org - has wrapped himself into the relentless political attack on the Bush Administration's war on Islamic terror, especially regarding the Patriot Act and its surveillance provisions.
In his public and written pronouncements Youssef has imputed sinister motives to the FBI's efforts to deal with the international and domestic jihad carried out by radical Muslims.
While engaged in this campaign, Mr. Youssef has spent an inordinate amount of time away from his job - an important analytical position - which when combined with his increasingly hostile attitude, raises serious questions regarding his stated devotion to the FBI and in a larger sense, its law enforcement responsibility of defending the United States in a post 9/11 world.
Though somewhat limited by order of the FBI as to what he can say publicly, Youssef is out on the hustings; at an appearance earlier this year at the American Library Association - a group noted for its hostility to the Patriot Act - and just last week, in testimony before the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security, he continues to air his version of the FBI's dirty laundry.
Youssef presented his case before the Subcommittee, chaired by John Conyers, a strident partisan Democrat from Michigan's 14th Congressional district [which includes the heavily Muslim Dearborn, "Dearbornistan" a hotbed of Hezbollah support] and leader of the effort to impeach President Bush. Demonstrative of the circles in which Youssef now travels, the hearings also featured the testimony of Michael German another malcontent former FBI agent now curiously employed by the ACLU, whose terror expert credentials rely upon a degree in philosophy from Wake Forest and having investigated, while an agent, domestic white Nazi skinhead gangs.
In his May 21 statement Youssef, through his attorney Kohn, charged that the FBI, "cannot properly protect the United States from another catastrophic and direct attack from Middle Eastern terrorists...is inexcusably understaffed," causing the, "mismanagement of the FBI's Counterterrorism program," which has resulted in the, "systemic and needless violation of the civil liberties of thousands of Americans, the misidentification of threats against the United States and repeated sloppy mistakes within the counterterrorism program." [source, Statement On Behalf of Bassem Youssef]
Accompanying this general broadside Youssef and Kohn alleged over a dozen additional deficiencies regarding how the FBI deals with international terrorism.
Despite such fire and bluster, upon examination, many of the facts of the case undermine Youssef's credibility and expertise as an authority regarding counter-terrorism, not the least of these is the manner in which he has pursued this matter.
From the inception of this campaign, Youssef demonstrated an intent to grandstand, claiming victimhood, which eventually drew him into to working with outright opponents of terror surveillance programs - who are busily vilifying the FBI - all to further his claim. This started when he came to the conclusion that the agency was not giving adequate consideration to his legal claim, taking the unprecedented step of blindsiding FBI Director Mueller, alleging discrimination at a June 28, 2002 meeting which was arranged by Congressman, Frank Wolf of Virginia, whom Youssef had contacted regarding his job action.
It therefore stands to reason that the FBI might consider him not only ill-suited for promotion but ultimately disloyal to the agency.
Youssef's actions since that time only serve to ratify such a characterization.
Against a backdrop of almost unanimous media support of his claim, Youssef's case is fraught with inconsistencies.
Though Mr. Youssef and his attorney present him as a remarkably gifted expert in terrorism, the most recent court ruling on the matter [United States District Court for the District of Columbia, Civil Action No. 03-1551 (CKK), Memorandum Opinion Bassem Youssef, Plaintiff, v. Federal Bureau of Investigation, et al. Defendants] states that such claims are groundless:
Youssef's, "counterterrorism experience is very limited, and mostly involves performing as a translator." [source, ibid, pg. 6]
That same March 30, 2008 ruling found his claim of discrimination to be without merit.
"?Although Youssef is clearly disappointed that the FBI has not used his Arabic-speaking abilities and background differently in his assignments following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, the Court finds that Youssef has failed to demonstrate that a genuine issue of material fact exists concerning his claims of discrimination."[source, ibid]
The court's ruling exonerated the FBI, and led to the dismissal of Youssef's discrimination claim.
"?In sum, Youssef would have this Court conclude that his non-selection wasdiscriminatory based on his prima facie case, without a proffer of additional evidence supportingan inference that the FBI's reasons for his non-selection were false or pretextual. As a result, andbased on the totality of the admissible evidence before the Court, a jury could not reasonablyconclude that Youssef's non-selection constituted impermissible discrimination. Accordingly,the Court shall grant the FBI's Motion for Summary Judgment on this claim." [source, ibid]
The declaration that Youssef was really a novice in the field of terrorism and the rejection of his claim of discrimination impeaches the twin pillars of his claimed legitimacy - as an aggrieved party and as being uniquely suited for work as a counter-terror agent.
Moreover the legal finding that Youssef was not discriminated against and that his area of competency is solely as an Arabic language translator, not terror operative and/or expert, go to the heart of his credibility as leader of this dog and pony show, which commenced really in the above noted meeting between him, FBI Director Mueller and Congressman Wolf, and has progressed - downhill - since.
Justifiably, FBI professionals took Youssef's agendized blindsiding of the FBI Director as "outrageous."
Counterterrorism Division Deputy Assistant Director, John Lewis, in a May 17, 2005, deposition, stated that he was "...frankly being just amazed that [Youssef] would do something like that...." calling it, "...absolutely outrageous..." and an "ambush."
Lewis went on to indicate that he was, "still shocked," at the time of his deposition years later," and that he still harbored negative feelings about the incident, "Holy mackerel. I mean absolutely," as he, "couldn't imagine being more disloyal and discourteous putting the Director in that position."
Youssef's motivation aside, Lewis assailed his judgment, "On a scale of one to 100, the judgment factor there would be way down into the negatives..." [source, http://grassley.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=PressReleases.View&PressRelease_id=c4cc8a4a-f0ca-4dbe-abf7-e34fbb361a60]
With Youssef's disloyalty towards the FBI and his non-status as a terror expert on display, his administrative abilities come into focus.
Youssef's first brush with working in a high level counter-terror administrative atmosphere took place in the late 1990's, during the Clinton Administration.
In the days previous 2001, Youssef, acted as the Legal Attaché to Saudi Arabia, the "Riyadh Legat." He opened that office on Feb 28, 1997.
Despite a generally positive surface assessment by the Riyadh inspector, reading between the lines, Youssef's performance in running of the Riyadh Legat office was really problematic, resulting in him having created, "a disruptive and inadequate work environment..."
For example among the relevant findings in the review were:
1. "...File reviews, PSAs, and progress reviews were not conducted..."
2. "...liaison efforts within the American business community and foreign embassy personnel were deemed inadequate..."
3. "...Legat Riyadh, was not accredited in six countries within its territory..."
4. "...Legat Riyadh had inadequate office space with contributed to a disruptive and inadequate work environment..."
5. "...Deficiencies were noted in the operations of the Legat..."
6. "...It was noted that the Legat, Riyadh, had not conducted regular visits to the six countries which were included in the Legat territory. This resulted in the lack of coordination and liaison with embassy personnel as well as limited liaison contacts with law enforcement agencies in those countries. In particular, relations with embassy personnel in Yemen were found to be strained and ineffective as the result of lack of visits by Legat personnel..."
7. "...The inspection determined that Legat, Riyadh, had not established reasonable and measurable goals and objectives for the Legat..." [source, Riyadh Inspector's Report]
One of Youssef's key insinuations is that the FBI intentionally ran roughshod over civil liberties, via the National Security Letter process which was used to obtain transactional information pertaining to possible terrorist activity. Those on the receiving end of NSLs have the implicit right to challenge them in U.S. District Court.
NSL's are key weapons in the war on terror:
In the post 9/11 world, the National Security Letter is an indispensable tool and building block of an investigation that contributes significantly to the FBI's ability to carry out its national security responsibilities by directly supporting the furtherance of the counterterrorism, counterintelligence and intelligence missions. [source, FBI statement, http://www.fbi.gov/pressrel/pressrel07/nsl_faqs030907.htm]
More to the point, the Office of Inspector General [OIG], upon examination, made the finding that there had been no deliberate or intentional misuse of the NSL process. Similarly, no intentional misuse was found regarding the Attorney General's Guidelines or FBI policy in their administration.
Nevertheless, the OIG review did identify inadequate auditing and oversight as well as processes that were inappropriate.
Though it has been revealed that there were technical mistakes made in the administration of the NSL program, and that they have been admitted and many addressed, Youssef's stoking of sensation does nothing to re-establish his credibility.
This might lead a reasonable party to conclude that Youssef's public persona has been created out of whole cloth and that he has for political and personal reasons allied with people and institutions who wish to hamstring intelligence gathering in any way possible and who are unapologetically engaged in a vendetta against the FBI and other institutions which are responsible for the maintenance of national security.
Which is why, absent fact and despite a legal finding to the contrary, statements submitted on behalf of Youssef continue to assert that there exist, "deep seated discriminatory practices within the Bureau," rather than aid his case, further impugn his veracity.
To remedy the FBI's now proved non-discrimination, according to a CNN report, "Youssef wants the FBI to set affirmative action goals for the recruitment and promotion of people of Middle Eastern descent, and an annual report on how the bureau is meeting those goals." [source, http://www.cnn.com/2003/LAW/07/20/fbi.bias.suit/]
Then there is the question of Youssef's effectiveness at this point. His legal and political battles cannot but have negatively impacted his performance as an agent because it draws so heavily on his time and energies, as the DC Court filing states:
"The FBI also identifies evidence in the record suggesting that Youssef had been absentfrom work about two-thirds of the time during the first four months that he was assigned to a new unit...See Lewis Depo Tr. 65:9-13 (testifying that Youssef was absentabout two-thirds of the time between early November 2004 through February 2005). The FBIfurther identifies evidence suggesting that Lewis was concerned about Youssef's ability toperform his job responsibilities if he continued to be absent from the CAU..."[source, DC District Court Decision, pg. 57]
Critical to understanding this controversy and placing it in perspective is another case involving cross-cultural considerations hampering the FBI by Egyptian born agents. This one involved Gamal Abdel-Hafiz. Unlike Youssef, Abdel-Hafiz is a Muslim.
As Daniel Pipes observed:
But evidence from high-profile terrorism cases suggests that Abdel-Hafiz, an immigrant Muslim, twice refused on principle to tape-record his coreligionists, harming the investigations. The first case concerns a now-defunct Secaucus, N.J.-based Islamic investment bank called BMI Inc. Founded in 1985, it was financed by known terrorists and by members of the bin Laden family. The FBI got a break in 1999, when a BMI accountant contacted it and relayed his suspicions that $2.1 million in BMI funds "may have been used" to finance Al-Qaeda's twin bombings of U.S. embassies in East Africa in August 1998. When the president of BMI - a Muslim - learned of this communication, he contacted Abdel-Hafiz to ask for a meeting. On a conference call in April 1999, an assistant U.S. attorney dealing with the BMI case, Mark Flessner, encouraged Abdel-Hafiz to meet the BMI president and clandestinely record their discussion. Abdel-Hafiz refused. Why? "I fear for my life." But you have FBI protection, Flessner pointed out. No, Abdel-Hafiz scornfully replied: "The FBI can't protect me. The FBI, I don't trust them." Pressed further, Abdel-Hafiz blurted out another reason, one recalled by several participants on the call:
As an FBI agent, Gamal Abdel-Hafiz could have a key role helping America's premier anti-terrorist force protect the United States from harm."I do not record another Muslim. That is against my religion" (Flessner).
But evidence from high-profile terrorism cases suggests that Abdel-Hafiz, an immigrant Muslim, twice refused on principle to tape-record his coreligionists, harming the investigations.
The first case concerns a now-defunct Secaucus, N.J.-based Islamic investment bank called BMI Inc. Founded in 1985, it was financed by known terrorists and by members of the bin Laden family. The FBI got a break in 1999, when a BMI accountant contacted it and relayed his suspicions that $2.1 million in BMI funds "may have been used" to finance Al-Qaeda's twin bombings of U.S. embassies in East Africa in August 1998.
When the president of BMI - a Muslim - learned of this communication, he contacted Abdel-Hafiz to ask for a meeting. On a conference call in April 1999, an assistant U.S. attorney dealing with the BMI case, Mark Flessner, encouraged Abdel-Hafiz to meet the BMI president and clandestinely record their discussion.
Abdel-Hafiz refused. Why? "I fear for my life." But you have FBI protection, Flessner pointed out. No, Abdel-Hafiz scornfully replied: "The FBI can't protect me. The FBI, I don't trust them."
Pressed further, Abdel-Hafiz blurted out another reason, one recalled by several participants on the call:
* "A Muslim does not record another Muslim" (Robert Wright, FBI agent).
* He "wouldn't have any problems interviewing or recording somebody who wasn't a Muslim, but he could never record another Muslim" (John Vincent, FBI agent).[source, http://www.danielpipes.org/article/1038]
The above case demonstrates the inherent problems the FBI faces in recruiting native Arab speakers and points to the absurdity of attempting to force affirmative action requirements on the agency.
The effort, now being spearheaded by Youssef and his attorney of "whistleblowing" fame, is part of a larger effort that has tried to tie the hands of the United States as it seeks to turn back the murderous barbarism against the West which has originated in the Middle East.
On every front, elements of the war on terror are under vigorous and unfair assault. Critics of this war simply do not agree that radical Islam is the enemy. As a result of that a-priori determination, it follows from that point of view that isolating bin-Laden and al-Qaeda as the only legitimate targets, is the only defensible stance. The left firmly rejects a generalized armed resistance on our part, preferring in its place a more sanitary, surgically precise law enforcement model, one which was tried prior to 9/11, with horrific consequences.
This kind of thinking is what led Youssef's attorney Kohn, to posit in front of the Library Association meeting that regarding NSL's and "exigent contingencies"
"What we now know is that the definition provided by FBI office of general counsel to their unit responsible for national security letters was a false definition, it was not truthful.
Because exigent circumstances require life threatening, imminent terrorist activity and you can understand that if you're are a member of Congress or trying to be reasonable.
If the terrorists are boarding the plane you might have to do something very quickly, it's exigent..."
This short-sighted, unrealistic and now provably failed logic is what the left is trying to impose on counter-terror operations. If because of such twisted legal formalities we have to wait until the terrorists are boarding the airliner, or actually placing nuclear weapons in the sewers under the Capitol, there is no reasonable chance of victory in this confrontation with the Muslim jihad.
Accepting such a set of conditions is a suicide pact.
Which brings us back to Mr. Youssef's Quixote-like jousting. Regardless of whether he agrees completely with the motives of the leftist organizations which now draw inspiration, not to mention increased funding from his very public and nasty political battle, he can't be unaware of the repercussions brought about by his efforts.
Though he maintains that he still admires the FBI, everything about his actions and demeanor points in the opposite direction.
It remains to be seen if Youssef will ultimately triumph in his retaliation case, being cloaked in the protective bosom of the term "whistleblower," an MO being used to shield all manner of internal subversion in the agencies charged with national security, the army of leakers at the Department of State and the Central Intelligence Agency, being only the most obvious examples.
It is clear that outside of the protected confines of civil service employment, a malevolent troublemaker like Bassem Youssef would have been sacked years ago, claims of discrimination notwithstanding.
©1999-2008 PipeLineNews.org LLC, William Mayer, Beila Rabinowitz