The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) seal is seen on the lectern following a press conference announcing the FBI’s 499th and 500th additions to the “Ten Most Wanted Fugitives” list on June 17, 2013 at the Newseum in Washington, DC. InternationalIndiaAfricaA former FBI agent has told Republican lawmakers that he was forced to sign a nondisclosure agreement that did not include the whistleblower exceptions allowing him to disclose government fraud, waste, and abuse to Congress and the Inspectors General.Republican Senators Chuck Grassley (Iowa) and Ron Johnson (Wisc.) have sent letters to US Attorney General Merrick Garland and FBI Director Christopher Wray requesting information concerning the bureau’s apparent attempts to strip FBI agents of whistleblower protections.The letters, obtained by Just the News, a US media outlet founded by American investigative journalist John Solomon, discussed the case of former Special Agent Stephen M. Friend, who filed a whistleblower complaint to the US Office of Special Counsel last year. Friend’s information concerned the apparent misuse of SWAT teams to arrest January Sixers, who were neither accused of any violent crimes nor had any criminal record. Friend was suspended from his duties by the agency after that.In January 2023, then-Special Agent Friend gave an interview to Sputnik sharing his concerns with regard to the weaponization of federal agencies by the Biden administration. After GOP lawmakers took the reins of the lower chamber of the US Congress, Friend provided the House GOP committee on weaponization with information about potential violations of US citizens’ rights and other apparent misconduct on the part of the bureau. After that, Friend was suspended by the FBI without pay.AmericasUnder Biden Federal Agencies Turned Into Instrument of Intimidation, FBI Whistleblower Says20 January, 13:00 GMTFriend was also smeared for his interview with Sputnik in a 316-page report compiled by House Judiciary Democrats. The report contained excerpts of his confidential witness depositions. The House GOP lawmakers lambasted their Democratic peers for illegally disclosing this information.Moreover, it turned out that the FBI reportedly denied former Special Agent Friend his requested firearms training records which he needed to submit as part of an application for new employment. The bureau’s decision to withhold those records prevented him from getting a new job and providing for his family.However, the story did not end here.
"Recently, our offices were provided the enclosed FBI Inspection Division Notification form which was provided to former Special Agent Friend," wrote Grassley and Johnson on April 19. "The notification form noted that he 'is not to discuss this matter with anyone other than the Inspection Division’s Internal Affairs Section (IAS), OPR [Office of Professional Responsibility], the Human Resources Division’s Office of Disciplinary Appeals, the FBI’s EAP [Employee Assistance Program], the FBI’s Ombudsman, or an attorney who has signed the appropriate Nondisclosure Agreement.' This advisement failed to include the 'anti-gag' provision language as required by the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2023."
AnalysisFBI Misused SWAT Team to Arrest Jan. 6 Protesters, Whistleblower Says28 September 2022, 15:55 GMTThe congressmen went on to say that the Consolidated Appropriations Act provides that “no appropriated funds may be used to enforce a nondisclosure agreement (…) that does not specifically allow for lawful, protected disclosures.” Furthermore, the prohibitions on disclosures mentioned in the form specifically “fail to recognize 5 USC § 7211 and the right of employees ‘to furnish information to either House of Congress, or to a committee or Member thereof, may not be interfered with or denied’.””The importance of whistleblowers knowing their rights under the law cannot be understated,” the GOP senators emphasized. “The anti-gag provision has been included in almost every appropriations law since 1988 and was permanently codified in federal law by the Whistleblower Protection and Enhancement Act of 2012. These accountability measures are critically important because they ensure whistleblowers know they have the right to disclose government fraud, waste, and abuse to Congress and Inspectors General.”Judging from the letter, GOP lawmakers suspect that the FBI may have urged other agents to sign non-disclosure agreements similar to that of Friend. If so, one cannot rule out that the bureau apparently tried to conceal its wrongdoing from US lawmakers and the American people.”Since 2012, how many times has the FBI issued a nondisclosure or similar agreement to FBI employees that did not contain the anti-gag provision as required by appropriations law?” the Republican lawmakers asked Garland and Wray. “Federal agencies cannot conceal their wrongdoing behind illegal nondisclosure agreements and related documents.””Accordingly, we request that you provide answers to the following questions and produce the documents requested below no later than May 3, 2023,” the lawmakers concluded.