FBI losing senior agents to private sector
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Sunday July 2, 2006
Years of pummeling by the press and Congress, plus wrenching changes produced by the FBI's shift in focus to antiterrorism, have depressed morale at the bureau and are causing senior agents to mull job offers worth as much as $600,000 a year in the private sector, TIME's Brian Bennett and Adam Zagorin will report in Monday editions, RAW STORY has learned. More from a release:
On July 15, just weeks after his 50th birthday, acting executive assistant director for law-enforcement services Chris Swecker is to leave for a new job as head of global security for Bank of America, where he will earn a reported $600,000, more than triple what he makes as the FBI's No. 3. Better pay isn't the only motivation-one former senior FBI manager said he quit after tiring of the “constant berating” he got from lawmakers when briefing Congress. “All these factors play into a decision to leave: family, finances, burnout, pressure, criticism,” he says. “You've worked your a__ off. Eventually you say, Hey, the heck with this.”
The story will be on TIME.com Sunday afternoon.
The turnover has hit some of the most vital positions in the bureau hierarchy. In five years, six different people have moved through the post of counterterrorism chief, overseeing what has been the FBI's core mission since 9/11. And June 2 was the last day for 29-year veteran Gary Bald, 52, who retired just 10 months after being tapped to start up the FBI's new National Security Branch. He's taking a security job with Royal Caribbean Cruises, TIME reports.
Members of the Senate Judiciary Committee have been debating whether the brain drain at the FBI poses a threat to national security. “The FBI cannot be a revolving door for senior managers,” says Senator Chuck Grassley. “It needs stability in these important positions to fight in the war on terror.”
FBI Director Robert Mueller seems to agree. When promoting agents to senior-executive levels, he “is trying to extract some promise as to how long they are willing to stay,” says Michael Mason, who runs the administrative side of the FBI. Grassley suggested to TIME that “the FBI needs to appeal to the patriotic spirit of its senior managers.” But beyond that, the bureau is offering few tangible perks to make working there more attractive. Nor will the jobs be getting easier-Mason says new recruits should expect to be rotated around the country and the world, even if it means uprooting their families, a practice that, for budgetary reasons, had waned in recent years, TIME reports.
Mason, however, is optimistic that the new generation of agents will make the sacrifices necessary for the job. At the Washington field office, he notes, 65% of the new recruits last year took a pay cut from previous jobs to work at the FBI, TIME reports.