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FBI Tries to Censure Agents, Fails


A few weeks ago, I told you that Judicial Watch is investigating a decision by the Obama Justice Department to shield from prosecution a radical terrorist who was involved in financing the terrorist group Hamas. His name is Omar Ahmad and he is one of the co-founders of the radical Council on American Islamic Relations (known as CAIR).

We think it’s important that the American people know why our federal government is protecting terrorists and terrorist-fronts (such as CAIR) here at home, while our men and women in uniform continue to spill their blood fighting terrorists abroad. It makes a mockery of the sacrifice of our military and military families, and represents a nonsensical approach to national security to say the least.

This is a battle we have been fighting for a very long time. Judicial Watch has been heavily involved in exposing the financial networks that make terrorism possible going back almost ten years now. In the days after 9/11, Judicial Watch called on the Bush administration to investigate and, if necessary, shut down terrorist front groups. (We listed them by name.) We also published a special report demonstrating how these terrorist financial networks operate and who operates them.

Perhaps most importantly, we took on the case of two FBI agents — Special Agent Robert Wright and retired Special Agent John Vincent — who were silenced by the FBI when they attempted to expose the government’s mishandling of terrorism investigations in the days before 9/11.

Both Wright and Vincent had worked on a critical investigation, known as Vulgar Betrayal, which uncovered a money laundering scheme in which United States-based members of the Hamas terrorist organization were using nonprofit organizations to recruit and train terrorists and fund terrorist activities. The Vulgar Betrayal investigation ultimately resulted in the FBI’s seizure of $1.4 million in funds which were targeted for terrorist activities — this was a first in U.S. history (and came before 9/11).

But when Wright attempted to publish a manuscript based on his experiences in Vulgar Betrayal, which included an account of the critical and dangerous failings of the FBI, he was censured. (Under an agreement they signed upon joining the FBI, Wright and Vincent were required to seek FBI approval prior to publishing material related to their work.) The FBI also prevented Wright and Vincent from speaking to a New York Times reporter investigating the matter.

At every turn, the FBI stonewalled their efforts, engaging in a series of inexplicable reversals and delays, ignoring its own regulations, and blatantly violating their First Amendment rights. Moreover, after Wright spoke out against the FBI’s behavior in a 2003 press conference, the FBI targeted him for dismissal.

Keep in mind, the FBI subjected these two agents to this type of attack for simply trying to provide a public service and prevent another 9/11!

Judicial Watch pursued justice in this case for nine long years, and in the end justice was served. First, Judicial Watch was successful in helping Special Agent Wright keep his job with the FBI. Then after a nine-year battle, in May 2009, Judicial Watch earned a court victory and ultimately a settlement on behalf of Wright and Vincent.

In her court ruling, U.S. District Court Judge Gladys Kessler excoriated the FBI’s censorship and emphasized the public importance of the lawsuit:

This is a sad and discouraging tale about the determined efforts of the FBI to censor various portions of a 500-page manuscript, written by a former long-time FBI agent, severely criticizing the FBI’s conduct of the investigation of a money laundering scheme in which United States-based members of the Hamas terrorist organization were using non-profit organizations in this country to recruit and train terrorists and fund terrorist activities both here and abroad.

The FBI also sought to censor answers given by both Plaintiffs to a series of written questions presented to them by a New York Times reporter concerning Wright’s allegations about the FBI’s alleged mishandling of the investigation. In its efforts to suppress this information, the FBI repeatedly changed its position, presented formalistic objections to release of various portions of the documents in question, admitted finally that much of the material it sought to suppress was in fact in the public domain and had been all along, and now concedes that several of the reasons it originally offered for censorship no longer have any validity.

Judicial Watch is proud to have played a role in helping to beat back the FBI’s illegal effort to censor criticism by its own agents. Wright and Vincent sought to blow the whistle in order to help prevent other terrorist attacks like 9/11. They should have been commended, not attacked.

By the way, I highly suggest you click over to Special Agent Wright’s new website and see for yourself the chronology of his effort to publish his manuscript. And why our continued efforts regarding the likes of Omar Ahmad and CAIR are so critical.


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