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Agent who filed suit speaks of FBI flaws

Associated Press
Published January 13, 2008


PHILADELPHIA - The FBI's counterterrorism agents lack language skills and cultural understanding needed to succeed, an agency whistle-blower charged Saturday.

Bassem Youssef, a decorated FBI supervisor who was born in Egypt and speaks fluent Arabic, also said jealousy, discrimination and flawed directives hinder the FBI's attempts to fight terrorism.

"The FBI has publicly stated that expertise in working counterterrorism matters, and cultural understanding of the Middle East and the radical Islamic groups, as well as the language, are not necessary to run the counterterrorism division," said Youssef, speaking Saturday at an American Library Association meeting.

Youssef, 49, the highest ranking Arab-American agent, has a discrimination lawsuit pending against the bureau. He has also raised concerns about the FBI's alleged misuse of warrantless searches.

Youssef canceled plans to deliver prepared remarks, after what his lawyer called FBI censorship and threats of disciplinary action, and instead answered questions from the audience.

Youssef's lawsuit, filed in 2004, alleges that he was passed over for several promotions after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks despite his relevant skills and experience.

The FBI denies discriminating against him and says it now has 46 agents and 285 language analysts who speak at least conversational Arabic.

[Last modified January 13, 2008, 01:15:58]

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