Some question agent's loyalty

Associated Press

MINNEAPOLIS -- Former and current FBI agents are split on whether fellow agent Coleen Rowley did the right thing when she criticized the FBI's handling of the investigation of Zacarias Moussaoui.

Some have applauded her outspokenness.

Others, especially former FBI agents who served under J. Edgar Hoover, think her actions were inappropriate. One ex-agent, Charles George -- president of the Society of Former Special Agents of the FBI -- has blasted her in an editorial, comparing her to convicted spy Robert Hanssen and saying that her behavior was "unthinkable."

Hanssen is an FBI agent who pleaded guilty this year to spying for the Russians.


George's remarks appeared in the Grapevine, a monthly newsletter for the Society of Former Agents.

Rowley has not spoken publicly since she testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee. A fiercely private person, she has turned down hundreds of interview requests and nearly a dozen national awards. As Moussaoui's court proceedings and two inquiries into FBI activity move forward, Rowley has said it wouldn't be appropriate to comment publicly.

George's editorial annoyed a substantial list of other people: Agents, acquaintances, a U.S. senator and a former whistle-blower.

"I wouldn't want to belong to an outfit that didn't have people like Coleen Rowley," said Nick O'Hara, who led the Minneapolis FBI office from 1991 to 1994. "I'm not sure I'm as strong as she was to come forward and write the letter. It took a lot of soul-searching."

Rowley, 47, sent the 13-page letter to FBI Director Robert Mueller and several congressional Intelligence Committee members.

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