Whistleblower Attorneys Who Won the Landmark Case Establishing FBI Whistleblowers Rights
No law firm has done more than Kohn, Kohn & Colapinto to establish rights for employees of the Federal Bureau of Investigation to report fraud or misconduct.
KKC successfully represented FBI whistleblowers that documented illegal searches under the Patriot Act’s “National Security Letter” program; documented deficiencies in the FBI’s counterterrorism program and misconduct in its investigations at the World Trade Center site after 9/11; forced the FBI to improve and accredit its crime lab; forced the Department of Justice to review thousands of criminal convictions based on documented forensic fraud at the crime lab; and won the first-ever retaliation lawsuit against the FBI.
In 1997, KKC won a landmark victory and was responsible for a historic presidential directive ordering the U.S. Attorney General to implement regulations protecting FBI whistleblowers. The representation of Dr. Frederic Whitehurst, the FBI scientist who blew the whistle on misconduct within the FBI crime lab, resulted in extensive reforms being made. See Whistleblower Protection for Federal Bureau of Investigation Employees – 28 CFR PART 27.
Furthermore, KKC represented former FBI Agent, Jane Turner, in her five-year legal battle against the FBI in which a jury awarded Turner the maximum compensatory damages permitted under Title VII. The total recovery, costs, fees and damages awarded exceeded $1.5 million. The firm also assisted Ms. Turner in raising allegations of theft at the World Trade Center Ground Zero by FBI agents. These allegations led to an investigation by the DOJ Inspector General. The IG Investigation Report found that there had been misconduct by FBI agents and led to new agency regulations preventing the taking of souvenirs from crime scenes.
Kohn, Kohn & Colapinto represented Bassem Youssef, a retired Unit Chief in the Federal Bureau of Investigation Counterterrorism Division, in discrimination and retaliation claims. He coordinated major investigations into Middle Eastern terrorist groups commencing in the late 1980s. He speaks fluent Arabic and is the highest ranking Arabic-American counterterrorism official with this skill.
Rather than utilizing his experience and expertise, he was sidelined in the FBI’s role in counterterrorism even as the FBI was publicly claiming a shortage of Arabic speaking agents. Mr. Youssef reported this and other deficiencies in the FBI’s counterterrorism division, and as a result, he experienced discriminatory retaliation.
In July 2006, the Department of Justice’s Office of Professional Responsibility concluded that the FBI illegally retaliated against Mr. Youssef because he had made whistleblower disclosures to the Director of the FBI and a Member of Congress.
Despite a warning from his superiors, FBI Special Agent Bassem Youssef answered questions at a January 12 session of the ALA Midwinter Meeting.
The Whistleblower’s Handbook: A Step-by-Step Guide to Doing What’s Right and Protecting Yourself offers more details of the Turner case in “Rule 30: Never Forget: Whistleblowing Works.”
If you are an FBI employee with knowledge of misconduct and would like to know how Kohn, Kohn & Colapinto can help you with your case, please complete our Contact Form.
For more information, see our resource page on Whistleblower Protections for members of the Intelligence Community.
Visit Frederic Whitehurst’s Forensic Justice Project, which reviews flawed forensic analyses for cases.