Whistleblower effectively gagged by FBI
In what his attorney is calling censorship, an FBI whistleblower is being severely limited on what he is allowed to share with an audience at an upcoming trade meeting.
Bassem Youssef, the highest ranking Arab-American FBI agent, is scheduled to speak to the ALA on January 12. After receiving a warning on January 3, Youssef decided, on the advice of his attorney, to no longer give the originally planned presentation on what he calls "critical failures within the FBI's counterterrorism program," said to undermine not only Americans' basic constitutional rights, but counterterrorism efforts as well. Instead, he will answer prepared questions from audience members.
The FBI, between its original clearance in October of 2007 and its recent warning, had become displeased with the contents of an ALA press release dated December 20, 2007, which detailed the planned speech.
Says attorney Stephen M. Kohn, "The FBI does not want the general public to know the contents of the censorship provisions it unconstitutionally demands that its agents follow."
As the Wall Street Journal reports, Youssef sued the FBI in 2003 alleging discrimination, career sabotage and retaliation, which internal investigations have at least partially substantiated. In the case of Youssef's speech to the American Library Assocation, the FBI stated that it sought to "balance the speech rights of employees with the need to protect classified and sensitive information."
The FBI, according to Youssef and Kohn, provided Youssef with a list of requirements, not previously published, by which he would be bound. "Although I understand the document contains no confidential information," says Kohn in a letter to the ALA, "the FBI does not want the general public to know the contents of the censorship provisions it unconstitutionally demands that its agents follow."