(Molly Bruns, Headline USA) A lawyer representing an FBI agent who was suspended after raising concerns about the treatment of the Jan. 6 suspects, contends the bureau is reportedly using its control of security clearances to silence and punish criticism.
Former Senate investigator and head of the Empower Oversight whistleblower group Jason Foster said his group will be representing Special Agent Stephen Friend, who made a complaint against the office of Special Counsel claiming he was suspended after raising concerns for the Jan. 6 suspects, Just the News reported.
Friend also included the concerning use of SWAT teams and alleged manipulation of crime statistics in his complaint.
Foster said the bureau suspended Friend by disabling his security clearance pending a review, which left the agent unable to do his job with his career in possible jeopardy.
Friend has gone on record saying he did not commit any wrongs worthy of suspending his security clearance.
“This is a common tactic that we have seen with the FBI,” Foster said. “They’re using it more and more, because they know that there’s less oversight and less scrutiny of a security clearance decision because of the nature of it. It’s harder to do oversight and have any kind of independent scrutiny.”
“So rather than just suspending the person on a claim that they didn’t do their job, or that they engaged in some misconduct, they’ll simply suspend their clearance, which means that they can’t do the work that they would normally do, then they can take them off the payroll, take their badge and gun, sideline them, and then hope that, you know, they can just sort of grind them into compliance or get them to quit rather than continue to fight because they don’t have any money,” he continued.
The FBI released a statement about the allegation Friend made in the complaint, saying that it could not discuss the specifics of the case but addressed the process for whistleblowing allegations.
“Employees who don’t carry out their responsibilities are held accountable through an objective administrative process,” it added. “FBI employees who report evidence of wrongdoing through a protected disclosure are protected from retaliation. Such reporting supports the FBI’s mission and is fully consistent with our core values.”
Foster worked to protect several whistleblowers when working in the Senate, and described how quickly Friend went from being an award-winning agent to an exile.
“He was an exemplary agent,” Foster said. “He had received awards. You know, he did his job. But the moment that he reported wrongdoing related to J6 cases, all of a sudden, now he is put on suspension. He’s walked out of the building, and they’re taking his paycheck away.”