Exclusive: FBI Agents Accuse CIA of 9/11 Coverup
Previously unreported interviews filed in court claim CIA is hiding information relating to a failed 'recruitment' effort
LIKE MANY GREAT SPY STORIES, this one begins with a brief, mundane scene whose significance only becomes apparent later on. Around lunchtime on February 1, 2000, a man dropped a piece of paper near a table in a Middle Eastern restaurant outside Los Angeles and paused long enough to strike up a conversation with two Arabic-speaking men dining nearby. It would take FBI agents nearly 20 years to understand the full meaning of that small event.
The man who dropped the piece of paper was Omar al-Bayoumi, a Saudi intelligence asset, recently declassified FBI documents show. And the two Arabic-speaking men with whom he struck up a conversation with were Nawaf al-Hazmi and Khalid al-Mihdhar, the first two future 9/11 hijackers to arrive in the United States. Was this meeting, as the alleged agent later claimed to investigators, mere happenstance? Or was it an intelligence operation being conducted on U.S. soil? It was an intelligence operation, according to a previously-unreported court filing SpyTalk has obtained that corroborates and expands our understanding of this extraordinary meeting, which took place just as the 9/11 plot was taking shape.
The court filing details a five-year inquiry by an investigator for the Guantanamo Military Commission into whether the meeting at the Mediterranean Gourmet restaurant was an operation that involved not only Saudi agents but CIA officers as well.
The theory that the CIA had launched a failed effort to recruit the hijackers through the Saudis has been around for years, and was always circumstantial at best, but the document obtained by SpyTalk reveals there is more evidence to support it. One former FBI agent claimed to the investigator that the CIA possesses top secret “operational” files and a “paper trail” about the Saudi spy who met the hijackers that are still being suppressed.
A CIA spokesperson denied that the agency was hiding information. The FBI declined to comment.
The revelations were found in a 21-page court document filed in 2021 at the Guantanamo Bay naval base in Cuba where the cases of the 9/11 defendants are being heard. The document was on the public docket, but went unreported because it was completely redacted except for an unclassified marking. Spytalk obtained an unredacted copy.
The legal filing consists of summaries of interviews with anonymous FBI agents, 9/11 Commission staff and others who investigated the attacks on New York and Washington. It was compiled by Don Canestraro, an investigator for the Office of Military Commissions, as the court hearing the cases of the 9/11 defendants is formally known. Canestraro previously served for more than two decades as an agent with the Drug Enforcement Administration.
Canestraro’s filing is chock-full of new details about the multiple investigations into 9/11. And it follows the release last year of declassified FBI documents that offered an unprecedented portrait of Saudi intelligence operations inside America. Read together, this new information raises issues that go to the heart of America’s fraught relationship with the oil-rich Kingdom—and the 9/11 attacks.
Four unnamed former FBI agents involved in the 9/11 investigation told Canestraro they believed the CIA was covering up an operation on U.S. soil to penetrate Al Qaeda. The most explosive allegations come from a former FBI agent who spoke to Canestraro in June 2021. The former agent, identified only as CS-23, was described as having “extensive knowledge of counterterrorism and counterintelligence matters.”
CS-23 pointedly described the meeting between the Saudi agent and the hijackers at the Middle Eastern Gourmet restaurant as part of “an operation directed by the Central Intelligence Agency,” and indicated that the CIA has “operational” files on Bayoumi that predated 9/11.
Before 9/11, according to CS-23, the CIA was determined to get a human source inside Osama bin Laden’s terror network, and the arrival of two members of Al Qaeda in Southern California in January 2000 offered an unprecedented opportunity. The CIA is legally barred from collecting information on U.S. citizens “but its foreign intelligence collection mission can be conducted anywhere," according to the agency website.
After 9/11, CS-23 told Canestraro, “FBI officials in San Diego and at FBI headquarters became aware of both Bayoumi’s affiliation with Saudi intelligence and subsequently the existence of the CIA’s operation to recruit Hazmi and Mihdhar through Bayoumi.” Senior FBI officials “suppressed investigations” into the matter, C-23 said.
CS-23’s account could not be independently verified. Canestraro said all the former CIA officers and FBI agents he spoke with were granted anonymity and Canestraro said he could not put SpyTalk in touch with CS-23 without violating attorney-client privilege.
Canestraro said his investigation would not have been possible without initial assurances of confidentiality. The FBI has tried to silence at least one former agent who spoke publicly about Saudi Arabia and the 9/11 investigation. In a 2019 letter, a copy of which was obtained by SpyTalk, the bureau reminded the agent of the duty of confidentiality that he agreed to when he joined the bureau and instructed him to clear all future disclosures with headquarters.
The starting point for this investigation, Canestraro wrote, was Omar al-Bayoumi, the Saudi man who met the two hijackers in the Middle Eastern Gourmet restaurant on Venice Boulevard in Culver City. Bayoumi played a critical role in helping the two newly-arrived hijackers settle in the United States. He encouraged the two men to come to San Diego and once there, he helped them open bank accounts, found them an apartment, paid their security deposit, co-signed their lease, and threw a welcoming party for them. He also introduced the hijackers to Anwar al-Aulaqi, then an imam at a mosque in San Diego, California who “reportedly served as their spiritual advisor during their time in San Diego,” according to the joint congressional committee’s report on 9/11. Aulaqi was killed in a drone strike in Yemen in 2011.
Lawyers for the 9/11 defendants in Guantanamo have asked a judge to order the CIA, the FBI, Congress, and the 9/11 Commission to turn over all documents relating to Bayoumi. “People in a position to know have suggested that the CIA concealed information about Hazmi and Mihdhar’s travel because the CIA wanted to recruit them through Saudi intelligence, which would go a long way to support the defense theory that the United States and Al Qaeda are not at war,” defense lawyers wrote in a motion to compel discovery. Canestraro’s affidavit was attached to the motion. A judge in the slow-moving military commissions has still not yet ruled on the motion.
Bayoumi was a subject of FBI investigations that stretched over more than 20 years, and he was long suspected to have been a Saudi intelligence agent. But he was certainly no James Bond. He was frequently spotted videotaping events at the local mosque. Even one of the hijackers thought Bayoumi was a spy, according to the 9/11 Commission. He lived with his family in San Diego on a student visa, despite not attending classes, and he received a salary from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for a job he never performed. But Bayoumi told FBI agents in Riyadh in 2003 that the claim that he was a spy was “absolutely not true.” Bayoumi told the 9/11 Commission that Hazmi’s description of him as a spy “hurt him very much.”
Robert McFadden, a former senior counterterrorism agent with the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, tells SpyTalk he understood Bayoumi’s complaint. Bayoumi “was likely a useful, marginally employed, Saudi government fixer and facilitator for Riyadh, who 'took care' of idiot expats like the Hazmi brothers and Khalid al-Mihdhar, who had never traveled to the U.S. before or had much English,” McFadden said. “Most importantly, a Bayoumi would keep an eye on any known or suspected Saudi opposition activity.”
Bayoumi appeared on the FBI’s radar before 9/11, when he attracted suspicion from his San Diego apartment manager. According to CS-23, FBI special agents in San Diego queried the CIA as part of that inquiry. The agency reported that it had no information on Bayoumi. That was a “falsehood,” C-23 told Canestraro in June 2001.
“C-23 stated the CIA maintained ‘operational’ files on Omar al-Bayoumi,” Canestraro wrote. “CS-23 explained to me that ‘operational’ files are those files related to an intelligence operation conducted by a given agency. CS-23 further explained that he/she was aware of a ‘paper trail’ concerning al-Bayoumi.”
Canestraro says CS-23’s account suggests the CIA hid critical evidence from the FBI about an agent of Saudi intelligence. “The CIA did not share all it knew about Bayoumi with the FBI both prior to and after the 9/11 attacks,” he told SpyTalk. “Certainly, this impacted the FBI's investigations into Bayoumi.”
A CIA spokesperson strongly disputed that claim, but stopped short of claiming that such files do not exist.
“The allegation that CIA is ‘hiding’ information related to the attacks of September11th, 2001, is false,” the CIA spokesperson tells SpyTalk. “CIA has fully complied with Executive Order 14040 of September 2021, which mandated the review and, wherever possible, public release of government information ‘collected and generated in the United States Government’s investigation’ of the attacks. In keeping with the executive order, CIA declassified the maximum amount of information possible in hundreds of documents, which are now publicly available online.”
A veteran CIA case officer involved in the 9/11 investigation tells SpyTalk that there may very well be some information on Bayoumi in a file somewhere in the agency. The CIA has contacts with many people, all over the world, and case officers are required to document them, this person said. But the possibility that a CIA officer met Bayoumi once years ago doesn’t mean anything on its own, he said, and FBI agents making a big deal out of that are just trying to shift blame away from the bureau’s failure to heed the pre-9/11 warnings of its own agents. An FBI agent in Phoenix, for example, requested an investigation of terrorists training at U.S. flight schools. Another agent in Minnesota wrote a memo theorizing that Zacarias Moussaoui, now serving life in prison for his role in the attacks, seemed like a terrorist planning to “fly a plane into the World Trade Center.” Both were ignored.
“For them to say we’re holding out on them now—fuck you,” the CIA veteran says. “That’s what I want to say to all of you: Fuck you, assholes. Three thousand people dead and 22 years later, and you’re still trying to wash the stain off the FBI.”
Another CIA veteran told SpyTalk he found the recruiting theory laughable: The Saudis would never allow the CIA to recruit one of their own citizens. But he said he wouldn’t put anything past the personnel in Alec Station, as the CIA’s bin Laden station was known— including going out of channels to try to recruit Hazmi and Mihdhar.
(It wouldn’t be the first or last time: Years after former FBI special agent and private investigator Robert Levinson went missing in Kish Island, Iran, in 2007 for example, his family learned that he had gone “at the direction of certain CIA analysts who had no authority to run operations overseas,” according to a Washington Post investigation. The CIA had told the Senate Intelligence Committee and FBI that the spy agency “had nothing to do with him going to Iran.”
Two former CIA case officers who spoke to Canestraro saw Alec Station as a place where the normal rules didn’t apply. Located in a northern Virginia office outside CIA headquarters, Alec Station was stuffed with analysts who saw themselves as operatives. Even though they were not undercover, the analysts would refer to each other by their code names around the office. Despite their limited operational training, the analysts at Alec Station would also direct operations in the field and even went so far as to block one operation targeting Al Qaeda, according to Canestraro’s interviews.
“CS-10,” a 25-year CIA veteran, “told me that the analysts at UBL station felt that they could undertake operations as easily as the case officers even though they had not been trained in covert intelligence-gathering techniques,” Canestraro wrote.
The other former CIA case officer, CS-11, told Canestraro that “it would have been difficult” for any of the analysts “to run an operation out of UBL Station without approval from other CIA officers.”
The theory about a failed CIA recruitment effort surfaced in Lawrence Wright’s Pulitzer Prize-winning 2007 book, The Looming Tower: Al Qaeda and the Road to 9/11. Mark Rossini, a former FBI agent detailed to the CIA, was the first former insider to go public with his belief that the spy agency sought to use Bayoumi to recruit the hijackers. Richard Clarke, the National Security Council counterterrorism coordinator in the Clinton and Bush White Houses, followed with a 2016 article claiming that a major element of the 9/11 tragedy remained unrevealed. Clarke wrote that he too believed that the CIA had used Bayoumi to approach the hijackers in what he called a “false flag” operation.
Clarke tells SpyTalk that he began to suspect something was amiss when CIA Director George Tenet paid a personal visit to his office in the White House after 9/11. The CIA’s inspector general was examining whether the agency had done enough to stop the attacks. Tenet, accompanied by two of his lieutenants, Cofer Black and Richard Blee, asked Clarke to write a letter to the inspector general, John Helgerson, praising the agency’s performance. Clarke was a little hesitant to write a letter on Tenet’s behalf but he eventually did say something along the lines of what they asked, he told SpyTalk.
What struck Clarke as odd was how nervous the CIA director seemed. “What was shocking to me was here’s the CIA director really worried about a CIA inspector general investigation into him and his relationship to 9/11,” Clarke says. “That’s one of the reasons I’ve often thought that my recruitment theory was probably right.”
Philip Zelikow, former executive director of the 9/11 Commission, has said there was no evidence to support such a theory. “If the ‘recruitment theory’ posited by Clarke and Rossini were true, there would be evidence of a recruitment effort—some CIA attempt to locate and contact al-Mihdhar and al-Hazmi. There is no such evidence. Nor was there any evidence of a recruitment plan or even the consideration of one,” Zelikow wrote in a 2017 article. (Zelikow did not return emails from SpyTalk.)
Several former FBI agents told Canestraro that the alleged recruitment effort explained one of the most glaring intelligence-sharing failures in the runup to 9/11: The CIA’s failure to notify the FBI upon learning that the hijackers were headed to the United States. Not only did the CIA fail to take the simple step of putting the hijackers’ names on a watchlist, it also blocked FBI agents detailed to the CIA from sending a memo informing FBI headquarters. Nineteen months later Mihdhar and Hazmi were part of a team that hijacked American Airlines Flight 77 and crashed it into the Pentagon.
Rossini was an eyewitness to the CIA’s efforts to prevent his headquarters from learning that Mihdhar had a multiple-entry U.S. visa. (Rossini declined to comment for the record for this story.) But in interviews in 2015 and a brief memoir that was published online, Rossini revealed that a CIA officer in the agency’s bin Laden station ordered him in early 2000 to keep silent. It was “not a matter for the FBI,” Rossini says he was told. “The next Al Qaeda attack is going to be in Southeast Asia, and if and when we want to let the FBI know we will and you are not to say anything.” Rossini did not name the CIA officer, but she has previously been identified as Michael Anne Casey.
The CIA’s Inspector General concluded that the agency’s failure to pass the information on Hazmi and Midhar’s arrival to the FBI until August 2001 was not a mistake borne out of a reluctance to share it but rather one of poor implementation, guidance, and oversight of processes designed to foster exchanges. An anonymous CIA officer—subsequently identified as Tom Wilshire, a former deputy chief of the bin Laden station—told the joint congressional committee investigating 9/11, “Something apparently was dropped somewhere and we don't know where that was.”
SpyTalk was able to identify some of Canestraro’s sources. Rossini’s previous statements fit those of the former FBI agent identified in Canestraro’s filing as “CS-3.”The statement of “CS-4” matches the account in Newsweek of James Bernazzani, who oversaw the FBI contingent in the CIA’s Counterterrorist Center and described how he rushed word on Hazmi and Midhar down to headquarters as soon as he learned of it. (Bernazzani did not return messages left seeking comment.)
Rossini’s statement to Canestraro adds a new wrinkle to his version of events. A few years after 9/11, Rossini says he was at CIA headquarters, when he heard James Pavitt, the CIA deputy director for operations, and Director George Tenet discuss the 9/11 Commission’s request to speak with Michael Anne Casey, the CIA officer who instructed him that Mihdhar’s visa was “not a matter for the FBI.” Pavitt told Tenet that he was “glad” the CIA had kept Casey away from the 9/11 Commission, Rossini said, and Tenet agreed that it was a good idea. “CS-3 stated that the conversation indicated two CIA officials had conspired to obstruct the 9/11 Commission,” Canestraro wrote. (The CIA did not respond to questions about the purported conversation. Tenet did not return a message left seeking comment. Pavitt died last December.)
Rossini left the FBI 2008 after pleading guilty to criminally accessing an FBI database for information that was later used by Hollywood private eye Anthony Pellicano. He pleaded not guilty last year in a federal corruption case involving a former governor of Puerto Rico.
Canestraro’s court filing in Guantanamo also raises long-simmering questions about the Saudi government and 9/11. Fifteen of the 19 hijackers were from Saudi Arabia. Was the Saudi government connected in any way to the terrorist plot? Did any Saudi government officials have prior knowledge of the plan to attack New York and Washington?
The U.S. intelligence community has been grappling with those questions for years. The CIA Inspector General’s 9/11 Review Team reported in 2005 that it found no evidence that the Saudi government knowingly and willingly supported Al Qaeda. But newly declassified documents reveal that, at a minimum, the Saudi government knew far more about Hazmi and Mihdhar’s arrival in America than it was letting on to the FBI.
Another one of Canestraro’s interviewees, identified as CS-8, told him that "diplomatic pressure" was exerted on the FBI not to investigate the Saudi government’s connections to the 9/11 attacks. The person did not elaborate.
A recently declassified FBI memo from 2017 revealed the bureau’s belated discovery that Bayoumi was paid a monthly stipend as a “cooptee” of the Saudi General Intelligence Presidency. (A cooptee is a citizen of a country, but not an officer or employee of that country’s intelligence service, who assists that service on a temporary or opportunity basis.) The memo notes that the allegations of Bayoumi’s involvement with Saudi intelligence were not confirmed at the time of the 9/11 Commission’s report, which had concluded that Bayoumi was “an unlikely candidate for clandestine involvement with Islamic extremists.
Bayoumi was part of a Saudi intelligence network that defied conventions. The head of the Saudi General Intelligence Presidency before 9/11 was the veteran spymaster Prince Turki al Faisal. Bayoumi, however, was paid out of channels by, and reported to, Prince Bandar bin Sultan Al Saud, the longtime Saudi ambassador to the United States and close friend of the Bush family, according to a declassified FBI memo. Information that Bayoumi collected on persons of interest in the Saudi community in San Diego and Los Angeles was forwarded to Prince Bandar, not Prince Turki. Prince Bandar and his wife, Princess Haifa al Faisal, also sent money to a close associate of Bayoumi in San Diego and the associate’s wife, according to FBI reporting.
The CIA, which had a close relationship with Prince Bandar, saw the Saudi embassy intelligence network as business as usual. “This is normal intelligence collection from [any] embassy in the West,” the CIA veteran who worked on the 9/11 investigation says. The United States and Saudi Arabia had reached an understanding through a covert alliance that went back decades. In the 1970s, Saudi Arabia joined forces with the United States and other countries to fight Communism, especially in Africa, where the Soviet Union was backing an array of rebel groups and organizations. The alliance came to be known as the “Safari Club.” Saudi Arabia bankrolled U.S. intelligence operations and set up covert banking services for the agency. Later on the Saudis funded the anti-communist Nicaraguan Contra rebels at the request of the Reagan White House and the CIA. The Saudis also showered money on the Afghan mujahideen as they battled the occupying Soviet Red Army in the 1980s. Thousands of Saudis traveled to Afghanistan to fight alongside the mujahideen, including Osama bin Laden, who went on to found Al Qaeda with money from his wealthy family.
The CIA veteran involved in the 9/11 investigation detailed another little-known example of Saudi cooperation after the attacks. Shortly after the September 11 calamity, the Saudis loaded a plane with reams of information on Al Qaeda and delivered it to the CIA.
“It was the most impressive data dump I’ve ever seen in my life,” the former CIA case officer says. “It was every piece of information they might have had about anybody who might have been an Al Qaeda guy.” That information would prove critical years later in identifying a courier and adding to the puzzle that led the agency to Osama bin Laden’s hideout in Pakistan.
The Saudi-CIA cooperation was not always smooth. After 9/11, there was a curious dispute that involved Saudi princes Turki and Bandar, the CIA, and the first two hijackers to arrive in the United States. The usually-secretive Saudis officials publicly revealed several intelligence tips they provided to the United States. Prince Turki told The Associated Press that his agency had passed word to the CIA in late 1999 and early 2000 that Hazmi and Mihdhar were members of Al Qaeda.
“What we told them was these people were on our watch list from previous activities of Al Qaeda, in both the embassy bombings and attempts to smuggle arms into the Kingdom,” Turki said. In addition, Nawaf Obaid, a security consultant to the Saudi government, told author Lawrence Wright that the names of the future hijackers were given to the then-station chief in Riyadh. That wasn’t the only tip the U.S. intelligence community had on the hijackers. In late 1999, the U.S. intelligence community intercepted communications revealing that “Khalid” (Mihdhar) and “Nawaf” (Hazmi) had been summoned to an Al Qaeda meeting in Malaysia. A CIA desk officer noted that “something more nefarious [was] afoot.”
A heads-up from Saudi intelligence would go a long way to help explain why the CIA was so closely tracking Hazmi and Mihdhar as they made their way to the United States in 2000. The CIA, however, furiously denied Prince Turki’s account, saying it did not receive any information from Saudi Arabia about the two future hijackers’ connections to Al Qaeda until after 9/11. Prince Bandar then issued a “clarification” to Prince Turki’s account: There were “no documents sent by Saudi Arabia regarding Mihdhar and Hamzi prior to September 11.” In other words, there was no paper trail for Congress, the FBI, or the 9/11 Commission to find. Prince Turki later retracted his statement in an interview with author Lawrence Wright.
Perhaps Prince Turki got it wrong (or lied for his own reasons). Or perhaps his comments had touched on secrets that the Saudis were just as desperate to conceal as the CIA. In 2007, the FBI opened Operation Encore to examine the network that supported Hazmi and Mihdhar when they arrived in the United States barely able to speak English. The FBI closed Operation Encore in 2021 after finding insufficient evidence to charge any Saudi government official with conspiring to help the hijackers carry out the 9/11 attack.
One of Encore’s more stunning findings, however, was that the first two hijackers to arrive in the United States were aided by a militant Islamic network created and funded by officials in the Saudi embassy under the leadership of Bush family friend Prince Bandar.
The Saudi government and its embassy in Washington played a key role in “the funding and creation of a multitude of Islamic organizations, offices, imams, and other religious figures with in the US—many of which were involved with militant ideology,” according to an FBI memo from 2021 highlighting Saudi government connections to 9/11. “Several of these were known to be tied directly to Prince Bandar and/or were involved with the collection of information on US-based Islamic entities.”
According to the FBI, the Saudi militant network in the U.S. served a dual function. It promoted Wahhabism, an ultraconservative branch of Islam based on a literal reading of the Koran. It also collected intelligence on the dissidents that the royal family viewed as a threat. It was this network that assisted the hijackers when they landed at Los Angeles International Airport on January 15, 2000. And if Mark Rossini, Richard Clarke, and CS-23 are correct, it was this network that was involved in the effort to recruit at least one of the hijackers at the behest of the CIA’s Alec Station operatives.
The Saudi Embassy did not respond to a request seeking comment. A 2021 statement from the Embassy said that any allegation of Saudi complicity with the 9/11 plot was categorically false.
The militant network in Southern California was run by a close associate of Prince Bandar’s whose name was kept secret until recently. A man named Musaed al-Jarrah ran the Islamic Affairs office within the Saudi Embassy in Washington. Jarrah was a “known” Saudi intelligence officer, according to the 2021 FBI memo. He was also a key figure in the investigation of Saudi government ties to the 9/11 plot. “Jarrah was a controlling, guiding, and directing influence on all aspects of Sunni extremist activity in Southern California,” the 2021 memo states. “Jarrah had numerous contacts with terrorism suspects throughout the U.S.” Jarrah left the United States in 2006 after coming under suspicion for his links to terrorism. He continued working for Prince Bandar in the Saudi National Security Ministry in Riyadh, according to the 2021 FBI memo.
From Jarrah, the FBI found a trail leading to the hijackers. Agents uncovered evidence that Jarrah had directed Bayoumi and an employee of the Saudi consulate in Los Angeles to help the hijackers, according to FBI documents. Bayoumi was in direct contact with Jarrah around the time of the hijackers’ arrival in the United States.
The 9/11 Commission steered clear of these issues when it interviewed Prince Bandar in October 2003 at his home in McLean, Virginia. Bandar did not volunteer information about Bayoumi or the militant network in the U.S. that his staff had fostered—and it appears he was not asked about either issue, according to notes of the conversation that were declassified in 2019.
But Bandar took a conciliatory approach. He explained that his government “chose not to see” the radical fundamentalists in its midst. The government “treated them much like Americans treat the Amish,” Bandar told the 9/11 Commission. “We allow them to flourish and have no reason to believe that their way of life would do anyone harm.” The Saudi prince quoted from Invisible Man, Ralph Ellison’s classic novel on the Black experience: “I am invisible because you choose not to see me.” Left unexplored was the role that Wahhabism, the austere state religion that the Saudi government had spread around the globe, may have played in radicalizing Osama bin Laden and other militant fundamentalists.
Now, 20 years later, an anonymous FBI agent has come forward to say that there’s evidence about 9/11 implicating Saudi Arabia and the CIA that remains invisible to the public. Former FBI agents say the CIA may still be hiding what it knows about the first two 9/11 hijackers to arrive in the United States, as well as the real reasons why nobody told the FBI they were coming to America. Canestraro tells SpyTalk that his filing shows the CIA is hiding information. “There are files in the government's possession that neither the military commissions nor the general public have seen regarding Saudi Arabia's potential role in 9/11,” he said. “These files should be at a minimum released to the military commissions.”
Until then, answers to the remaining 9/11 riddles will remain out of sight.###
Note: This story has been updated to add that Mark Rossini was forced to resign from the FBI in 2008 after pleading guilty to five felony counts for criminally accessing records in an FBI database. In 2022 he pleaded not guilty in an ongoing federal corruption case involving a former governor of Puerto Rico.
Seth Hettena is a contributing editor at Rolling Stone and writes about national security and politics from San Diego.
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