Oct. 1, 2007
(CBS/AP) More than six years after the most damaging FBI spy case in
U.S. history, the arrest of turncoat Robert Hanssen, and a more recent
case involving an FBI analyst in New Jersey, the FBI's internal security
system still has major "vulnerabilities," according to the latest report
from the Justice Department's inspector general.
CBS News reporter Stephanie Lambidakis says most of the report is
classified, but a 46-page summary concludes, "the FBI must recognize the
very real possibility that a spy could be working within the FBI's
After fighting with DOJ for several years, the FBI recently agreed to
fix two glaring weaknesses: the need for a new unit which focuses
exclusively on "detecting whether the FBI has been penetrated," and the
placement of an operational outsider - from the FBI or other
intelligence agency - given the FBI's refusal to consider that an FBI
agent could be compromising the country's most valuable intelligence and
military secrets over a 20-year period.
The report also found that the FBI's program to review suspicious
employees periodically over their years of service also remained spotty
because it hadn't created full case files on them. This was due at least
in part to faulty technology, it said.
"While the OIG found that some of the recommendations had not yet been
implemented, we continue to concur with all the recommendations made by
the original report," replied the FBI in a statement.
The investigation by IG's office sought to examine the extent of
internal security at the nation's lead law enforcement and domestic spy
agency following the 2001 capture of Hanssen, who admitted spying for
Moscow for cash and diamonds over two decades.
The most interesting part of the report, says Lambidakis, is the section
on Philippine native Leandro Aragoncillo, an analyst at the FBI's Fort
Monmouth Information Technology Center in New Jersey, who pled guilty in
May 2006 to four charges, including transmitting national defense
information to try to destabilize the Philippine government. A tick-tock
on pages 30-38 details repeated instances of suspicious behavior by
Aragoncillo which didn't trigger alarm bells - including an FBI employee
who saw files about "Philippines" and "corruption" on Aragoncillo's
computer screen, subjects far outside his duties.
In addition, Aragoncillo had debt, he used his private cell phone at the
same time each morning and never used it in the office, and he lied
about having family members who still lived in the Philippines.
For eight months, there was no follow-up until another agency's
investigation led to Aragoncillo's discovery.
ICE, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, "contacted the
FBI's New York office to inquire about Arancillo's involvement in an
immigration matter involving Michael Ray Aquino, a former high-ranking
Philippine police official who was later prosecuted with Aragoncillo as
a co-conspirator of FBI information," said the report.
As an FBI security officer remarked, "It seems like we dropped the ball
in a big way."
"We do not know whether Aragoncillo would still have been hired or his
espionage prevented if the personnel security specialists had performed
their jobs competently," states the report by Inspector General Glenn A.
Fine. "However, the failures in the personnel security process should
not have occurred."
"We believe the FBI must be vigilant in attempting to deter and detect
the internal penetrations that have occurred in the past and that may
occur in the future," the report said.
The Office of the Inspector General does praise the FBI for widespread
security improvements, especially in areas such as polygraphs and
re-investigations. The number of FBI employees and contractors subject
to random polygraphs has mushroomed from 550 to 18,384.
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