Whistleblowers accuse senior FBI officials of retaliating against agents for their political beliefs
At least three FBI whistleblowers told lawmakers on the House Judiciary Committee Tuesday that high-level senior officials at the bureau are revoking security clearances of personnel based on whether they have religious or politically conservative beliefs.
According to the disclosure received by lawmakers and shared with The Washington Times, one of the whistleblowers reported that FBI executives targeted current employees associated with former FBI employees who were interviewed for the movie “Police State,” which includes former FBI agents Kyle Seraphin and Steven Friend.
The movie, a documentary co-created by conservative author and filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza and produced by talk radio host Dan Bongino, alleges that Democratic Party leaders, working with top officials in the FBI, CIA and Department of Justice, have censored and, in some cases, imprisoned their political opponents.
The executives in the FBI’s Security Division, which agents refer to as SecD, assigned agents from field offices to conduct security clearance investigations for employees suspected of communicating with or providing information to people involved with the movie, according to the whistleblowers.
The movie had its red-carpet premiere late last month at Mar-a-Lago, the Florida residence of former President Donald Trump. The audience consisted of about 500 conservative influencers, media personalities and politicians. Mr. Trump did not attend the event but voiced his support, saying the film exposes “the witch hunt that the deep state has against me.”
The disclosure said an FBI employee revealed that SecD sought to recruit between 100 and 300 temporary employees to conduct security clearance investigations “against whistleblowers, conservatives, and employees with an unacceptable political affiliation or belief.”
The FBI disputed the whistleblowers’ allegations.
“The FBI does not target or take adverse action against employees for exercising their First Amendment rights or for their political views; to allege otherwise is false and misleading. The FBI is required to follow established policies and procedures, to include a thorough investigation, when suspending or revoking a security clearance,” the FBI said in a statement to The Times.
According to the disclosure, the first of these alleged politically motivated security clearance investigations targeted employees associated with Mr. Friend and Mr. Seraphin.
Additionally, SecD recently attempted to recruit between 100 and 300 special agents to conduct these internal probes temporarily, according to the whistleblower information.
Another SecD employee says that Mr. Seraphin’s security clearance investigation was not done by the policy from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.
Mr. Seraphin was subjected to a security clearance investigation, according to the disclosure, after his field office notified FBI official Dena Perkins that a police officer who was out of his jurisdiction confronted him about practicing his firearm shooting at a range/shooting area.
“The minor allegations against Seraphin had no national security nexus. An administrative misconduct investigation would have likely resulted in, at most, a letter of censure or written counseling,” the disclosure states. “However, Seraphin had previously refused to take a Covid vaccine, which was an obvious indication to SecD that an employee is politically conservative.”
“There were approximately 300 FBI employees who refused to take the Covid vaccine and were communicating with each other about the FBI Headquarters’ discriminating against conservative Christian employees and others who refused the vaccine for political reasons,” the disclosure to lawmakers read.
One FBI employee said a special agent in the bureau’s Miami Field Office was temporarily assigned to conduct SecD security clearances of associates to Mr. Friend.
The disclosure accuses FBI brass of violating the Security Executive Agent Directive IV (SEAD IV), disseminated by the ODNI, which is its national security guideline for allowing agencies of the Intelligence Community to conduct security clearance adjudications.
“Specifically, SecD Section Chief Section Matthew Nagle, Deputy Assistant Director Lawerence Buckley, and Assistant Section Chief Dena Perkins have caused security clearance investigators to adjudicate security clearances in a manner that is contrary to the SEAD IV guidelines,” the disclosure said.
SecD is “intentionally misinterpreting the SEAD IV guidelines so that it can deny, suspend and revoke security clearances of FBI employees because of political affiliations and beliefs.”
The disclosure said that these officials in the security division have been exaggerating single incidents of alleged misconduct to be substituted for multiple incidents of misconduct while using security clearance investigations to substitute for internal misconduct investigations.
When an internal investigation finds minor misconduct incidents, the penalty typically ranges from oral or written reprimands to performance counseling, according to the whistleblowers’ account.
“Nagle, Buckley, and Perkins have been expanding the scope of security investigations in a manner that violates ODNI’s rules and policies,” the disclosure states. “The basis for security revocations are specifically enumerated by ODNI.”
A SecD employee said that Ms. Perkins, who has been in her current job since 2018, retaliated against an employee who reported her to the office of Attorney General Merrick Garland. The day after the complaint was filed, Ms. Perkins suspended the employee’s clearance.