February 25, 2003The Honorable Robert S. Mueller
Federal Bureau of Investigation
935 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20535
Dear Director Mueller:
I am writing to you about your "Presidential Rank Award" to Marion "Spike"Bowman and the FBI's response to my January 9 letter about the matter.
Today, Sen. Leahy, Sen. Specter and I released a report of our investigation into the FBI's problems implementing the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). In addition to the cultural and systemic problems plaguing the FBI and the processing of FISA warrants, the report highlighted problems with the National Security Law Unit.
The report shows that Mr. Bowman (named as "Attorney #1" in the report) and three other attorneys who work with him could not provide the legal definition of "probable cause," which is one element needed to obtain a FISA warrant. (Pages 43-44).
The two supervisors at headquarters who handled the Zacarias Moussaoui case also did not understand the basic elements of FISA, even though they were questioned in July of 2002, long enough after the attacks of September 11, 2001 for them to re-examine the facts of the case and to refresh their understanding of the relevant legal concepts. Mr. Bowman bears a great deal of responsibility for their obvious lack of training.
This is one reason why I was so concerned about the award you granted him, and the message it sends to agents in the field.
In my original letter, I asked that you read the transcript of this session so you could see the evident problems first hand. I understand that another FBI official read the transcript instead. This person stated in the FBI response letter that you are "already generally familiar with the issues raised at that hearing." Yet the letter omits any mention of the deficiencies Bowman and the other attorneys demonstrated. The transcript of the sessions makes the problems plain and explicit.
Our report on the FBI's FISA problems is hardly the only record of this issue. The Joint Inquiry of the Intelligence Committees, in particular, highlighted FISA problems at the FBI, particularly in the Moussaoui case. All of these problems are not Mr. Bowman's fault, but many of them have occurred during Mr. Bowman's tenure. This is another reason I was concerned by the award. Yet it seems the FBI is reluctant to admit mistakes, a problem I had hoped you would fix. I appreciate the biographical information about Mr. Bowman and an explanation of his duties and accomplishments. I do not doubt his work ethic, integrity or patriotism. I do question his judgment in a particular case. This case, in a substantive sense, was an important indicator of the attacks of September 11, 2001. In a symbolic sense, the case and all of its problems were indicative of what needs to be fixed at the FBI, particularly with regards to FISA and headquarters personnel.
We obviously disagree on this matter, but I had hoped you or your representative would have taken the transcript of our interview of Mr. Bowman and others more seriously. Perhaps the report released today can explain my concerns more fully.
In the future, I hope more care is taken in granting the "Presidential Rank Awards."
Sincerely,Charles E. Grassley