Dr. Frederic Whitehurst
Looking Beyond the Blue Line
Updated: Aug 15, 2022
"I would advise anyone in law enforcement to set aside the fear of life after law enforcement and realize that you are so much more than any corrupt organization will allow you to be."
Though not grammatically correct, the author's use of lowercase letters when referencing the "fbi" is intentional. The diminution symbolizes that "the organization does not... represent a human enterprise that deserves respect at this time in its history."
I choose not to remember the exact date I was pushed out of the fbi by a corrupt management system. At the time, I thought of the fbi as my family. I know now that this “family” really limited me. The workplace drama, jealousies, and acceptance of corruption baffled me the entire time I was employed as a fbi special agent.
I entered the fbi with a doctorate in chemistry. I first worked in the field as an investigator for 4 years and then in the fbi laboratory for 12 years as a forensic chemist. While at the fbi laboratory, I noted that what agents would admit to in the halls of the hoover building would be denied under oath in courtrooms. Scientific issues and uncertainties were forbidden; any scientist who raised concerns with fbi management was marginalized because they had suggested something that might embarrass the fbi. Healthy organizations recognize that dissention is a strength which can help identify fresh and alternative solutions to challenges. fbi managers knew that the management advancement paradigm did not include rocking the boat and actively shut down any avenues that might bring errors to light. The fbi’s intolerance for dissention was widely known among America’s adversaries to the point that national security was threated because it was easy to profile fbi responses.
I realized that the fbi was fundamentally weak in many ways. I took my oath of office seriously and upheld that oath by making my concerns known. fbi management first listened and agreed with my concerns but did nothing, telling me that the issues were not my cross to bear. However, upon seeing that I would advance my complaint to each successive level of management when no action was taken, that same management attacked me aggressively. I also made my concerns known outside of the fbi. Over a period of 5 years, I wrote over 230 letters to the US Department of Justice Inspector General. These letters explained my concerns and produced my data. The letters represented contemporaneous notes held not by me, but the US Department of Justice. They could not be destroyed by my computer being crashed or my home being broken into. They represented my thoughts and concerns along with those of my colleagues who were troubled by what they saw but were afraid to bring them up themselves. I blew the whistle on the fbi for 7 years, an effort which has freed many innocent individuals from prison who were convicted based upon false and misleading testimony from fbi laboratory agents. Along the way I realized that I would be sent away from my fbi family. Without employment to support my own family, I set about reengineering myself.
The skills I acquired as a forensic chemist investigating terrorist bombings were not widely transferable, so I applied and was accepted to Georgetown Law School. I worked in the laboratory during the daytime and went to law school at night. An fbi deputy general counsel once advised me that if I just understood the law, I would see that the issues I was raising were just not that important. Upon acquiring the degree, the very same deputy general counsel advised me that law school was just about theory; I would need to actually practice law to really understand the issues’ importance. Upon leaving the fbi, I studied for and passed the North Carolina bar exam and opened my own law office. Through it all, I found that I had really wasted a good deal of my life under the yoke of a failed institution, the fbi. I was, and am, a lot more than what I was allowed to be in the fbi. I have been more than able to support my family and live a very comfortable life while at the same time continuing to speak about the uncertainties in forensic science.
I would advise anyone in law enforcement to set aside the fear of life after law enforcement and realize that you are so much more than any corrupt organization will allow you to be. There is a whole world of opportunity for good people with strong moral compasses. To those individuals who choose to raise issues about corruption within law enforcement, be sure that you thoroughly document the facts before you raise the issues and REENGINEER YOURSELVES while employed. And remember that you don’t have to be a storybook hero to bring about change. You just have to uphold your oath of office.
Frederic Whitehurst fought in the U.S. Army in Vietnam and blew the whistle on war crimes that he witnessed. After his military service, he earned a Ph.D in chemistry and became a special agent and later a Supervisory Special Agent for the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Crime Laboratories. He blew the whistle on issues in the FBI crime laboratories ranging from outdated equipment to perjury and misconduct committed by fellow agents. Whitehurst was personally involved in the following investigations: 1993 World Trade Center Bombing, Oklahoma City Bombing, O.J. Simpson, Pan Am 103, Y2K Bomber, the assassination attempt against President George Bush, the Boston Marathon Case, the Shoe Bomber case, and the Investigation of the FBI crime laboratory by the U.S. Senate and U.S. Congressional Committees.