The story of FBI whistleblower Theresa Foley is distasteful and sordid - one too often told when speaking of FBI whistleblowers.
Theresa Foley is no shrinking violet. She came from a law enforcement family and was a DEA support employee before joining the FBI in 2000. In 2003, Theresa volunteered for Guantanamo Bay Naval Base (aka GTMO), Cuba, which contained a military prison where FBI agents participated in the interrogations of detainees from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Theresa was the only full-time female FBI agent. After arriving at GTMO, she was given a rat-infested dwelling, while male agents had cleaner and better housing (many at Navy lodges or base houses). Theresa’s dwelling had previously been a party “hooch,” and food, dirty dishes, and soiled furnishings were everywhere. There was an overwhelming stench, and rat feces and urine were visible throughout the rooms. The first night Theresa spent at the dwelling was a long one, and she slept poorly. She kept hearing rats running in the ceiling and in the walls and the mattress was full of fleas. Each time she finally fell asleep, she was re-awoken by another rat or fleabite.
For the next several days, Theresa asked for different housing but was told there was no other space. Like other FBI whistleblowers, Theresa is dedicated, honest, hardworking, articulate, and extremely proud of her role as an FBI agent, believing that her role at the Bureau was a career, not just a job. She continued working hard.
Personnel came in to set rattraps and ended carrying out bags full of carcasses. A month later, Theresa was finally moved to other housing. She had begun to notice that FBI agents were behaving in a college fraternity house manner. There was no real oversight, and beach parties were common, with personnel coupling up, and a pervasive party atmosphere with heavy drinking. Similar to what happened with the recent Secret Service scandal. When Theresa did not join in, was subjected to crude and misogynistic comments.
Theresa began swelling from the bites she had received, her lungs were congested, and she was fatigued. As an athlete, she knew something was wrong with her body, but she could not get any assistance from the FBI at GTMO. Theresa flew to Florida on her own dollar to seek medical advice.
After returning from Florida, her health continued to deteriorate. Theresa flew home to Boston in early 2004, where doctors at Beth Israel Hospital diagnosed her with Leptospirosis, a debilitating tropical disease, usually caused by exposure to rat urine or feces. She returned to duty shortly afterwards with chronic fatigue and a simmering infection from the bacteria caused by the disease. She again found herself ridiculed and harassed for not joining in the “FBI family” fun at GTMO. This included drinking, dressing up in detainee prison suits or Arab attire at parties, sexual misconduct,
and unprofessional behavior.
The sexual slurs continued, until one day an FBI Firearms Instructor (knowing she had a tropical disease with physical limitations and was a whistleblower) advised her that unless she knelt during firearms, she would be subjected to a Fitness for Duty exam and lose her career. Always the good agent, Theresa knelt, rupturing the muscles in her leg, releasing bacteria throughout her body. Her immune system collapsed, and Theresa went home to Boston in July 2004. She has been there ever since, bedridden, living with her father and mother.
Theresa Foley is an FBI whistleblower. She blew the whistle on the unprofessional misconduct of fellow FBI agents. The outcome of blowing the whistle in the FBI is usually retaliation, dismissal, and a cover-up. Standard FBI procedure includes perjury, “missing” documents, altered reports, and punishment against the whistleblower. This occurred is Theresa’s case.
Bedridden since 2004, Theresa has undergone eight surgeries, numerous hospital stays, two spinal fusions, and a hysterectomy, all directly traced to the tropical disease she caught at GTMO. She has no hope of children, and her glorious career is lost forever. Her life is an unending cycle of pain. She is totally disabled. Her days consist of trying to get the medicine and medical procedures that she desperately needs. Her medical claims have to be processed through the FBI, and they appear to be intentionally slowing or stopping medical assistance.
Although the FBI proclaims itself as a “family,” this does not extend to whistleblowers. Whistleblowers are routinely retaliated against and driven from the Bureau. FBI Director Robert Mueller is well known for glad-handing politicians and talking about his support for whistleblowers, but his honesty has come into question, as his actions over the last eleven years have spoken far louder than his empty words. Director Mueller and his legal counsel tie up whistleblower cases for years, making it prohibitively expensive and emotionally draining. They have unlimited amounts of taxpayer money to accomplish their goal, and they spare no expense in using the legal system to further retaliate.
Theresa has waited for justice since 2004, and in the last eight years not a single FBI “family” employee has come to see her. She has never received a note, a call, a visit, or any other semblance of civility from the FBI. She has been riddled with infection, and her body is slowly failing her because of a tropical disease that she caught while employed as a Special Agent.
Theresa’s father, a man who was proud of his daughter when she graduated from the FBI Academy, felt many emotions as he watched his daughter slowly waste away – emotions that ran the gamut from fear to anger. He could never understand how the FBI and Director Mueller could treat his daughter so brutally and punitively. Could others not see that his daughter had served the FBI with fidelity, bravery, and integrity? He remarked that the FBI was just waiting for his daughter to die, and that her departure would end the problem she presented as a whistleblower.
Theresa Foley has hung onto life, waiting for her opportunity in court. She swears she will see that day and will not leave this earth until she finds justice. Death, however, found her father, and he departed this earth last week still heartbroken over the treatment his daughter received. No FBI employee came to his wake or the funeral. His daughter received no cards, no flowers, and no calls, even though she is still attached to the Boston FBI office.
The same time Theresa’s father died, the FBI filed a motion in Washington D.C. asking for summary judgment and dismissal of Theresa Foley’s case. Her case has recently been moved from Boston to Washington D.C. at the behest of the FBI, knowing that travel for Theresa would worsen her already critical condition. One more impediment to throw down, one more injustice, one more voice silenced, as the FBI waits for Theresa Foley to die.