http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/aponline/20010819/aponline135934_000.htm [Computers, firearms, and now a briefcase with classified secrets, how these items are almost regularly lost, misplaced and stolen constantly amazes me. You would have to have me at gunpoint for me to surrender my laptop, or briefcase and I have no national security secrets to worry about falling into the wrong hands. - WK] The Associated Press Sunday, Aug. 19, 2001; 1:59 p.m. EDT NEW YORK - The FBI has begun an internal investigation into one of its senior counterterrorism officials, whose briefcase filled with documents on national security operations was stolen after he left it in a hotel conference room, The New York Times reported Sunday. The FBI is trying to determine whether John O'Neill, special agent in charge of national security in the agency's New York office, mishandled classified information in violation of bureau procedures, the Times said. The briefcase was stolen, but recovered by authorities within hours with the contents inside, the newspaper said. The FBI began its own inquiry after the Justice Deparment conducted a criminal investigation and declined to prosecute, the Times said. The Justice Department declined to comment Sunday. The newspaper said O'Neill earlier declined through FBI officials to comment. O'Neill had left the briefcase in the conference room while attending an FBI meeting last year in Tampa, Fla., and reported it missing after his return, the paper said. The briefcase was recovered within hours, and fingerprint checks indicated the contents had not been handled by anyone else. The theft was attributed to thieves believed responsible for a series of hotel robberies in the Tampa area, the Times said. Documents in the briefcase included an annual report on security operations in New York, which included details of every FBI counterespionage and counterterrorist program in that jurisdiction, the newspaper said. Officials told the paper that O'Neill became the subject of intense scrutiny partly because law enforcement officials did not want to treat the matter lightly after the cases of former CIA director John Deutch, who lost his security clearances after mishandling classified material, and Wen Ho Lee, a government scientist who pleaded guilty to mishandling classified material. O'Neill, 49, played a key role in investigations of such cases as last year's terrorist attack on the destroyer USS Cole in Yemen and the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Ethiopia. O'Neill, a 25-year FBI veteran, already was preparing to retire, possibly as soon as next week, the Times said. - ISN is currently hosted by Attrition.org To unsubscribe email majordomoat_private with 'unsubscribe isn' in the BODY of the mail.
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