[ISN] FBI Investigating Missing Briefcase

From: InfoSec News (isnat_private)
Date: Sun Aug 19 2001 - 23:48:44 PDT

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    [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.
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