The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is one of the most successful and elite government agencies in the world. It has recorded perfect records in cracking the most complex cases in the world ranging from terrorism, spies, and criminal cases, for instance, an investigation into Alcatraz Prison Escape, Aldrich Ames, Russian spy among others. The FBI has become a symbol of success and secrecy among governmental agencies in both international and local crimes, and the bureau has proven to be a badass day in day out. When you set a sky-high standard everyone in the country look at your performance, a slight mistake is spotted faster. But the FBI has had their share of failures too. They have made shameful errors that even the nation is certainly not proud of. Here are the top 10 greatest FBI fails of all time.

The FBI Used the Wrong Video for a Wanted Murderer

The case of mistaken identity was one of the greatest fails of the FBI. There is a general saying: “you cannot hide from the FBI,” however, the most wanted fugitive hibernated from the FBI for 16 good years, probably living on U.S. soil while the bureau searched from him everywhere else. The former FBI informant and leader of organized crimes James “Whitey” Bulgar was rated just behind Osama Bin Laden on their most wanted fugitive list. Bulgar was wanted for money laundering, multiple extortions, over 20 murders, narcotics distribution, organized crimes, racketeering, conspiracy to commit murder, extortion among other crimes.

He was on the run from the FBI for 16 years before his capture in St. Monica, US. The FBI used supposedly his most recent photos and video taken at Sicilia resort in the manhunt for Bulgar. With the help of the Germany crime show to hunt for Bulgar using the images and video that turned out to belong to the Bulgar’s father and mother, who are harmless and innocent retiree German citizens. The FBI was confused which photo to use because they were convinced, through their expert vetting that it was their most wanted fugitive only to be disappointed. It took the FBI five days to take down the photos of the German couple from their website even after confirming they were not their target fugitive, Bulgar and Greig.[1]

Agents Forgot a Classified Document in a Suspect’s Home 2010

In a search, seizure, and surrender operation conducted by the FBI on seven homes of activists in Chicago and Minneapolis, the agents made the worst mistake that no one expects the government agency agents of their status could ever do. They left behind classified documents in one of the suspect’s houses, belonging to a couple, Mick Kelly and Linden Gawboy. The operation entailed seizure of records, books, cell phones, computers, passports in the process, the agents left behind their classified operation order documents. The operation order documents contained the raid plan, surveillance photos, interview questions to the suspects.

It is hard to believe, but given the nature of the raid that entailed seizure of over ten boxes of documents, books, and computers, the couple’s house was left in a total mess. The documents left behind surfaced seven months later when the couple was going through the remains of the documents and paperwork in the house. The document titled dangerous list activists Jessica Rae Sundin and Merideth Aby who are suspected of supporting the Revolutionary Armed Force of Colombia following their recent visit and attendance of the RAFC peace summit in Colombia. The humble advice and plea to the FBI and other law enforcement agencies, please, when you raid someone’s house, do not forget to leave with the classified documents and the surveillance photos you came with. Because this puts not only your operation at risk but also your and suspect’s life at great danger.[2]

The FBI Let the Nazi Spy Ring Leader Off the Hook, 1938

The FBI busted the Nazi spy ring in the U.S. in 1938, a year before the start of WWII. It started with the arrest of Rumerich who was busted impersonating the U.S. secretary of state ordering 35 blank U.S. passports to be sent to his hotel. Rumerich was contacted by his handler requesting for 35 U.S. blank passports to sneak spies in Russia, he was, however, arrested as soon as the blank passports landed in his hands. He readily cooperated by naming more Nazi spies including the Nazi spy ring leader Ignatz Griebl. The FBI arrested Griebl, and he also exposed more Nazi spies, they were all arrested, thanks to the swift and incredible response by the FBI.

However, the FBI goofed when one of the FBI agents informed the spies that they would testify before a grand jury as a means to justice. The information that resulted in most of the spies encompassing Griebl to flee, leaving only Rumerich and two other spies to face prosecution. This was a great FBI failure because the Nazi spy ring leader Griebl was supposed to be in the FBI custody, all factors considered. Surprisingly Griebl was never in the FBI custody, and they only made him take the lie detector and left him even without monitoring his movements and activities. The bureau was also sloppy with sensitive information to the suspects.[3]

An Agent Married the ISIS Fighter She Was Investigating 2014

The predator is falling in love with the prey! One of the greatest FBI fails when the FBI agent Daniel Green, with top-secret security clearance, tasked to investigate the wanted terrorist and criminal ISIS fighter Denis Cuspert ends up getting married to him. The terrorist was a former German rapper with stage name Deso Dogg, joined the ISIS and gained ranks, thanks to his prolific fighting skills. It is highlighted that Cuspert is one of the ferocious fighters and among the top ISIS leaders. He featured in a video holding a severed human head and threatened the then reigning U.S. president Barack Obama.

On multiple accounts, Green lied to the FBI officials and obstructed the arrest of the Cuspert by feeding the Handler with false intel. For instance, she told the FBI deputy director she was going to Germany to visit her family when she escaped to Syria into ISIS region through Turkey to stay with her new husband. After living for a while as an ISIS bride, she realized it is not all rosy to be married to the ISIS leader. She fled back to the U.S. where she was arrested and sentenced for two years in federal prison after pleading guilty of her crimes. The federal courts stated that Green violated the public trust, the trust of the top FBI officials who granted her top-secret security clearance, and the trust of her colleagues at the Bureau and thus endangered the nation’s security. It is not only the FBI failure but is also very shameful and embarrassing to the most sacksful government agency in the country.[4]

The FBI Agent in Charge of New York Lost the Counterterrorism Plans for the City, 2000

The FBI launched an internal investigation into one of the seniors most officials, John O’Neil who lost a briefcas3e containing the FBI’s classified documents. Among the documents in the briefcase was the annual office report which covers all the active counterterrorism operations and counterespionage operations in the New York office. The other document contained information about an FBI informant, a careless mistake that such a reputable agent should never make. The report indicates that the agent left the briefcase in the conference room to attend an FBI meeting in Tampa, Fla. when it was stolen.

The police recovered the suitcase and brought it back to him several hours later. The Justice Department decided not to prosecute the case as they scanned the fingerprints of the document to confirmed that they had not been accessed. This was a big mistake to such a decorated agent who has been in charge of several successful Counterterrorism operations including the 1998 U.S. embassy bombing in East Africa. Such fail by the FBI, though minimal, puts the country’s national security at risk as well as thousands of its employees around the world.[5]

An FBI Agent Crashed a Stolen Ferrari During a Joyride

The stolen Ferrari was recovered, thanks to the FBI’s effort and hard work, the owner’s delight, and happiness was short live because the supercar crushed while the FBI agent was testing it. The recovery occurred during the Drug bust in Kentucky in 2008; however, the Ferrari had been reported missing in 2003, the owner, Motor Insurance had paid out the claim by the Ferrari’s original owner. The Motor Insurance were delighted to be informed of the find, but the FBI refused to release the car claim its part of an active investigation only to be crushed a year later by an FBI agent Fred Kingston who decided to take the assistant U.S. Attorney J. Hamilton Thompson for a joyride.

The insurance company sued the U.S Justice Department for an amount worth $750 000 which was the total cost of repair, which the department declined to pay. According to the Assistant U.S. Attorney, the car began sliding seconds after they took, the agent tried to gain control in vain, leading to the crash. While the Department of Justice cites that the FBI is not liable to pay the repair expenses since the Ferrari was in detention at the time of the crash.[6]

The FBI Director Called Poland “A Nazi Accomplice” 2015

The FBI director James Comey suggested in the Washington Post in 2015 that Poland assisted the Nazi during World War II. The FBI director’s comment raised a heated debate around the world concerning the validity of the statement. The president of Poland demanded a public apology from the U.S. government following the FBI directors’ insult to thousands of Poles who helped the Jewish during WWII. Many history scholars also accuse the FBI director of what the termed his inability to genuinely present history as it is. The U.S. is accused of the falsification of historical facts, and the U.S. ambassador in Poland was summoned to issue an apology.

Here is the exact wording of the FBI director Comey: “In their minds, the murderers and accomplices of Germany, and Poland, and Hungary, and so many, many other places didn’t do something evil. They convinced themselves it was the right thing to do, the thing they had to do.” The comment implicates Poland as compliance of Nazi Germany in perpetrating the Holocaust. When approaching for the commend, the FBI director stated that the opinion that Poland was responsible for the Holocaust was not the position of the US, he reiterated the U.S. ambassador to Poland’s statement that Nazi Germany alone was responsible for the murders. Hungary also joined Poland to condemn the FBI chief.[7]

FBI Deliberately Used Someone Else’s Picture on Bin Laden’s Wanted Poster, 2010

Imagine waking up one morning, and you find your photograph facial image alongside the most headed terrorist in the world? Gasper Llamazares, a Spanish politician, was surprised to see his face used by the FBI to develop the aging face of Osama bin Laden. The use of the “cutting edge” technology, the FBI forensic expert lifted Llamazares photo and pasted it to be the most current bin Laden’s image posted on the FBI website of the most wanted terrorist. The federal government justice department wanted to get the most recent Bin Laden’s aging image to use of what he is supposed to look like, and the FBI forensic expert downloaded Llamazares image from the internet and utilized his parts to make the Osama image.

It is unethical, unprofessional and shameful for the most reputable U.S. government agency to use the image of a real person to draft the image of the most loathed terrorist around the world. The Spanish politician vowed to sue the FBI for risking his life. According to Llamazares, it is no longer safe for him to travel to the U.S. for, and he fears for his life for he may be assassinated thinking he is the terrorist. The FBI chief issued to Llamazares a written apology describing the incident as unfortunate.[8]

The FBI Allowed a Soon-to-be Mass Murderer to Legally Buy a Gun 2015

The South Carolina, Emanuel AME in Charlton in June 2015, was one of the failures of the FBI, which allowed the mass murderer to purchase the gun. Dylan Roof, a 21-year-old white supremacist, joined the worshipers in the church during a bible study, after about an hour he extracted his handgun and gunned down 9 African American members of the congregation. The gun was legally purchased upon approval by the FBI who are supposed to run background checks for all gun buyers before giving the seller a go ahead.

Both the Lexington County sheriff department and FBI had the record that states that Roof was arrested for narcotics, a crime which he pleaded guilty, this alone disqualifies him from legally owning a gun, yet the sloppy FBI approved the purchase which resulted in the Charlton church shooting. The director of FBI James Comey admitted that Roof should never have been allowed to own a gun in the first place. It was attributed to the confusion among the law enforcement that filed his narcotic arrest record wrongly to another county department failing. It is evident and undeniable that the death toll in the church-shooting off on the hands of the FBI, courtesy of their approval for the mass murderer to acquire the weapon.[9]

FBI’s Philadelphia Office Was Burgled 1971

Eight members of the activist movement, Citizens to Investigate the FBI broke into the FBI office in Philadelphia and made away with over a thousand classified documents. The activists were against the Vietnam war. The stolen documents revealed several FBI illegal surveillance activities. For instance, the FBI Counter Intelligence Program termed COINTEL PRO was an FBI operation program tasked to factionalize and generate mistrust among civil rights movement and discredit activists such as Martin Luther King.

It sounds hilarious that the activists did not even use sophisticated equipment to access the Philadelphia FBI office apart from a crowbar and lock pick expert. Bennie Raines, the brain behind the whole operation posed as college student interviewing several FBI agents on Job Opportunities for women at the FBI in the planning process. The activists were never arrested because the FBI failed to trace the perpetrators of the burglary in their office. After 43 years, the activists Bonnie Raines wife to retired religious professor John Raines, her husband, and Keith Forsyth, the cab driver, confessed to being the organizers of the FBI Philadelphia office burglary.[10]

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