Former FBI Agent: The Bureau Has a Problem With Women

susan-surftone

FBI director James Comey is wrong. Those supporting his actions regarding Huma Abedin’s emails — which may pertain to Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server as secretary of State — are wrong. His letter to Congress about these emails and Clinton was a grave misstep, which, no matter how you spin it, interferes with next week’s presidential election.

As I'm a former special agent for the FBI, Comey's action makes me want to cry. As an ardent supporter of Clinton, it makes me furious. I'm hearing that conservative agents in the bureau were unhappy with Comey’s decision earlier this year to not recommend that criminal charges be brought against Secretary Clinton in connection with her server and pressured him to inform Congress last week about the discovery of Abedin’s emails, with no further information about what those emails contain. This is McCarthyism for the 21st century. Not only is it about Clinton’s politics, it's about her gender. I believe many agents cannot stand the idea of “Madam President.” I was a young female agent in the 1980s, and one of the things I learned about at the bureau was misogyny. Maybe things have changed, but I’ll share my experience.

The allegations of Donald Trump’s predatory sexual behavior toward women and the infamous bus recording brought up long “forgotten” personal experiences at the FBI. I was sexually harassed twice while at the bureau. The first time was during training at Quantico by a fellow trainee in my class. He was married, by the way. This guy had been after me for a while. One night at the lounge at Quantico, where beer was served to a group of us, he was there and drinking a bit too much. I got up to leave and he stuck his fingers under my rib cage. It hurt like hell. A female classmate helped me get him off me. Another time, a male classmate had to come and help me get him out of my room. There was no one to tell. It would have damaged my career, and the fact that I am a lesbian would have made it all the more risky for me. There were already rumors.

When I graduated from the FBI Academy at Quantico, I went to the Boston field office. My first supervisor wanted to take me the "Combat Zone" in Boston, an area of strip joints and so forth, because innocent young female agents should see such things under the protection and guidance of an older, experienced agent. Yeah, right. This guy had a reputation for this, and of course I said no. I was soon moved to another squad. The joke was I had tended bar at a hotel near the Combat Zone while in law school; an evening there was like the lyrics of Lou Reed’s “Walk on the Wild Side.” I had seen it all, thank you, Mr. Bureau Supervisor.

One thing I did notice in the Boston and New York field offices was the number of affairs between male and female agents. It was commonplace and almost seemed that it was expected of the female agents. That was never spoken, of course. Of course we female agents were lesser in every way. Once I served a subpoena with another young female agent, and many of the male agents were troubled that (a) we were “allowed” to do it and (b) we were successful. I left the bureau because I wanted to pursue a musical career, but I also left because of the misogyny and a desire to be open about being gay. Yes, I think even today “Madam President” is a hard pill for many of them to swallow.

In the face of Comey’s interference with the election and the advantage he has given Trump in the closing days, LGBT people must get to the polls and vote. We are “other” to many of Trump’s blue-collar supporters. We are to blame for their country going to hell. I was raised by two of them. Some of the hurtful and hateful things my parents said to me about being gay will ring in my ears until the day I die. Luckily for me, I never believed them. Look at Trump’s inner circle — Gingrich, Giuliani, Christie, the captains of the alt-right, and don’t forget Mike Pence. We are in their sights as soon as they can get their Supreme Court picks in place. We cannot go backwards and live in the shadows ever again. Not for ourselves, not for those of us who are children today, and not for those of us yet to be born. Vote as if your life depends on it because it does. Hillary needs us and we need her.

Susan Surftone
SUSAN SURFTONE is a musician and just released her latest EP, The Magician

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