The FBIAA was founded in April 1981 in response to the growing recognition that agents needed to join together in order to protect and advance the interests of their profession. The Association was incorporated under the laws of the District of Columbia as a non-profit corporation on September 18, 1981.
History of The Founding of The FBI Agents Association
By SSA Craig L. Dotlo (retired)
FBIAA First President 1981 - 1988
In the late 1960s and early 1970s, the United States Government faced a highly agitated and disgruntled segment of the American people. The very controversial Vietnam War and contentious civil rights struggle produced social unrest, including many violent demonstrations.
A number of college students formed a group known as "Students for a Democratic Society," which primarily protested the Government's policies on the Vietnam War and the Selective Service draft system. A radical faction of this group splintered into a new organization referred to as the "Weathermen."
Following the accidental destruction of a Weathermen bomb factory in New York City, the group went underground. While fugitives from justice, the members of the Weathermen Underground continued to protest Government policies through a series of criminal acts including bank robberies, burglaries and bombings of Government offices and ultimately the bombing of the United States Capitol.
The FBI was directed by the President and the Attorney General to vigorously and expeditiously locate and apprehend those who had become known as the "Weathermen Fugitives." The FBI directed its agents in New York and other key areas to utilize "sensitive techniques" including surreptitious warrantless entries and wire taps.
About the same time, it became clear that President Nixon's tenure was in serious jeopardy because of charges relating to the Watergate scandal. In this highly politicized climate, the media, the Department of Justice and Congressional committees began examining other perceived areas of Government abuse including warrantless entries by Special Agents searching for the Weathermen Fugitives. These FBI agents were characterized by prominent national public officials as "renegades." Since the Weathermen Fugitives had conspired with hostile foreign nations, FBI senior officials had concluded that the more liberal National Security Guidelines were applicable in these investigations. This interpretation obviated the need for the more traditional judicial warrant process for search and electronic surveillance required in criminal investigations. FBI Headquarters did not initially acknowledge that it had authorized the "sensitive techniques" and failed to assert that field agents were operating with Headquarters' authority and not as "renegades."
Detailed information about these FBI initiatives became front page headlines, which led the new Attorney General under the Carter Administration to order a complete investigation of FBI activities. The Department of Justice subpoenaed and vigorously investigated "street agents," who were compelled to appear before Grand Juries. Many of these agents lacked the financial resources to retain competent counsel to protect themselves from the consequences of having done their jobs as instructed. Ultimately, the Field Division Supervisor, who headed the New York Office Weathermen squad, was indicted by a Federal Grand Jury in New York for violations of civil rights statutes. The indictment was based on the Department of Justice's presentation of the "facts" to the Grand Jury. Street agents were held criminally responsible for policies sanctioned by the highest level of the Executive Branch.
Field agents across the country knew that the Supervisor's activities had been authorized by FBIHQ, and their anger and frustration finally boiled over at what was clearly intended to be the railroading of a dedicated colleague. This suffering and torment led FBI agents to independently form an ad hoc group named "The Special Agents Legal Defense Committee." This informal and meagerly financed committee met with great success because agents from across the nation rallied in support of a common purpose. The committee raised thousands of dollars for victimized agents and organized letter writing campaigns to members of Congress and newspapers throughout the country. A newsletter was published to keep agents informed of the latest events. More important, these efforts united agents in the common cause of giving aid and comfort to our colleagues, who found themselves in trouble simply because they had done their jobs. This grass roots group allowed FBI street agents to tell their side of the story to the American people, while FBIHQ remained tight-lipped because of a Department of Justice gag order.
Finally, a group of New York agents uncovered documents in FBI files proving that the FBI Supervisor who had been indicted had acted with the full knowledge and authorization of the Director. It took those agents one week to find documents that the Departmental lawyers had been unable to locate during a year long investigation. The Department was forced to move for dismissal of the indictment. Although two high level FBI Headquarters' officials were convicted of civil rights violations in Washington, D.C., they were subsequently pardoned by President Reagan.
The unjust indictment and the effective action mounted by the united field agents offered lessons that the agents were quick to learn. A rally on the steps of the Federal Courthouse in New York drew national attention to the injustice of the indictment. A fundraising campaign helped cover the legal expenses of all the agents involved in the investigation. Independently, field agents began a serious study that established definitively the foreign connections to the Weathermen. Apparently, those links were not seriously considered by the Department of Justice.
On the positive side we learned that agents can, when united and determined, take responsible and productive action on their own. Street agents had learned that they could not necessarily rely on administrators at FBI Headquarters or the Department of Justice to protect their rights or their professional interests--especially in an environment highly charged with political considerations.
It was from this experience that a desire grew to form an agent's association to address the concerns of its members, not merely in time of crises, but on a continual basis. We needed access to competent legal counsel and to a united voice that would be heard by administrators at the FBI, by members of Congress, by the media, by our national leaders and by the American people.
With the growth of the Association, we have been able to significantly influence the law enforcement profession at the Federal level in several ways. Our views are sought by members of Congress, we are invited to serve on Governmental commissions; our opinions are publicized in the media; our recommendations are given to the Director of the FBI; and our overall contributions serve as a benefit for all FBI agents.
The FBI Agents Association has sought to bring about change in the FBI through the use of logic and compelling arguments. We are dedicated to improving the Bureau to ensure all FBI agents are treated in a fair manner and to ensure the best possible climate for the effective discharge of their professional duties
The Association's relentless struggle over many years led to a complete restructuring of the Bureau's administrative inquiry system. Basic due process rights were put in place for the first time in early 1997.
Federal Employees Pay Comparability Act
With the help of relentless Association-initiated efforts, The Federal Employees Pay Comparability Act was passed in 1990. Association participation in the work of The National Advisory Commission on Law Enforcement and aggressive lobbying on Capitol Hill spearheaded action on this legislation and ensured that special provisions were included to address the needs of law enforcement. As a result, FBI Agents continue to reap the benefits of locality pay, increased entry-level pay, relocation bonuses, and other advantages
Memorial College Education Fund
The Association is responsible for the establishment of a college trust fund for the children and spouses of deceased agents. This education assistance program has made a college education a reality for young people whose road to further learning might have been interrupted.
Retirement Source Tax
Association lobbying efforts to pass a federal law invalidating state source taxes were successful. Now a retired agent may move to a state other than the state from which the agent retired, and not be concerned that the state in which the agent served will continue to levy an income tax on his/her pension.
Accelerated Grade Raises
The Association strongly advocated the implementation of accelerated raises for Special Agents. The FBI agreed to this proposal in 1996 with the result that the time required for promotion to the GS-13 level was shortened from 7 years to 5 years.
The Association participated with Bureau officials in the development of a package of more generous relocation expense reimbursements and allowances. More realistic and fair transfer allowances now apply, particularly on the sale and purchase of a home.
The Sam Hicks Act
Passed by the Congress in May of 2010 and later signed into law by the President in June of 2010, this Act grants statutory authority to the heads of federal law enforcement agencies to assist the families of 1811s killed in the line of duty with relocation costs if they need to move back to their home communities. The result of intensive lobbying and bi-partisan liaison by the FBIAA, the Act was named in honor of SA Sam Hicks, who was murdered during the lawful execution of a narcotics related search warrant in Pittsburgh on November 19, 2008.
The Member Assistance Fund
This tax deductible fund was established for the purpose of providing financial assistance to Members and their families who have been affected by a sudden unforseen tragedy or catastrophic event. The impetus for the Fund was the donations received by the FBIAA for the FBI victims of Hurrican Katrina, a series of California wildfires, and a terrorist attack in Islamabad, Pakistan, which could not be treated as tax deductible donations. Now, the generosity of donors can be properly recognized.
Sick Leave Reform
The FBIAA and other federal associations and unions lobbied extensively and successfully to have accumulated Sick Leave under FERS credited to an employee's length of service for pension calculation purposes.