Program Particulars: Work and Conscience

Program Particulars

(01:40) Rowley's Letter to Mueller

Read an edited version of Rowley's 13-page memo to Director of the FBI, Robert Mueller from May 2002.

(02:04) Senate Hearing

On June 6, 2002, the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on counterterrorism in which Coleen Rowley testified. Read the end of the testimony by Ms. Rowley.

(02:53) Whistleblower Provision Reference

Read the provision known as the "Whistleblower Protection Act of 1989" that Rowley appealed to after sending her letter. The act protects federal employees from retaliation for reporting crimes, corruption, and errors made within federal agencies.

(03:00) Krista's Reference to Time Persons of the Year

Read the cover article naming Coleen Rowley of the FBI, Cynthia Cooper of WorldCom, and Sherron Watkins of Enron Time's 2002 Persons of the Year.

» Enlarge the image The Feminine Touch: An essay by J. Edgar Hoover touting the importance of women performing administrative functions and being excluded from being a Special Agent.

The Feminine Touch: An essay by J. Edgar Hoover touting the importance of women performing administrative functions and being excluded from being a Special Agent.

(03:58) Rowley's Interest in FBI

Before Rowley was a teenager, she had wanted to be a special agent after watching the television series The Man from U.N.C.L.E. In response to writing the FBI, she received the pamphlet "99 Facts About the F.B.I."

Read an essay, "The Feminine Touch", written by J. Edgar Hoover, in which he lauds the importance of women performing administrative functions and justifies women being excluded because of the physical rigors of being a Special Agent. An excerpt from the pamphlet rationalizes why women can't be FBI agents.

(07:52) Quote from Time Read by Krista

Read the entire article "The Special Agent," written by Amanda Ripley and Maggie Sieger, in the December 22, 2002 issue of Time from which the quote was excerpted:

…when Rowley upbraided her beloved FBI in a secret 13-page memo, she thought she was on a private rescue mission. In her view, it was not a reprimand but an act of redemption.

(11:20) Rowley's References to Books and Studies She Read

  • The Cross and the Beatitudes: Lessons on Love and Forgiveness by Fulton J. Sheen
  • The Fall (La Chute) by Albert Camus
  • Conformity Study by Solomon Asch: Listen to the BBC's radio series Mind Changes, which explores this 1951 landmark experiment in psychology.
Photo: Mark Zdechlik, Minnesota Public Radio

Photo: Mark Zdechlik, Minnesota Public Radio

(13:55) Excerpt from May 2002 Letter to FBI Director

Read an edited version of Rowley's 13-page memo to Director of the FBI, Robert Mueller from which the following excerpt was taken:

I feel at this point that I have to put my concerns in writing concerning the important topic of the FBI's response to evidence of terrorist activity in the United States prior to September 11th. The issues are fundamentally ones of INTEGRITY and go to the heart of the FBI's law enforcement mission and mandate. Moreover, at this critical juncture in fashioning future policy to promote the most effective handling of ongoing and future threats to United States citizens' security, it is of absolute importance that an unbiased, completely accurate picture emerge of the FBI's current investigative and management strengths and failures. To get to the point, I have deep concerns that a delicate and subtle shading/skewing of facts by you and others at the highest levels of FBI management has occurred and is occurring.

(16:43) Bonhoeffer Quote by Rowley

In discussing religion, Rowley paraphrases Dietrich Bonhoeffer:

Faith does not exist apart from human conflict but is born of complete engagement in this world.

This passage derives from a portion of a letter that Bonhoeffer wrote to Eberhard Bethge in 1944, and can be read in its entirety in Letters & Papers from Prison:

I discovered later, and I'm still discovering right up to this moment, that is it only by living completely in this world that one learns to have faith. One must completely abandon any attempt to make something of oneself, whether it be a saint, or a converted sinner, or a churchman (a so-called priestly type!), a righteous man or an unrighteous one, a sick man or a healthy one. By this-worldliness I mean living unreservedly in life's duties, problems, successes and failures, experiences and perplexities. In so doing we throw ourselves completely into the arms of God, taking seriously, not our own sufferings, but those of God in the world — watching with Christ in Gethsemane. That, I think, is faith; that is metanoia; and that is how one becomes a man and a Christian (cf. Jer. 45!) How can success make us arrogant, or failure lead us astray, when we share in God's sufferings through a life of this kind?

(18:35) Reading from Footnote of Rowley Letter

Read an edited version of Rowley's 13-page memo to Director of the FBI, Robert Mueller, from May 2002.

By the way, just in the event you did not know, let me furnish you the Webster's definition of "careerism - - the policy or practice of advancing one's career often at the cost of one's integrity". Maybe that sums up the whole problem!

(20:12) Poem Recited by Rowley and Music Sung by Suzzy and Maggie Roche

Read an adaptation of the poem "Anyway," read by Rowley in the program, and sung by Suzzy and Maggie Roche on their 2001 CD Zero Church.

As they researched the prayer, they found that although it is widely attributed to Mother Theresa and may have hung by her bedside, it was actually written by a man named Kent Keith and entitled "The Ten Paradoxical Commandments." It is now circulating around the world in several versions. It was first composed as a set of ethical guidelines for student council leaders.

(26:54) Excerpt from Second Letter to FBI Director

Read the full text of the second letter that was published in the February 26, 2003 issue of the New York Times:

Dear Director Mueller: In June, 2002, on the eve of my testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee, you told me that you appreciate constructive criticism and that FBI agents should feel free to voice serious concerns they may have about senior-level FBI actions. Since then I have availed myself twice of your stated openness. At this critical point in our country's history I have decided to try once again, on an issue of even more consequence for the internal security posture of our country. That posture has been weakened by the diversion of attention from al-Qaeda to our government's plan to invade Iraq, a step that will, in all likelihood, bring an exponential increase in the terrorist threat to the U.S., both at home and abroad. In your recent testimony to the Senate, you noted that "the al-Qaeda network will remain for the foreseeable future the most immediate and serious threat facing this country," adding that "the prevention of another terrorist attack remains the FBI's top priority." You then noted that a "U.S.-Iraq war could prompt Baghdad to more directly engage al-Qaeda and perhaps provide it with weapons of mass destruction." But you did not connect these very important dots.

(35:36) Quote from Richard Clarke

Krista reads an excerpt taken from the "Report of the Congressional Joint Inquiry Into the Terrorist Attacks of September 11, 2001" by National Security Counsel Counterterrorism Coordinator Richard Clarke:

We need a thousand more Coleen Rowleys, and you are never going to get them until you provide them with some encouragement — both from the director of the FBI, from the President of the United States, and most importantly from the Congress.

(36:10) Reference to Government Accountability Project

The Government Accountability Project is a nonprofit organization that helps workers in corporation and government reports an exponential increase in whistleblowing.

(47:35) Reading by McGuire

Read the complete text of Tim McGuire's Six Steps to Becoming a Better "Work Prophet".

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Coleen Rowley

is Special Agent in the Minneapolis Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. (She speaks in a personal capacity and not on behalf of the FBI.)

Since September 11, 2001, she has been examining her own deepest motivations and has become a counselor and role model for others. In this program, she speaks about her personal experiences and how her conscience has developed. What might the high-profile courage of this plainspoken woman have to do with the rest of us, in other fields of work?

is a syndicated columnist, speaker, and facilitator. He's the past president of the American Society of Newspaper Editors and former Vice President and Editor of the Star Tribune in Minneapolis.

Tim McGuire connects the morality of whistleblowing with a larger movement sometimes called spirituality in the workplace. McGuire writes a weekly syndicated column, More Than Work, for United Media addressing ethics, spirituality, and values in work. He traces his interest in this field to a period in which he was searching for ways to reconcile his own values and his style of leadership.