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December 2022


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Retired ATF Official Phillip R. Price Dies at Age 75

Phillip Price

By Allan Lengel

Phillip R. Price, a 23-year veteran of ATF, died Sunday morning. He was 75 and was from Lancaster, Ky.

After serving in the military, Price returned to his home state of Kentucky to become a state trooper.

In 1967, Price was recruited to join the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax Division of the IRS, (known today as the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and explosives, or, ATF).

During his 23 year career with ATF, Price held field and supervisory assignments in Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio, Michigan and Washington,

DC, where he retired in 1988 as the Chief of the Special Operations Division. He retired from ATF in 1988.

After that, he began a second career as an investigator for the U.S. Department of State. He served the Bureau of Diplomatic Security for 25 years until his passing.

He is survived by his wife of 30 years, Deirdre. He is also survived by his sister, Helen Coburn of

Livermore, CA, his daughter Lori Gibbs of The Plains, VA, his son, Adam, of Washington, DC, his grandson, Matthew Gibbs of Pensacola, FL, his niece, Karen Stanfield of Lexington, his niece, Tammy Thurman of Livermore, CA, and his nephew, Tony Coburn of Sonoma, CA. Also mourning Phillip’s loss is Roxann Stacey of Sherrills Ford, NC, his first wife and the mother of his children, and her husband Anthony Stacey, with whom he remained close. He is preceded in death by his mother, Lilia Mae Price, and sister, Patsy Evans of Prestonsburg.

A viewing is planned for Friday, September 13, 2013 from 5:00pm to 8:00pm at Spurlin Funeral Home in Lancaster, Ky.Viewing will be followed by a brief service at 8:00pm.



Retired FBI Official Says of the FBI’s Robert Mueller III: “I Never Doubted His Dedication to This Organization”

As part of an effort to get a broad view of Robert S. Mueller III’s tenure as FBI director, I’ve asked people to write and tell me what they think.  On Monday I published some comments. Later in the day,  I received this from Tom McClenaghan, a retired FBI agent. — Allan Lengel

Robert Mueller/file fbi photo

By Tom McClenaghan

I retired four years ago after 25 years in the FBI. Had the pleasure of being SAC in two field offices and was able to see first hand Director Mueller’s impact on the Bureau.

While I didn’t always agree with some of his decisions I never doubted his dedication to this organization. I wonder if some of his Bureau critics have forgotten how perilously close the FBI was to being broken up into two agencies along the lines of MI5 and Scotland Yard .

At the time, Great Britain was finally realizing the dysfunctional nature of having its domestic intelligence and national law enforcement agencies separated and were making attempts to combine their efforts following the FBI model. Despite this, members of Congress were very close to breaking up the FBI into a likewise organizational mess. I don’t believe anyone other than Mueller could have convinced the Bureau critics in Congress to leave the FBI in its current form.

To read additional comments click here. 

Records: FBI Continues to Investigate Deceased Rolling Stone Journalist Michael Hastings

Steve Neavling 

The FBI continues to investigate Rolling Stone journalist Michael Hastings, who died in a car crash in June, for “controversial reporting,” Al Jazeera America reports.

The bureau opened a file on Hastings on June 11, 2012 “to memorialize controversial reporting by Rolling Stone magazine on June 7, 2012,” according to records obtained by the news agency in a FOIA request.

The story, called “America’s Last Prisoner of War,” featured a lengthy investigation about U.S. soldier Bowe Bergdahl, who was captured by the Taliban in June 2009.

Details of the investigation remain fuzzy, but the FBI documents describe Hastings’ store as igniting “a media frenzy, speculating about the circumstances of [redacted] capture, and whether U.S. resources and effort should continue to be expended for his recovery.”

‘Dirty Old Man’ Charles Bukowski, a Late Novelist and Poet, Was Subject of FBI Scrutiny

Steve Neavling 

Late novelist and poet Charles Bukowski was not ashamed to admit it – he was a “dirty old man.”

That caught the FBI’s attention, as did Bukowski’s potential ties to the underground press, reports the Los Angeles Times.

More than 100 pages of FBI files from 1968 show agents investigated Bukowski, a postal worker and notorious drunk, but had a hard time finding anything relevant.

The focus was on Bukowski’s recurring column, “Notes From a Dirty Old Man,” which ran in the underground newspaper Open City, a subject of FBI interest.

Former FBI Analyst Gets More Than 4 Years in Prison for Possessing Child Porn

Steve Neavling

A former FBI analyst was sentenced to more than three years in prison Monday for possessing child pornography, The Washington Post reports.

Keith Dietterle, 28, who admitted to sending a pornographic image to an undercover officer, was nabbed in an undercover sting in November.

Dietterle was busted after communicating through a social networking site with an undercover officer who was posing as the father of a young girl, the Post reported.

Dietterle was sentenced to 42 months in prison and 10 years of supervised released, the Post wrote.


Who’s Right? Former Border Patrol Agents Challenge Number of Illegal Immigrants in U.S.

Steve Neavling 

Former Border Patrol agents estimated that the number of illegal immigrants in the U.S. is nearly twice the estimate of 11 million by the government and other demographers, the Washington Times reports.

“The more likely figure is 18-20 million and rising daily,” Zack Taylor, chairman of the National Association of Former Border Patrol Officers, Inc., said in an open letter dated Sunday.

NAFBPO released its estimates as it continues to oppose a Senate bill that would grant legal status to some illegal immigrants, the Washington Times wrote.

Demographers have said illegal immigrants peaked at 12.4 million in 2007 before a precipitous drop.

M-13 Gang Member Found Guilty of Execution-Style Murders of Mother, 2-year-old

Steve Neavling

A federal jury has found notorious gang member Adalberto Ariel Guzman guilty of murder, conspiracy to commit murder and firearms offenses, the FBI reports.

Monday’s conviction offers some relief to family members and friends of a mother and her 2-year-old who were shot execution-style in Central Islip, New York, in 2010.

Guzman, a member of M-13, faces up to life in prison during sentencing on Jan. 9, 2014.


Readers’ Comments on the Tenure of FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III Are Mixed

Robert Mueller III/ photo

By Allan Lengel

Robert S. Mueller III got quite an initiation when he started with the FBI. Just days after becoming director, he was faced with the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

His term was supposed to last 10 years, but his tenure was extended two extra years. That extension ended this month.

Not everyone agrees on tenure. Unquestionably, he was a stoic fella, who took the job very seriously. He was very dedicated.

After Sept. 11, 2001, he retooled the FBI, putting a heavy emphasis on terrorism. Some thought he went too far, particularly those who dealt with corruption and violent crime.

Some thought he was a great boss. And others, well, they didn’t care of his style.

I asked folks to send me comments on his tenure. Positive or negative, I asked that the comments be thoughtful and within good taste.

The following are some responses I got. If you still care to comment, or I missed your email,  I can add. Submit your comments to:

Mike Mason/fbi photo

MIKE MASON, retired  Executive Assistant Director of the FBI.

I believe history will show that Robert Mueller was the absolute right person at the right time to assume the helm of the FBI. The FBI needed to change and needed to do so quickly. In the face of a historic attack upon our country, the standard way in which the FBI operated, specifically the significant autonomy granted to each of the FBI’s 56 field office’s Special Agents-in-Charge was not going to be an effective model to address the rising threat of terrorism facing the United States.

This fight called for a concerted effort across the country and around the world. Director Mueller met this challenge by significantly reorganizing and growing the FBI. He understood immediately that unless there was a single, nationwide level of tight, daily sharing of relevant information, we had no chance of containing an enemy that did not respect territorial boundaries. Managing terrorism cases out of Washington made each case national…even international in scope. The timely sharing of critical information, operational methodologies and even the creation of a common taxonomy required a massive collaborative effort and Mueller possessed the vision to achieve those objectives.

Did he make some FBI employees unhappy along the way, absolutely, but when has that not been a cost of change? Bob Mueller was one of the most focused, intense leaders for whom I have ever worked. The FBI is a better place because of his vision to bring about radical change to an organization that was too often wed to its historic roots.



I first met Director Mueller in the New Haven division in early 2002.  At the time, I was a member of the Director’s Advisory Group (DAC), specifically Aegis, the support employee advisory committee.  I asked Director Mueller if he would be continuing with the DAC’s the Directors Sessions and Freeh had worked with.  He advised he would.

From spring of 2002 until Spring of 2013, when I stepped down after my second term as Co-Chair, I had the opportunity to meet with Director Mueller and his executive staff on numerous occasions.  We were always treated with respect and kindness.  We had many discussions regarding the concerns and issues of employees across the bureau.  The issues ranged from studies of positions for possible upgrades to the impact of any furloughs on employees.  Did we get everything we asked for, no.  Did we have many discussion regarding our issues and why they would or wouldn’t be considered.

Yes, it didn’t always go our way but we usually came away with  an understanding as to why it couldn’t be.  Will I say his tenure was perfect, no.  But I was truly honored to be a support employee who had the opportunity to represent my peers and I know our concerns were heard and no decision was made without thoughtful consideration.  



I retired from the FBI 3 months ago after 22 years as a Special Agent.  I don’t know if Director Mueller was the worst FBI Director during my career (Director Sessions was questionable as well), but he was certainly the most disliked.  It was very obvious that he had no interest whatsoever in agents, their interests or their morale, and it was universally known by all that he did not care for FBI Agents from the beginning.

In fact, we knew during his time as a US Attorney that he did not care for the FBI, so we were all confused as to why he would take such a position. He made it very clear during his tenure that Analysts were his focus and their interests were his mission.  Analysts were brought in at a pay grade higher than agents could achieve unless they went into management, and this sent a very poor message about his regard of agents. Many agents often joked that it would not be long before all of our weapons were taken away and we were all reassigned as analysts.

The increase we are now seeing in violent street crime was expected by most of us after he directed the majority of criminal squads to be shut down and those agents transferred to counter terrorism squads.  It takes someone with a law enforcement background to understand what is needed in an organization like the FBI.  When you are asked to do more with less you need to show your people that you still have their interests in mind – most of us felt like we were expendable to Director Mueller and we were VERY disappointed when his tenure was increased by two more years.

Just for your information, in my opinion, the best Director during my career, by far, was Louis Freeh.  He had been an agent and understood what we dealt with on a daily basis and I think that is necessary for the job. I just wanted to share my opinion – thank you for asking for them!



The US Attorney General and other heads of agencies publicly praise Mueller’s service at the Bureau but there’s another side the public doesn’t know.

Mueller’s personnel decision practices has deeply scared the morale of FBI employees. He brought Joe Demarest in from retirement to lead the NY office, effectively telling all of the onboard Senior Executives they couldn’t handle the job.

He appointed Sean Joyce as Deputy Director, who is now the performance evaluator of SACs – Agents who head individual FBI field offices – but Joyce himself has never been an SAC.

These are just two examples of personnel appointments that would cause anyone to shake their head. So was Mueller’s tenure at the Bureau beneficial to the agency…… Yes and no. We are a different agency because of the employees’ dedication to be a better agency.

But while Mueller led change, he also sucked the life of morale out of the Bureau, leaving numerous wounds behind because he did things his way instead of the right way. This is what the public doesn’t know.



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