headshot
Coleen Rowley
retired FBI Special Agent and former Minneapolis Division legal counsel of the FBI

Coleen Rowley grew up in a small town in northeast Iowa. She obtained a B.A. degree in French from Wartburg College, Waverly, Iowa and then attended the College of Law at the University of Iowa and graduated with honors in 1980 also passing the Iowa Bar Exam that summer. In January of 1981, Rowley was appointed a Special Agent with the FBI and initially served in the Omaha, Nebraska and Jackson, Mississippi Divisions. In 1984 she was assigned to the New York Office and for over 6 years worked on Italian organized crime and Sicilian heroin drug investigations. During this time Rowley also served three separate temporary duty assignments in the Paris, France Embassy and Montreal Consulate. In 1990 Rowley was transferred to Minneapolis where she assumed the duties of "Chief Division Counsel" which entailed oversight of the Freedom of Information, Forfeiture, Victim-Witness and Community Outreach Programs as well as providing regular legal and ethics training to FBI Agents of the Division and some outside police training. In May of 2002 Rowley brought some of the pre 9-11 lapses to light and testified to the Senate Judiciary Committee about some of the endemic problems facing the FBI and the intelligence community. Rowley's memo to FBI Director Robert Mueller in connection with the Joint Intelligence Committee's Inquiry led to a two year long Department of Justice Inspector General investigation. She was one of three whistleblowers chosen as persons of the year by TIME magazine in 2002. In April 2003, following an unsuccessful and highly criticized attempt to warn the Director and other administration officials about the dangers of launching the invasion of Iraq, Rowley stepped down from her (GS-14) legal position to go back to being a (GS-13) FBI Special Agent. She retired from the FBI at the end of 2004 and speaks publicly to various groups, ranging from school children to business/professional/civic groups, on essentially two different topics: ethical decision-making and "civil liberties and effective investigation." Rowley ran unsuccessfully for U.S. Congress in Minnesota's Second Congressional District in 2006. In February 2005 and again in 2007, a majority of Minnesota congresspersons and senators nominated Rowley to serve on the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board but she was not selected. (This Board was mandated by 2004 federal intelligence reform legislation implementing the recommendations of the 9-11 Commission but never actually functioned until 2013 after Edward Snowden's whistleblower disclosures about the NSA's dragnet surveillance.) Rowley is active in various peace groups such as the Minnesota-based, 35 year old non-profit "Women Against Military Madness" as well as Constitution & rule of law adherence, integrity in intelligence and whistleblower protection groups such as the Sam Adams Associates for Integrity in Intelligence and Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity. She has written several op-eds for major newspapers and publications including the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, The Guardian, and CNN.com. She authored a chapter in a 2004 book published by the Milton Eisenhower Foundation entitled "Patriotism, Democracy and Common Sense: Restoring America's Promise at Home and Abroad," a chapter on civil liberties in the 2012 book "Why Peace" and an essay entitled, "The War on Terror: A False Promise for National Security" (published 2014 in the International Journal of Intelligence Ethics 4: 4-12). Rowley's long term goal is to update Kantian ethics by taking into consideration recent human psychological findings and "brain science." SHORT BIO is as follows: Coleen Rowley is a retired FBI Special Agent and former Minneapolis Division Legal Counsel who taught Constitutional Law and law enforcement ethics to FBI agents and other law enforcement, then became a whistleblower about the FBI's pre 9-11 failures, testifying to the Joint Intelligence Committee Inquiry, the Senate Judiciary Committee and the Inspector General Staff of the Department of Justice. She was named, along with two other corporate whistleblowers, as TIME Magazine's 2002 Persons of the Year. In early March 2003 she warned FBI Director Robert Mueller of further problems, including his going along with the Bush Administration's deceptive plan to launch war on what would become the counterproductive war on Iraq, a country that had nothing to do with the 9-11 attacks. (Sadly enough, despite all facts to the contrary, the Bush Administration was able to fool 70% of the American public into believing that Saddam Hussein was behind 9-11.) Since retiring from the FBI, Rowley continues to write and speak out about the (perpetual) "global war on terror" that has exponentially increased terrorism worldwide and made the situation far worse.

Load More Stories