Frank Figliuzzi rose through FBI ranks to run its Counterintelligence Division – responsible for neutralizing spies that steal precious secrets and technology.
Frank Figliuzzi grew up in southern Connecticut, but with his eyes and ears tuned to the nearby New York City media market and to enthralling stories of mob busting FBI agents. Those amazing tales made a big impression on a young Frank. As an 11-year-old, he wrote a letter to a senior FBI special agent, asking how he could one day join their ranks. To this day, he still has the personal reply that he received, encouraging him to pursue that dream.
Back then, the FBI primarily hired attorneys and accountants to become special agents, and so Frank later went to law school, to polish his resume for the FBI. It worked, and in 1987, after graduating from the FBI Academy, Frank was assigned to the Atlanta field office, where he began a career working – among other things – counterintelligence cases.
In counterintelligence work, the FBI tries to identify and neutralize threats from foreign intelligence services that seek to steal our military, economic, and trade secrets. Our adversaries also attempt to recruit US persons and to turn them against our own country. In this episode, Frank describes the vital work he did in counterintelligence, including how his recruitment of a double agent from another country to assist the United States, came to a sudden halt when the FBI and the United States was betrayed by one of its own – Robert Hanssen – a disgraced former FBI special agent now serving a life sentence in a federal prison for espionage. It is a fascinating and disturbing story.
Frank’s long and distinguished career in the FBI, took him to many different places – San Francisco, Washington, D.C., Cleveland. Among the most challenging posts he held was in the FBI’s Office of Professional Responsibility, where he imposed discipline – including dismissal – on men and women who violated the FBI’s strict code of conduct – decisions that were often agonizingly difficult but necessary to preserve the integrity of the organization.
At the end of his FBI career, Frank ran the Counterintelligence Division of the FBI, and instituted important changes to ensure that intelligence analysts and special agents worked more closely together to protect our nation from relentless foreign adversaries.
Frank was a thoughtful and principled leader and has written eloquently about his time at the FBI and about its core principles – such as compassion, credibility, and consistency – in his new book, The FBI Way.
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