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Last Updated

14 Sep 2003

Source: Washington Post, September 7, 2003

Hatfill Ex-Colleague Gets FBI Job

Analyst Gave Details on 'Person of Interest' in Anthrax Probe

By Marilyn W. Thompson, Washington Post Staff Writer

The FBI has hired a former colleague of Steven J. Hatfill who provided the bureau with information about him for its long-running anthrax investigation, an unusual move that some experts said could pose an appearance of conflict of interest if the government tries to use the employee as a prosecution witness.

An FBI spokesman said the recent hiring of Glenn Cross as a full-time counterterrorism analyst based at FBI headquarters is "not related to the anthrax case" and would not prevent him from testifying before a grand jury or in a court proceeding.

Although Justice Department guidelines permit the FBI to make cash payments to confidential informants, lawyers say it is unusual for the FBI to give a full-time government position to a person who has worked with the bureau in developing a criminal investigation.

Such a relationship "blurs the distinction as to what this person is," said criminal defense lawyer Abbe D. Lowell, "and you never want to blur the purity of your witnesses."

Hatfill's attorney, Nick Bravin, declined to comment on Cross's new role at the FBI. Pat Clawson, a Hatfill friend who served until recently as his spokesman, said Cross's cooperation with the bureau was well known at the company where the two worked, Science Applications International Corp. in McLean.

Reached at the FBI, Cross declined to comment and referred questions to the FBI press office.

Hatfill, 49, has not been charged in connection with the 2001 anthrax attacks that killed five people and sickened 17 others, but he has been singled out by Attorney General John D. Ashcroft as a "person of interest" in the investigation.

Last month, Hatfill filed a lawsuit that accuses the FBI and the Justice Department of an unprecedented campaign of harassment. Now unemployed, Hatfill said that the FBI's tactics have included months of round-the-clock surveillance, wiretaps and job interference.

A federal grand jury has been empaneled in the anthrax case under the supervision of Roscoe C. Howard Jr., U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia. In recent months, many of Hatfill's friends and colleagues and his former employers have said that they provided documents under grand jury subpoena.

Howard declined to say whether the grand jury has begun calling witnesses in the case, one of the largest and most expensive criminal investigations the FBI has ever conducted.

Sources familiar with the case said that FBI anthrax investigators have interviewed Cross extensively about his relationship with Hatfill and his concerns in the fall of 2001 about possible security risks posed by Hatfill's work with classified government projects.

Hatfill's supporters said that Cross and Hatfill were work rivals and that Cross reported information to his bosses and later to the FBI that heightened interest in Hatfill early in the anthrax investigation. Hatfill was first interviewed by the FBI in the fall of 2001 at his SAIC office. The company is a large government consulting firm whose work includes classified projects for the CIA and the Pentagon.

Clawson said that Hatfill told Cross exaggerated "war stories" about his years in Rhodesia and South Africa that Cross took seriously and reported to his superiors, expressing concern that Hatfill could be a security risk.

"Steve amused himself by telling him some whoppers," Clawson said. "Cross repeated these stories to government officials. The stories seemed to get larger and even more exaggerated with the retelling."

In August 2001, Hatfill lost his security clearance after a CIA-administered polygraph test yielded inconclusive results. Sources familiar with Hatfill's SAIC work record said that CIA polygraph examiners tested him as part of his application for top-secret clearance. They reported inconclusive results to questions about his years and relationships in Rhodesia and South Africa, and as a result, his regular security clearance was suspended.

After losing his clearance, Hatfill appealed the decision and continued to work on some SAIC projects, but the firm terminated him in March 2002 as the FBI intensified its scrutiny of him.

Cross remained at SAIC until October 2002, according to SAIC spokesman Benjamin A. Haddad. He said that Cross's job description was "property manager."

Citing privacy concerns, FBI spokesman Ed Cogswell declined to provide the precise date of Cross's hiring or his exact salary, which he said is somewhere between $35,000 and $87,000 a year. He said Cross was hired for his expertise in counterterrorism, an area that now ranks as a top FBI priority.

Cross's importance to the ongoing grand jury probe is unclear, but defense experts said that the FBI has created a thorny issue if it intends to rely on him as a government witness. Attorneys said that prosecutors would face a daunting challenge in trying to convince a jury that a newly hired FBI employee could offer impartial testimony.

Researcher Alice Crites contributed to this report.