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FBI agents 'cheated' in terrorism exam

FBI agents and several supervisors cheated in an exam about new rules for terrorism and criminal investigations and for collecting foreign intelligence, according to a US Justice Department report yesterday.

The report found that some FBI employees improperly consulted colleagues while taking the exam, and others used or distributed answer sheets or study guides that provided the answers to the test.

A few FBI employees, including several supervisors and a legal adviser, exploited a programming flaw to reveal the answers on their computers, according to the investigation into four FBI offices and several individuals. The report found significant abuses and cheating involving at least 22 employees.

It marked the latest critical report of the agency by the inspector general's office, which has questioned in the past whether the FBI has violated civil liberties as part of its terrorism investigations. On 20 September, the inspector general said the FBI improperly launched investigations of US activists after the 11 September attacks, miscast peaceful protests as acts of terrorism and in one case prompted FBI director Robert Mueller to provide inaccurate testimony to Congress.

Mr Mueller and the FBI reacted to the latest report by saying they were disappointed by the misconduct, acknowledging some responsibility and saying nothing excused the conduct of those who cheated.