A SPECIAL AGENT by Frank Buttino


Gay and Inside the FBI
Email this review


 A jumbled account of how Frank Buttino, a 20-year FBI special agent, is fired--and fights back--when the Bureau receives an anonymous letter accusing him of being gay. The letter includes a collection of billets-doux from someone answering personals in gay magazine: These appear to be in Buttino's handwriting. So begins a Golgotha-like road of four years of harassment of Buttino by the Bureau--including the revocation of his security clearance, followed by his discharge- -and of Buttino's maverick decision to be the first to fight the FBI's unwritten policy against gays. What follows here, though, is a sinking dirigible comprised of an enormous cast of characters, some of whom appear briefly only to vanish, or to turn up 200 pages later. And throughout this ever-shifting cast winds a labyrinthine coil--spun by the author with the help of his brother, Lou (For the Love of Teddi, 1991)--of minute legal maneuvering. More awkward still are Buttino's Norman Rockwell- styled pictures of gay life, perhaps intended to show that gays are really no different from straights. But despite the poor presentation, the enduring reader will find here a man of courage and unusually principled character, one whose sanity makes the FBI look like the Mad Hatter's tea party: While Buttino was in a command post in San Diego, for instance, directing 200 agents in an investigation of an Iranian-inspired bombing, the Bureau was putting him through polygraphs and interviews daily for three months, designed to revoke his top-secret clearance--treatment that brought Buttino to thoughts of suicide. Frustratingly, the story ends with the author's suit against the FBI still unresolved. An important story--but a lackluster treatment that will engage only the most resolute of readers. (Photographs--not seen)

Pub Date: June 22nd, 1993
ISBN: 0-688-11958-1
Page count: 356pp
Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1st, 1993