August 22, 2001: A top al-Qaeda expert quits the FBI due to fallout from a briefcase incident.

John P. O'Neill (Credit: public domain)

John P. O’Neill (Credit: public domain)

John O’Neill, considered the FBI’s top expert on al-Qaeda, retires from the bureau. In July 2000, he left a briefcase containing classified documents in a room with other FBI agents while he went outside to take a cell phone call. His briefcase was missing when he returned. It was recovered by police a short time later with only a pen and lighter missing. Fingerdusting revealed the documents were never touched, and a Justice Department investigation cleared him of any criminal wrongdoing.

However, he felt the incident damaged his career so much that he took a job offer to work as head of security at the World Trade Center. He is killed on 9/11 just a couple of weeks after starting his new job. (PBS Frontline, 10/3/2002) (US Department of State, 3/31/2016)