Time: Tue Jul 15 11:05:12 1997
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Date: Tue, 15 Jul 1997 09:51:11 -0700
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From: Paul Andrew Mitchell [address in tool bar]
Subject: SLS: Can we trust the FBI? (fwd)

>What blows my mind is that this came from READERS DIGEST!  Not exactly a 
>foaming at the mouth anti-government publication that critics would say 
>something like this would appear ....
>   Can We Trust the FBI?
>   As scandals mount, more and more
>   Americans want to know
>   by Brock Brower
>   Three days after he found a deadly bomb in
>   Atlanta's Centennial Olympic Park in July 1996,
>   Richard Jewell was invited by the local FBI bureau
>   to take part in a "training video." Agents told him
>   they wanted to show how he was able to detect the
>   bomb. Would he help? Jewell agreed, cooperating
>   fully as they questioned him about the bomb. Then
>   they asked him to waive his Miranda rights.
>   Shocked, Jewell realized the "training video" was a
>   ruse: they thought he was the bomber.
>   Soon headlines were naming Jewell the suspect.
>   For most of the next 88 days, despite finding no
>   evidence of his guilt, the FBI tailed him
>   around-the-clock with a three-car surveillance team.
>   Only after his lawyer publicized the lack of evidence
>   did the Bureau finally acknowledge that Jewell had
>   been cleared of suspicion in the case.
>   The Jewell harassment reflected badly on
>   the nation's premier law-enforcement
>   agency--in a period when it was already
>   under a cloud. The FBI's chief counsel was involved
>   in questionable dealings with the White House.
>   Long-simmering problems at the FBI Laboratory
>   were boiling over, raising doubts about the evidence
>   in important cases. And a scandal dubbed Filegate
>   had erupted as hundreds of secret FBI files, many
>   on prominent Republicans, were found to have been
>   sent to the White House.
>   Can the FBI be trusted? That's a question most
>   Americans would once have regarded as
>   unthinkable. But the controversies have taken their
>   toll on the Bureau's credibility. "We lost some
>   ground," warns former FBI director William
>   Webster, who singles out Filegate. "The public
>   doesn't like to think that politicians have easy
>   access to their FBI files."
>   A Sauna and Six Big Macs. The problems at the
>   FBI are not what anybody expected from the man
>   President Clinton called "a law-enforcement
>   legend." That was in 1993, when Clinton appointed
>   Louis Freeh as FBI director, replacing William
>   Sessions, who had been fired by the President after
>   a controversy concerning the misuse of perks.
>   "With Louie," says Oliver "Buck" Revell, a past
>   associate deputy director, "we thought we had
>   things fixed."
>   Freeh was not only a respected federal judge and
>   former prosecutor but also one of the Bureau's own.
>   He had joined the FBI in 1975 straight out of
>   Rutgers Law School.
>   During his early days as director, Freeh made a
>   demand for right conduct. "We have been too
>   tolerant of certain types of behavior," he said,
>   calling on agents to uphold "core values such as
>   integrity, reliability and trustworthiness."
>   Freeh also sent 600 agents with desk jobs back to
>   the streets. That's where he had made his own
>   reputation.
>   As a rookie agent, Freeh went undercover and
>   joined a Brooklyn health club where "Big Mike"
>   Clemente, a mob capo, did business in the sauna
>   to avoid wiretaps. Clemente took a shine to the
>   "out-of-work lawyer" he knew as Luigi Rossi and let
>   him see fat envelopes change hands. They held
>   marked bills--solid, if damp, evidence of payoffs. At
>   his arraignment, Clemente still didn't know Freeh
>   was an agent. Spotting "Luigi" in the room, he sent
>   his lawyer to the prosecutors with a message:
>   "Leave the kid alone. He had nothing to do with it."
>   Soon afterward Freeh succeeded in bugging the
>   office of mobster William "Sonny" Montella by
>   befriending his four vicious guard dogs; he fed them
>   six Big Macs every night. Faced with incriminating
>   tapes, Montella agreed to wear a wire that resulted
>   in the successful prosecution of Tony Scotto, a
>   leader of the Gambino crime family.
>   In 1981 Freeh moved up to prosecuting cases.
>   Hired by crime-busting U.S. Attorney Rudolph
>   Giuliani of the southern district in New York City, he
>   put together the biggest Mafia drug case ever. "The
>   Pizza Connection" involved a string of pizzerias
>   used as drug drops by a ring headquartered in
>   Sicily. Of 18 defendants, 16 were convicted on drug
>   charges. (Another was murdered by his partner.)
>   Then came the Nail Bomber Case. In December
>   1989 nail bombs wrapped as Christmas gifts killed
>   a federal judge and a civil-rights lawyer. The FBI
>   suspected Walter Leroy Moody, a loner previously
>   convicted on federal bomb charges. After the
>   suspect's arrest, Freeh convinced the court to let
>   him bug Moody talking to himself in his cell. The
>   man's taped admission to mailing the bombs
>   earned him seven life sentences plus 400 years.
>   Helping Freeh win the case were FBI Special Agent
>   in Charge (SAC) Larry Potts and a new assistant
>   U.S. attorney named Howard Shapiro. Two years
>   later, as SWLs--colleagues who have "Served With
>   Louis"--they would help Freeh take over leadership
>   at the Bureau.
>   Blind Spots. That original headquarters team of
>   SWLs, critics charge, split Freeh from the rest of
>   the FBI and led to many of Freeh's subsequent
>   problems.
>   The first involved Potts. Freeh made him acting
>   deputy director, even though Potts had yet to be
>   cleared of responsibility for the 1990 deaths of an
>   unarmed woman and her son, shot by an FBI sniper
>   in Ruby Ridge, Idaho.
>   After reviewing the case, Freeh removed the
>   on-scene commander, Eugene Glenn, from his FBI
>   post, but only reprimanded Potts. Glenn fought
>   back, claiming that a missing post-incident analysis
>   would prove the Ruby Ridge standoff with tax
>   resisters was run by Potts's people at
>   headquarters.
>   It turned out that document had been shredded by a
>   Potts assistant. Freeh had to suspend Potts,
>   confessing "a blind spot" toward his deputy. "He
>   was my friend," Freeh candidly told Congress. "He
>   still is." Potts is among five agents still under
>   Justice Department investigation for mishandling the
>   incident.
>   The "blind spot" defense has raised concerns out in
>   the field. Freeh suspended Jim Fox, SAC in New
>   York City, two weeks before his retirement for
>   talking on TV about an FBI informant. Freeh then
>   suspended SAC Jim Ahern in Phoenix just as
>   abruptly for making remarks about Janet Reno. Yet
>   Freeh would fire Potts only after long agonizing and
>   under pressure. As former FBI director Webster
>   cautions, "You can't have any appearance of a
>   double standard."
>   Still, Congressional critics gave Freeh the benefit of
>   the doubt, since Ruby Ridge had occurred before
>   his watch. Many were impressed with his
>   achievements on the job, including the capture of
>   Unabomber suspect Ted Kaczynski and the
>   peaceful resolution of the standoff at a Montana
>   ranch, where 60 "Freemen," including women and
>   children, had threatened another Waco.
>   Questions of Conduct. Then came the explosion
>   that took two lives in Atlanta's Centennial Olympic
>   Park--and Richard Jewell's peculiar interrogation.
>   "To do it the way we are told it was done just blows
>   my mind," a veteran agent told Reader's Digest.
>   Throughout Jewell's "interview," the agents were on
>   an open phone line to FBI headquarters. And later
>   that month, when agents searched his mother's
>   home, Jewell says he heard them talking on the
>   phone to a "Louis." Freeh denies he was in contact
>   with the agents.
>   More Bureau embarrassment was to come.
>   Last summer Congressional investigators
>   discovered that someone in the FBI had
>   sent the White House hundreds of sensitive
>   personnel files, primarily on former Republican staff
>   members. They contained information protected by
>   the Privacy Act, and they were handled at the
>   White House by two low-level political operatives,
>   Craig Livingstone and Anthony Marceca. In the
>   subsequent Congressional investigation, Marceca
>   pleaded the Fifth Amendment, then dropped out of
>   sight.
>   Freeh took the blame for "egregious violations of
>   privacy." But while Freeh's personal integrity was
>   not questioned, new revelations lessened his
>   support in Congress.
>   Freeh's old friend, FBI chief counsel Howard
>   Shapiro, had given a heads-up to the White House
>   of an FBI report linking First Lady Hillary Clinton to
>   Filegate figure Livingstone. In the report, then-White
>   House Counsel Bernard Nussbaum was quoted as
>   saying that Livingstone came "highly recommended
>   by Hillary Clinton."
>   Nussbaum denied saying this to the FBI. Shapiro
>   sent agents to question the FBI agent, Dennis
>   Sculimbrene, who had interviewed Nussbaum.
>   "They would have liked to have had me say I made
>   it up," remembers Sculimbrene, who had been
>   doing background checks for the FBI at the White
>   House and Congress for 16 years. "They asked me
>   so many times it became embarrassing."
>   Sculimbrene stood by his report. That same day,
>   other agents searched Sculimbrene's office.
>   Comments former CIA head James Woolsey, "It's
>   one thing to try to intimidate a member of the Cali
>   cartel. It's another to try to intimidate one of your
>   own agents."
>   Meanwhile, Gary Aldrich, for five years an FBI agent
>   at the White House, published Unlimited Access,
>   alleging security breaches by White House staffers.
>   The White House immediately launched a media
>   counterattack. They had been alerted to Aldrich's
>   charges by Shapiro, who delivered a copy of the
>   manuscript to the White House counsel's office
>   while the FBI was still vetting the book.
>   A Justice Department investigation found that
>   Shapiro had used "very poor judgment." He
>   resigned last June without any discipline having
>   been imposed.
>   Trouble at the Lab. Another blow to trust came
>   when FBI chemist Frederic Whitehurst alleged
>   gross deficiencies at the FBI Lab, which analyzes
>   evidence for police departments nationwide--some
>   600,000 pieces of evidence a year. A subsequent
>   probe revealed evidentiary problems in at least 50
>   cases, including the Oklahoma City bombing.
>   Shapiro wrote Whitehurst in 1994 that the Bureau
>   would "fully investigate" his charges. But when
>   Freeh removed three officials responsible for errors
>   at the lab, he also suspended whistle-blower
>   Whitehurst.
>   Freeh is fierce in asserting his
>   independence, even refusing an
>   Administration request for intelligence that
>   he concluded would compromise the FBI's
>   investigation into campaign finances. He maintains
>   his fidelity to civil liberties, emphasizing in an
>   interview that "if we can't perform our functions
>   according to the Constitution and the law, we'd be
>   better without a police agency."
>   Nevertheless, morale throughout the Bureau has
>   fallen. Last summer dozens of supervisors with vital
>   field experience chose to retire--many because, as
>   one agent claimed, Freeh "is surrounding himself
>   with people who aren't agents."
>   That charge is seconded by former associate
>   deputy director Revell. "Freeh has put people in
>   places of authority who have no management,
>   leadership or investigative experience," he says.
>   "Thousands of good, decent men and
>   women serve their country as FBI
>   employees," says Sen. Charles Grassley
>   (R., Iowa), chairman of the Senate Subcommittee
>   on Administrative Oversight and the Courts, which
>   oversees the Bureau. "Those agents, along with the
>   American people, deserve leaders who have
>   integrity and credibility. Today, the FBI is buried
>   under a mountain of evidence showing that it cannot
>   police itself."

Paul Andrew Mitchell                 : Counselor at Law, federal witness
B.A., Political Science, UCLA;  M.S., Public Administration, U.C. Irvine

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