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Date: Mon, 24 Nov 1997 19:54:57 -0800
To: (Recipient list suppressed)
From: Paul Andrew Mitchell [address in tool bar]
Subject: SLS: Novak: Reno's bid for files puts FBI in turmoil (fwd)

>Chicago Sun-Times
>November 24, 1997
>Reno's bid for files puts FBI in turmoil 
>A veteran FBI agent resigned in September after refusing a demand by
>Attorney General Janet Reno to give the Justice Department the names of
>highly sensitive, secret China contacts. This sent a wave of outrage
>coursing through the bureau and surely will prompt new congressional
>concerns about Reno.
>Ray Wickman, former head of the FBI's intelligence unit monitoring
>Chinese operations, was contacted at his home in suburban Washington and
>told me, ``I took my retirement,'' but he refused to say more.
>However, well-placed--and outraged--bureau sources said Wickman's
>resignation was his only recourse because of the Justice Department's
>threatened compromise of FBI intelligence. ``It was an insult,'' a
>veteran agent told me.
>This shocking development follows months of confusion over the FBI and
>Justice Department investigation of alleged Chinese attempts to
>influence American politics. But beyond a suspected Justice Department
>cover-up of Clinton campaign scandals, the integrity of the FBI is at
>stake. New questions were raised about FBI Director Louis Freeh's
>credibility when he privately and implausibly professed ignorance of the
>Wickman affair.
>High-level officials at the FBI and the Justice Department, when asked
>what happened, put out this story on a not-for-attribution basis: When
>Wickman decided to resign, he was asked to turn in his sources on the
>Chinese account, but he declined to do so because he was concerned about
>their ``low quality.''
>That sounds like bureaucratic nonsense, and close colleagues of Wickman
>in the bureau say it certainly is. They say Wickman quit after, not
>before, he refused to turn over his sources. Far from being of low
>quality, the Chinese sources and the intelligence derived from them are
>regarded by FBI professionals as the best in the bureau. What's more,
>they consider these files as the most sensitive kept by the FBI.
>The word that the Justice Department, clearly on Reno's orders, was
>demanding raw files sent shock waves through the bureau. The anger
>transcends the suspicion that Reno, the supposedly nonpolitical attorney
>general, was seeking to protect President Clinton politically and goes
>to the integrity of the 89-year-old FBI.
>``The purpose of the FBI is to safeguard sources,'' a senior FBI agent,
>appalled by the Wickman affair, told me. ``The whole idea is to keep
>sources secret from the Justice Department. If Justice is going to have
>full access to our files, we have no purpose.''
>Reno, who generally has managed to convey a reputation of unshakable
>integrity, is viewed with fear and loathing throughout the FBI. No
>recent attorney general has been so suspected of attempting to
>compromise law enforcement.
>But efforts to penetrate the Chinese secrets preceded Reno. A few years
>ago, according to FBI sources, an inspector general's draft report
>recommended closing down the unit because it was ``inefficient.'' The
>reason: refusal to reveal their operations to the inspector general. The
>draft report was torn up.
>There also is suspicion in FBI ranks of their bright young director, who
>is so popular among both parties on Capitol Hill. Freeh, a 47-year-old
>former federal district judge, when asked by a Republican member of
>Congress about Wickman's resignation last month, replied he had heard
>nothing about it.
>``Of course, he heard about it,'' a disdainful FBI official told me.
>Nobody in the FBI will talk on the record about what happened, and most
>(including Wickman) refuse to talk even not-for-quotation. But they soon
>may be forced to tell all under oath by Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), a
>member of both the Governmental Affairs Committee investigating
>campaign-finance scandals and the Judiciary Committee, which has
>jurisdiction over the Justice Department.
>``I would like to bring the Department of Justice and FBI officials in
>to testify in closed session,'' Specter told me. The former Philadelphia
>district attorney has been increasingly critical of Reno and now may
>have doubts about Freeh, as well. They and their subordinates will be
>summoned to explain what's going on. And the senators also would be able
>to hear the truth from Ray Wickman, a loyal and principled public
>servant who stood up to the attorney general's power play.
>Robert Novak is a nationally syndicated columnist of the Sun-Times.

Paul Andrew Mitchell, Sui Juris      : Counselor at Law, federal witness 01
B.A.: Political Science, UCLA;   M.S.: Public Administration, U.C.Irvine 02
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