Reno Rejects Merger between Fbi, Dea but She Puts FBI Director atop Hierarchy of Federal Law Enforcement Alphabet Soup

Article excerpt

THE DRUG ENFORCEMENT Administration will remain independent, Attorney General Janet Reno said Thursday in rejecting a White House report that pressed for its merger with the FBI.

At the same time, she gave FBI Director Louis Freeh the power to resolve problems arising from overlapping jurisdictions among the Justice Department's four law enforcement agencies: the FBI, the DEA, the U.S. Marshals Service and the Border Patrol.

Her arrangement falls far short of the recommendation by Vice President Al Gore's National Performance Review last month to transfer law enforcement functions of the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms to the FBI.

Gore approved of Reno's version during a meeting Wednesday night, she said.

"So far as I know, the vice president and I were never in conflict. . . . We've been on the same wavelength all along," she said.

Gore said later that Reno's plan would "result in both savings for the taxpayers and enhanced performance of the law enforcement mission."

Presidents Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan also studied an FBI-DEA merger and also decided on lesser steps to coordinate their work.

Rep. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., chairman of the House Judiciary crime subcommittee, praised the retention of the DEA but criticized the appointment of Freeh to the new job of director for investigative agency policies.

"The conflicts between DEA and the FBI have been longstanding, intense and very public," Schumer said.

Although praising Freeh's integrity, he said, "I strongly suggest that this history requires the appointment of a person whose decisions will be beyond even the slightest appearance of partiality. …


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