Grassley Accuses FBI of Botchedterror Investigation, Cover-Up; Says Bureau Tried to Hide Interagency 'Turf Fight'

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), June 21, 2006 | Go to article overview

Grassley Accuses FBI of Botchedterror Investigation, Cover-Up; Says Bureau Tried to Hide Interagency 'Turf Fight'


Byline: Jerry Seper, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

The FBI sought to cover up a "botched" investigation into a terrorist financing scheme by classifying a probe into the case as secret and misleading Congress about how the inquiry was handled, said a senior member of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Sen. Charles E. Grassley said the FBI blocked the full release of an investigative report he sought last year from the Department of Homeland Security and the Justice Department of what he called a "turf fight" between the FBI and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in a terrorism investigation.

The Iowa Republican, a frequent FBI critic who also serves as chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, said the FBI classified as "secret" sections of the report originally marked as "unclassified" during a review process.

Mr. Grassley said an unexplained delay by the FBI in processing a request by ICE investigators for a wiretap in the terrorist probe prevented the interception of communications between a criminal suspect and a person designated as a global terrorist by the Treasury Department.

"The FBI has a leadership role on terrorism financing cases by virtue of a May 2003 memorandum of agreement (MOA) between the Homeland Security and Justice departments, not by any statute or congressional mandate," Mr. Grassley said in a letter to FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III.

"The facts established in the [Office of Inspector General] report do not instill confidence in the FBI's ability to lead under the process established by the MOA," he said, adding that it was "a clear conflict of interest" for FBI officials to edit criticisms of their actions. …

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