Lawmaker Blasts Leadership in FBI: Chabot Cites Waco, Ruby Ridge, Lab
Seper, Jerry, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)
FBI Director Louis J. Freeh heard a new round of criticism yesterday from lawmakers, this time members of a House subcommittee who questioned several "serious scandals" they said had tainted the country's pre-eminent law enforcement agency over the past few years.
"I'm deeply concerned about the serious scandals that have rocked the FBI in recent years," said Rep. Steve Chabot, Ohio Republican and a member of the House Judiciary subcommittee on crime. "Waco, Ruby Ridge, Filegate, the handling of the Richard Jewell case, the Billy Dale case, problems in the FBI crime lab - the list goes on and on - have done, I believe, irreparable harm to the American people's confidence in the FBI.
"Clearly, the FBI leadership has . . . done a disservice to their agents in the field and to the American people," he said.
Mr. Chabot's comments came during a subcommittee oversight hearing at which Mr. Freeh was called to testify. On Wednesday, he heard similar concerns from members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, although his reception by the senators was less harsh than the verbal assault he received yesterday.
Mr. Freeh told panel members he took their concerns "seriously" but said it is important that "we do not lose sight of the fact that we are the premier law enforcement agency in the world." He said that while there are problems within the FBI, "we also want to take note of the many positive successes."
"We are potentially the most dangerous agency in the country if we are not scrutinized carefully," he said. "We do take very, very seriously, and I take personally with the most extreme seriousness, any controversy, any issue regarding our effectiveness, certainly our competency, most importantly, our integrity or our honesty."
Several subcommittee members questioned the FBI's leadership, saying they were concerned that problems inside the bureau had eroded the public's confidence and support.
Rep. Robert Wexler, Florida Democrat, noted that "up until two weeks ago," he counted himself as "one of those people who had an unbridled degree of confidence in the FBI" and as a person who viewed with skepticism those who challenged the bureau's operation. …