BusinessWeek Sept 2000: The Case against Louis Freeh

By Howard Gleckman

The FBI director has bungled one job after another, from Waco to Wen Ho Lee, while his office leaks memos and misleads investigators

Freeh should resign. And if he doesn’t, he should be fired.

The man has overseen a bureau that has bungled investigations of high-profile criminal cases and repeatedly misled probers and judges in legal proceedings — never more shamelessly than in the matter of Los Alamos scientist Wen Ho Lee. At the same time, Freeh’s FBI has tried to run roughshod over the civil liberties of ordinary citizens, demanding access to encryption codes and elbowing its way onto every PC in the country through its Carnivore project. On top of it all, Freeh has been openly insubordinate to his boss, Attorney General Janet Reno.

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New York Times September 1995 : THE 104TH CONGRESS: RUBY RIDGE HEARING; F.B.I. Leader At Idaho Siege Says Inquiry Was Tainted

Four F.B.I. agents invoked their Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination today, refusing to testify before a Senate panel about a deadly 1992 standoff in Idaho after the field commander of the operation testified that the bureau’s investigation of the incident amounted to a cover-up.

The commander, Special Agent Eugene F. Glenn, testified that he had been made a scapegoat for the events at Ruby Ridge, Idaho, where the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s special Hostage Rescue Team had been dispatched to arrest Randy Weaver, a white separatist wanted on a weapons charge.

Mr. Glenn’s version of events starkly contradicted statements given under oath to investigators by Larry Potts, who as a senior bureau official supervised the Ruby Ridge operation from Washington.

Mr. Glenn said he believed he had been harshly disciplined by bureau Director Louis J. Freeh to prevent investigators from moving on to higher level officials, especially Mr. Potts, a longtime friend of the director.

Instead of searching for facts in an internal F.B.I. inquiry last year, Mr. Glenn said, the bureau “twisted” its investigative machinery to answer one question: “Who do we blame?”

Mr. Glenn’s accusations and the spectacle of bureau agents refusing to testify made the session a striking embarrassment to the F.B.I. on a subject that has provoked the deepest crisis during Mr. Freeh’s leadership. The events of Ruby Ridge have come to symbolize to both conservatives and liberals the excesses of Federal law enforcement.

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November 15, 2002: A Review of Allegations of a Double Standard of Discipline at the FBI

The Potts[see note] retirement party is widely believed within and outside the FBI to be an egregious example of senior managers being excused or lightly disciplined for misconduct that would have resulted in severe sanctions if less senior employees had been involved. We interviewed numerous FBI employees, including members of the SES, who believed that the disciplinary decisions stemming from this case were fundamentally flawed. We agree. This chapter examines that case and provides our assessment of it.

    1. Background

When Deputy Director Larry Potts retired from the FBI in 1997, a dinner was held in his honor in Arlington, Virginia, on October 9, 1997. The Assistant Director of the FBI’s Training Division, Joseph Wolfinger, was responsible for coordinating the retirement dinner.

On October 2, 1997, seven days before the dinner, Wolfinger directed Training Division Section Chief John Louden to send an electronic communication (EC) to the field announcing an SAC conference at the FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia, to discuss “New Agent Curriculum and Training” on October 10, 1997, the day after the dinner. The announcement did not contain a conference schedule, a starting or concluding time, a training identification number, or travel instructions. The conference was scheduled for a Friday, normally a travel day for FBI employees following the conclusion of conferences.

The Potts retirement dinner was attended by approximately 140 people, including many SACs. The following day the conference was held at the FBI Academy. Only five people attended – Wolfinger, Louden, two SACs, and an individual who was not an SAC. The FBI Supervisory Special Agent (SSA) who was in charge of the presentation was informed about the event on October 7. There was no formal agenda for the conference. The SSA reported that he discussed the “integrated case” – a fictional investigation for training purposes – which was to be a part of the new agents’ training. The “conference” lasted no longer than 90 minutes and possibly as little as 45 minutes.

It was alleged that the conference was scheduled for October 10 to provide justification for the FBI to pay for the travel of SACs to attend the Potts retirement dinner. Under FBI policy, which was unwritten at the time but which we understand was commonly known, travel to a retirement function was considered personal business and not reimbursable by the government. It was further alleged that seven SACs falsified travel vouchers in order to receive reimbursement for travel to the dinner. OPR and the Department of Justice Office of Professional Responsibility (DOJ OPR) jointly investigated the matter. While the investigation was ongoing, four SACs who were subjects of the investigation retired. After the investigation, OPR referred the actions of four other SACs, Wolfinger, and Louden to the SES Board for disciplinary action.

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Note: Refers to Larry Potts, a close ally of Louis Freeh according to Marie Brenner. See: Vanity Fair February 1997: The Ballad of Richard Jewell

New Republic March 2012: Rick Santorum’s Virginia Church and Opus Dei


Rick Santorum’s Catholic faith is an obvious centerpiece of his campaign for the GOP presidential nomination, and it is rare for him to speak without referencing his religious beliefs. It is also rare, however, to hear him speak about his particular church, St. Catherine of Siena, which he and his family have belonged to for at least a decade. Even his 2005 manifesto on his personal faith and politics, It Takes a Family, did not mention the church. I was curious to learn more about it, so last Friday morning, I attended a 9 a.m. Mass there.

St. Catherine is a modern, low-slung brick building that sits in the affluent and hilly Washington suburb of Great Falls, Virginia. It is a notably conservative congregation—its neat grounds include a “garden for the unborn,” and the schedule offers a Latin Mass each Sunday featuring Gregorian chant sung by a professional choir.

The church claims 3,400 parishioners. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia and his wife attend Mass there; at one time or another, so have Redskins quarterbacks, the head of the National Rifle Association, and former FBI director Louis Freeh. (Members of the Branch Davidians once blocked the parking lot with a protest targeted at Freeh after the Waco raid, someone familiar with St. Catherine told me.) The church also suffered brief notoriety eleven years ago when FBI agent Robert Hanssen—then a member of the congregation—was arrested for selling intelligence to Russia. Mostly, the church is home to families with school-aged children—“big families, seven-, eight- or nine-children families,” as one parishioner told me. (None of the half-a-dozen parishioners I interviewed would agree to be quoted by name, and the parish office declined interview requests.) Bishop Anton Justs of Jelgava, Latvia, who oversaw the creation of St. Catherine in 1981 as a reverend in Arlington, wrote in an email that its wealthy congregants are known for generosity. “The Catholic Church Community in Great Falls is very dedicated, intellectual and keeps strongly to Christian values … The people of the parish have been very generous in terms of contributions to the church and humanitarian aid abroad. It has been over 20 years since I left St. Catherine, but people write to me, and at Christmas time enclose a check.”

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Harvard Crimson April 2003: Opening the doors of Opus Dei


The organization had attracted the attention of the press when one of its members, former Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agent Robert Hanssen, was charged with trading American security secrets to Russian spies in exchange for at least $600,000 in cash and diamonds.

The June 16 story reported that Hanssen’s wife told investigators that her husband confessed his crime to his priest. That priest was Bucciarelli who, according to Hanssen’s wife, eventually advised Hanssen not to turn himself into authorities but instead to give the dirty money to charity.

In the press wave that followed, Opus Dei was introduced, to those Americans who were listening, in increasingly critical language. U.S. News and World Report wrote about an “ultraconservative Opus Dei faction of the Roman Catholic Church,” and, a year later when Escriva was canonized, Newsweek called Opus Dei a “shadowy church within the church.”

Hutchninson argues that Opus Dei’s political contacts “blossomed” in the United States during the Reagan years when the Work “placed its agents inside the White House and recruited among the middle ranks of the Pentagon.”

Today, former FBI Director Louis Freeh is known to be close to Opus Dei. According to Bucciarelli, Freeh’s children attend Opus Dei schools and Freeh knows Opus Dei members. Bucciarelli also says that Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia knows members of the Work, and Scalia’s wife is reported to be an Opus Dei member.

But Bucciarelli and others firmly deny that the religious group is in any way political. “No goal of Opus Dei is political,” Bucciarelli says. “Opus Dei has nothing to do with personal political ideology.”

So when the Hanssen ordeal thrust his personal role as a spiritual leader into the public eye, it made sense that Bucciarelli would keep a low proifle. As talking heads debated whether clerical law should protect a Catholic priest from being interviewed by the FBI, Bucciarelli took refuge at Elmbrook, an Opus Dei center in Cambridge, where only one journalist dared seek him out (a pesky New York Times reporter whom Bucciarelli calls “courteous” despite his “uncalled-for” intrusion).

Today, the Opus Dei priest gives the same response to questions about the Hanssen matter that he gave to the press in 2001: as a priest respecting the confidentiality of his conversations, he has no comment.

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Grantland January 2014: ‘Judging Jewell’

On Saturday, July 27, 1996, a terrorist’s bomb exploded in Centennial Olympic Park at the Atlanta Summer Games, killing two and injuring 111. The toll would have been far higher if not for security guard Richard Jewell, who discovered the bag holding the bomb and helped clear the area. Yet within hours, praise of his heroism turned to vicious accusations. Jewell would be hounded for months by investigations and the media. Eventually, the FBI would capture and convict Eric Robert Rudolph for the crime. Judging Jewell revisits the scene in Atlanta where Richard Jewell, a man simply doing his job, lost the one thing he valued most — his honor.

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