Harvard IOP Forum | Alberta Lee: The Wen Ho Lee Story: What Happened?
Wen Ho Lee’s daughter talks about the railroading of her father by Louis Freeh’s FBI.
The 1996 Olympics in Atlanta were rocked by a bomb that killed one and injured more than 100. In the frenzy to find the perpetrator, an innocent man became a suspect.
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By Ronald Kessler
At Louis Freeh’s press conference on the espionage arrest of FBI agent Robert P. Hanssen, a reporter asked how much responsibility he accepts for the apparent fact that Hanssen evaded detection by the bureau for 15 years. “Well, the buck stops with me,” Freeh declared. “I’m accountable for it. I’m responsible.”
If failing to adopt agency-wide polygraph testing were Freeh’s only lapse, he could be forgiven. But, under Freeh’s leadership, the FBI has lurched from one debacle to another. In almost every case, Freeh has been personally involved and has often contributed to the fiascoes.
Despite the fact that Freeh’s pal Larry A. Potts was immersed in controversy for mishandling the standoff at Ruby Ridge, where an FBI agent killed an unarmed woman, Freeh promoted Potts to deputy FBI director. When Eugene F. Glenn, head of the FBI’s field office in Salt Lake City, complained that the bureau’s inquiry into the Ruby Ridge case amounted to a coverup, Freeh’s general counsel, Howard M. Shapiro, responded that to raise such charges was “absolutely irresponsible and destructive to the FBI.” That was the mentality that pervaded the bureau under J. Edgar Hoover.
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Senate: Committee questions intelligence heads over how best to prevent future espionage. ‘I don’t think there’s any silver bullet,’ one senator says.
March 01, 2001|ERIC LICHTBLAU | TIMES STAFF WRITER
WASHINGTON — Congressional leaders on Wednesday demanded to know how the FBI failed to catch a suspected Russian spy in its ranks for 15 years and what steps authorities will take to prevent a recurrence of the worst spy scandal in the agency’s history.
At a three-hour closed-door briefing with the heads of the FBI, the CIA and the Justice Department, members of the Senate Intelligence Committee mulled possible spy-catching remedies that included more aggressive use of polygraph tests, financial audits and computer surveillance of FBI agents to detect suspicious activity, officials said.
Some critics wonder, however, whether the FBI director has gotten a free ride from Congress in the wake of this latest scandal.
In his eight years as director, Freeh has emerged largely unscathed despite a series of controversies that included the FBI’s handling of the Branch Davidian standoff, the Richard Jewell-Olympic bombing investigation, the Wen Ho Lee espionage investigation and now the Hanssen case. He has remained popular among Republicans in large part because he sought an outside counsel to probe campaign fund-raising abuses during the Clinton administration.
Author Ronald Kessler, who wrote a critical column this week about the Hanssen case in the Washington Post under the headline “Fire Freeh,” said in an interview that he believes the FBI director has learned how to control his media image to his advantage. But he said that “when people begin to tie together” the Hanssen case and some of Freeh’s past failings, “I think they’ll start thinking differently about his situation.”
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