by Michael Crowley
During his tenure as FBI director, Louis J. Freeh struggled to raise a family of eight on a government salary. By the time he stepped down in 2001, his house was heavily mortgaged and he could be seen flying in coach class. Since leaving the Bureau, however, Freeh has earned a handsome salary. He first spent several years as a top lawyer for the credit-card giant mbna before opening his own firm in 2007, Freeh Group International, which bills itself as “a global consulting enterprise,” specializing in advising a “select” group of (mostly undisclosed) clients on the niceties of international accounting and anti-corruption laws.
In the grand scheme of post-government careers, this might not seem so extraordinary were it not for one remarkable member of Freeh’s “select” clients: Prince Bandar bin Sultan, the former Saudi Arabian ambassador to the United States. Currently accused of illegally siphoning as much as $2 billion from a Saudi-British arms deal, Bandar has hired Freeh as his lawyer.
One also wonders what Freeh may have been thinking privately at the time. He is, after all, hardly the first senior U.S. official to wind up on the Saudi dole after leaving government. It has become shamefully routine for former U.S. ambassadors to Saudi Arabia to land on the kingdom’s payroll. “If the reputation … builds that the Saudis take care of friends when they leave office, you’d be surprised how much better friends you have who are just coming into office,” Bandar once quipped, according to The Washington Post.