Burlington Free Press Aug 2014 | Silence guards Freeh condition at Dartmouth Hospital

Former FBI director Louis Freeh remained hospitalized at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center on Wednesday, two days after he crashed his SUV in southern Vermont.

Freeh, 64, of Wilmington, Del., was admitted under armed guard to the intensive care unit of the Lebanon, N.H., hospital following the 12:15 p.m crash Monday on Vermont 12 in Barnard.

The bureau put the armed protection in place due to Freeh’s past work on terrorism while serving as FBI director from 1993 to 2001, the authorities said.

The special protection was established by the FBI in cooperation with New Hampshire State Police.

The Vermont State Police initially said Freeh was seriously injured in the crash. The agency said Wednesday there is no indication Freeh’s car was tampered with. The cause of the crash remains under investigation. The police did say there is no evidence that drugs or alcohol were a factor in the wreck.

Because of the nature of the single-car crash, the state police accident reconstruction team was not called in, said Lt. William Jenkins, station commander at the Royalton barracks.

An unidentified FBI agent, believed to be off-duty, happened to be among the first people at the crash scene, police said.

FBI Headquarters in Washington, D.C. said it had nothing new to add to the one-sentence statement issued Monday evening. A spokeswoman said calls were being directed to the FBI Boston office.

Representatives of the FBI in Boston refused Wednesday to transfer phone calls to Special Agent Vincent Lisi, who supervises four New England states, or any of his five assistant special agents in charge.

Go to the story

Advertisements

DOJ OIG July 2014 | An Assessment of the 1996 Department of Justice Task Force Review of the FBI Laboratory

This is the third review by the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) since 1997 related to alleged irregularities by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Laboratory (Lab).2 The first two OIG reports focused on alleged FBI Lab deficiencies, the conduct of individuals brought to our attention by a whistleblower, and remedial actions the FBI took in response to our recommendations. This report addresses how the Criminal Division Task Force (Task Force), created by the Department in 1996 and whose mission was redefined in 1997, managed the identification, review, and follow-up of cases involving the use of scientifically unsupportable analysis and overstated testimony by FBI Lab examiners in criminal prosecutions. We analyzed the Task Force’s review of cases involving 13 FBI examiners the Task Force determined had been criticized in the 1997 OIG report. We included in our review a close examination of cases handled by 1 of the 13 examiners, Michael Malone, the Lab’s Hairs and Fibers Unit examiner whose conduct was particularly problematic.

Although the Task Force made a diligent effort to manage a complex review of thousands of cases, we found the following serious deficiencies in the Department’s and the FBI’s design, implementation, and overall management of the case review process.

First, despite some effort by the Task Force to segregate for priority treatment cases involving defendants on death row, the Department and the FBI did not take sufficient steps to ensure that the capital cases were the Task Force’s top priority. We found that it took the FBI almost 5 years to identify the 64 defendants on death row whose cases involved analyses or testimony by 1 or more of the 13 examiners. The Department did not notify state authorities that convictions of capital defendants could be affected by involvement of any of the 13 criticized examiners. Therefore, state authorities had no basis to consider delaying scheduled executions.

As a result, one defendant (Benjamin H. Boyle) was executed 4 days after the 1997 OIG report was published but before his case was identified and reviewed by the Task Force. The prosecutor deemed the Lab analysis and testimony in that case material to the defendant’s conviction. An independent scientist who later reviewed the case found the FBI Lab analysis to be scientifically unsupportable and the testimony overstated and incorrect. Two other capital defendants were executed (Michael Lockhart in 1997 and Gerald E. Stano in 1998) 2 months and 7 months, respectively, before their cases were identified for Task Force review as cases involving 1 or more of the 13 examiners. Although we found no indication in the Task Force files that the Lab analyses or examiners’ testimony were deemed material to the defendants’ convictions in these cases and, according to the FBI, the OIG-criticized examiner found no positive associations linking
Lockhart or Stano to the crimes for which they were convicted and executed, the Task Force did not learn this critical information before the executions so that appropriate steps could have been taken had the analyses or testimony been material to the convictions and unreliable.

Another capital defendant (Joseph Young) died in prison of natural causes in 1996 before the 1997 OIG report was published. However, the Task Force did not refer his case to the FBI for review by an independent scientist even though the prosecutor had deemed the FBI Lab analysis and testimony to be material to the conviction. It is not known whether the outcome of this defendant’s trial or his sentence would have been different without the examiner’s testimony, which in other cases was deemed scientifically inaccurate, exaggerated, and unreliable. In all, the Task Force referred only 8 of the 64 death penalty cases involving the criticized examiners for review by an independent scientist. We found evidence that the independent scientists’ reports were forwarded to capital defendants in only two cases. The Department should have handled all death penalty cases with greater priority and urgency.

Read the report

Washington Post July 2014 | Watchdog report faults FBI laboratory probe

WASHINGTON — The FBI and Justice Department didn’t move quickly enough to identify the cases handled by 13 FBI crime lab examiners whose work was found to be flawed, meaning defendants sometimes were never notified that their convictions may have been based on bad science, according to a government report released Wednesday.

The report from the department’s inspector general said it took the FBI nearly five years to identify the more than 60 death-row defendants whose cases involved analysis or testimony from one or more of the 13 examiners.

At least three inmates were executed before a Justice Department task force, created in 1996, had identified their cases for further review. In one of those cases, the 1997 execution of Benjamin H. Boyle in Texas, an independent scientist later determined that the FBI lab analysis was scientifically unsupportable, the report said.

BloombergBusinessweek July 2014 | Watchdog Faults Justice Department Review of FBI Lab Work

The Justice Department’s internal review of faulty FBI lab work had “serious deficiencies,” including the failure to make death penalty cases a priority, the department’s inspector general concluded.

In a 138-page report released today, the Office of the Inspector General said the Justice Department didn’t review all of the cases by a “problematic” FBI examiner whose work was known to be faulty and whose “scientifically unsupportable” testimony contributed to the conviction of an innocent defendant.

The report also found that the department failed to ensure that defendants learned their convictions may have been tainted, and it didn’t tell prosecutors it was important to swiftly alert defendants to the problems, especially in death penalty cases.

Read the entire story

PBS Frontline October 2002 | The Man Who Knew

FRONTLINE’s “The Man Who Knew,” chronicles John O’Neill’s story — a story that embraces the clash of personalities, politics and intelligence, offering important insights into both the successes and failures of America’s fight against terrorism.

Drawing on exclusive interviews with many of O’Neill’s closest friends and associates, this report opens with O’Neill’s introduction into the new world of terrorism — the capture in 1995 of one of the world’s most wanted terrorists — Ramzi Yousef, the ringleader of the group that bombed the World Trade Center in 1993.

Former U.S. Attorney Mary Jo White credits O’Neill with quickly grasping the danger Yousef and other terrorists represented to America.

“Yousef is one of the most dangerous people on the planet — also very smart,” she says. “Getting and incapacitating him was a significant public safety issue. And John O’Neill recognized that and was not about to take ‘no’ for an answer before he was taken into custody.”

O’Neill immersed himself into learning everything he could about global terrorism and Islamic fundamentalist militancy. In 1997, O’Neill was promoted to special agent in charge of the national security division in the bureau’s New York office. Observers say O’Neill grabbed at the chance to head the team that was investigating and prosecuting most major international terrorism cases. The job would also be the perfect base from which to continue his pursuit of bin Laden and Al Qaeda.

But while John O’Neill had succeeded in winning allies among CIA and international intelligence agencies, not everyone within the FBI was so enamored of him. A fixture on New York’s celebrity social circuit, O’Neill’s flamboyant style and his unconventional personal life — he had several longtime girlfriends and a wife he never divorced — had long raised eyebrows within the FBI.

“The Man Who Knew,” gives viewers an insider’s perspective on O’Neill’s investigations as well as the internal territorial debates among the FBI, the State Department, and the White House over how to deal with U.S. terrorist investigations in East Africa in August 1998 and the Yemen in October 2000.

“[O’Neill] believed the New York field office had the greatest depth of expertise of anybody in the country on this issue, and if it’s Al Qaeda, how could you send anybody else but the people who know the most?” recalls Fran Townsend, former head of the U.S. Justice Department’s office of intelligence policy.

O’Neill’s New York FBI team was at the center of bureacratic arm-wrestling over who would head the 1998 investigation into the embassy bombings in East Africa. O’Neill again was the focus of a heated political battle over the investigation of the 2000 attack against the USS Cole in Yemen. Current and former government officials such as Richard Clarke,counterterrorism chief in the Clinton administration and Barry Mawn, former head of the New York FBI office, recount how O’Neill’s desire to show the Yemeni security forces — which he viewed as being less than cooperative — that the FBI meant business was one of many issues in the investigation which angered U.S. Ambassador Barbara Bodine.

Read more and watch the episode

 

CNN December 1996 | FBI chief can’t explain media leaks in Olympic bombing

Internal investigation under way

December 19, 1996
Web posted at: 12:30 p.m. EST

WASHINGTON (CNN) — FBI Director Louis Freeh testified Thursday he does not yet know how information identifying security guard Richard Jewell as a suspect in the Centennial Olympic Park bombing last July was leaked to the news media.

In late October, Jewell was cleared by the Justice Department of any involvement in the bombing.

Saying he had “zero tolerance” for leaks, Freeh told the Senate Subcommittee on Terrorism, Technology and Government Information he was “mystified” that anyone in law enforcement would “disrespect the criminal justice process.” (30 sec. /736K AIFF orWAV sound)

At least 500 people in 11 agencies — including the FBI — knew about the investigation of Jewell, he said.

Read the story

Hollywood Reporter Feb 2014 | Leonardo DiCaprio and Jonah Hill Reteaming for Atlanta Olympics Drama

Fox has picked up the rights to the Vanity Fair article “The Ballad of Richard Jewell” for the duo to star in and produce.

After teaming up successfully — critically and financially — for The Wolf of Wall Street, Leonardo DiCaprio and Jonah Hill are partnering again. This time, they will tell the true story of Richard Jewell, the security guard who went from hero to suspect at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.

Fox has picked up the rights to the Vanity Fair article The Ballad of Richard Jewell, written by Marie Brenner, for the duo to star in.

DiCaprio will produce the adaptation with his partner Jennifer Davisson Killoran, Hill and Kevin Misher, who initially optioned the material.

Jewell was working as a security guard at the ’96 Summer Games when he discovered a backpack containing pipe bombs, subsequently sounding the alarm and helping to clear the area. However, the bomb did detonate, killing one person and injuring dozens of others.

Initially hailed as a hero, Jewell was soon the prime suspect, as the FBI searched his home twice. A media frenzy painted him as an overweight failed cop and mama’s boy, and he became the punchline for late-night jokes.

After being raked over the coals by the media, Jewell was cleared, but the damage had been done. Lawsuits followed (against NBC and CNN, among several others), and the FBI and other government agencies were forced to make public apologies.

Read the story