Talking Points: The FBI's Wall of Secrecy

Well, I was angry last Thursday when the FBI foul up story broke and I'm still angry. That's the subject of this evening's Talking Points memo.

168 Americans died in the Oklahoma City bombing, as you know, the worst mass murder in our nation's history. Think of what the families and friends of the victims are going through right now. The pain and suffering continues for them. The prosecution of Timothy McVeigh was of the highest importance for the FBI, yet 46 out of 56 FBI field offices failed to turn over all materials related to the bombing as required by law. More than 3,000 pages of documents were withheld from defense attorneys. That isn't a mistake, that is a total breakdown.

Yet the Bush administration will not chastise FBI chief Louis Freeh, who announced his resignation a few days before the bungle was made public. Once again, the powerful are protecting each other. We all know the problems the FBI has been having. But up until this point, I was willing to cut them some slack. Not anymore.

It is clear to any thinking American that this agency is in big trouble. From the arrest of FBI agent Robert Hanssen on spy charges to the failure of the agency to explain the Wen Ho Lee espionage case to the confusion and violence at Waco, the bureau is simply not doing the job.

But the worst part about the FBI is that it continues to operate in the shadows. The bureau will not tell the American people exactly what happened in the campaign finance scandal involving President Clinton and the Chinese military. The bureau will not tell us what the Chinese stole from the Los Alamos nuclear facility. The FBI is keeping secret the reason why Agent Hanssen was not caught earlier. And the bureau cannot or will not explain the McVeigh debacle.

The American people are paying the FBI to protect them. We are entitled to answers about important cases. Those answers have not been forthcoming. Director Freeh should be sitting in front of the press right now explaining his dismal performance. Some of his supporters are trying to blame the situation on the former Attorney General Janet Reno, but that is bogus. Ms. Reno is an incompetent bureaucrat who cannot investigate herself out of a paper bag. Mr. Freeh is supposed to be a pro and he is supposed to be accountable to the American people.

If the most important criminal prosecution in U.S. history is botched by the FBI, what does it say about federal law enforcement in general? Talking Points believes it says that a huge overhaul is needed and that the wall of secrecy protecting the FBI should be torn down.

And that's the memo.

Most Ridiculous Item of the Day

It is prom season, and the latest party wrinkle is signed waivers.

That's right. Some parents are so worried about getting sued for what happens during a party after the prom in their house that along with the invitations to the party, they're sending out legal documents that other parents must sign if they want their kids to go. And those documents say they won't sue.

The kids must bring the signed waiver in order to get into the party.

How nice. How American. How ridiculous. You can't even go to the prom any more without an attorney.

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