Friday, August 31, 2007

Richard Jewell and the FBI

Louis Freeh devotes four pages of his memoirs to the Atlanta bombing and Richard Jewell’s victimization by the FBI and MSM. His account is revealing on several levels.

First there is this:

It wasn't that I was convinced Jewell was the man. If anything, i was unconvinced, then and later. To me, he never quited seemed to fit the facts. But a search warrant isn't an accusation. It's a judicial order to acquire evidence and other information that will help decide whether to move forward toward and indeictment or to move on to other suspects and other lines of inquiry. That's where we were with Richard Jewell when the Atlanta Journal-Constitution got wind of the search warrant, added two and two and came up with five, and named Jewell as our prime suspect.
Note the passive voice and the attempt to cover up the FBI’s culpability. The paper “got wind” of the search warrant then jumped to a wrong conclusion in Freeh’s telling of the story. No mention of the FBI leaks and tips that poured into the media and drove the story onto the front pages.

Second, Freeh mentions that three supervisors were officially reprimanded for their handling of Jewell. He does not give their names. It is one thing to destroy an innocent citizen’s reputation; that is just a by-product of modern law enforcement. But the reputation of FBI agents is something to be protected even when they do something wrong.

In Freeh’s view the Bureau was the real victim in the Jewell case:

I was most galled by the fact that the controversy drew attention away from what the FBI does best: exhausting tens of thousands of hours on solvin crimes that no other agency has the training or resources or resolve or corporate culture to take on.


The tale might begin with Richard Jewell and a foolish trick in the Bureau's Atlanta office, but that's the background static, not the story itself.
If a criminal defendant offered up these sorts of lame excuses and justifications, all sorts of profilers and psychologists would weigh in and declare that he was a psychopath or sociopath. What should we call an organization that operates like this or the man who led it?

1 comment:

Firehand said...

The EffingBI. Standard procedure: shield the sacred Bureau from blame no matter what.

Look what happened in the anthrax case: it's never been solved, but they falsely accused two people, one of whom was basically driven to suicide. Ever see anyone from the Bureau publicly apologize for that? Or even privately to family or friends? Oh no, couldn't do that, that'd be admitting they screwed up!

Ever read any of the Joe Leaphorn mysteries? In one Leaphorn is thinking about a case and reflects that 'there are really only two things that will get a FBI agent in real trouble: bringing bad press- no matter how small- on the Bureau, and having an original thought.' So even when sort-of admitting they screwed up, the bureau and the very special agents have to be shielded from blame.