- The Washington Times - Friday, July 27, 2001

A leading Senate Republican yesterday said an internal report showing that senior FBI managers traveled to Washington at government expense to attend a retirement party is part of a "culture of arrogance" at the bureau that needs to be corrected.
Sen. Charles E. Grassley cited a report sent to the Senate Judiciary Committee last week saying senior managers lied to obtain improper travel reimbursements to attend a party for former FBI Deputy Director Larry A. Potts, but none was disciplined other than to receive a letters of censure.
The Iowa Republican, a member of the panel that begins confirmation hearings Monday for a new FBI director, has been a frequent critic of what he has described as "institutional arrogance" within the FBI in the way it deals with its own employees.
In recent weeks, he has focused on what he has called a "double standard" of discipline between the FBI's senior managers and rank-and-file agents, saying the bureau's management system is "broken." He is expected to ask FBI Director-designate Robert S. Mueller III during the hearings about how he intends to improve the embattled agency.
"This story shows the clash of cultures between the culture of arrogance that pervades FBI management and the culture of ethics that's taught to new FBI recruits," he said in a statement.
"We need FBI leadership that gets back to practicing what it preaches at the FBI training facility in Quantico."
The Washington Times reported yesterday that senior FBI managers traveled to Washington in October 1997 to attend the Potts party and, according to an investigation by the bureau's Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR), did so under the pretext of attending a conference at the FBI's training academy in Quantico, Va.
More than 140 people, including as many as a dozen executives and special-agents-in-charge of bureau field offices, attended the Oct. 9, 1997, party in Arlington, while only five persons showed up for the Oct. 10, 1997, conference in Quantico.
The conference, which lasted about 90 minutes including lunch, had been put together six days before the Potts party — specifically for special-agents-in-charge of various FBI field offices to discuss new agent curriculum and training. Only two of them showed up.
The sessions included one on "Integrity in Law Enforcement" and another on "The Ethical Golden Thread."
OPR investigators concluded the conference was a sham used to justify travel reimbursements for the senior FBI managers. They found that senior managers filed false vouchers, misused government property, and lacked candor or lied under oath during an investigation of the party and the conference.
Similar conduct by the FBI's rank-and-file agents would have led to their firing.
The investigation of the Potts retirement party was the impetus behind a 2000 decision by former FBI Director Louis J. Freeh to change the bureau's disciplinary procedures so that punishment for misconduct by senior FBI managers would be the same as that handed out to other bureau employees, including rank-and-file agents.
FBI spokesman John Collingwood has called the probe of the retirement party the "exact issue" that caused Mr. Freeh to ultimately change the FBI's disciplinary procedures.
"There is an expectation that all FBI employees will be held to a very high standard commensurate with our responsibilities," Mr. Collingwood said. "Senior executives must expect to be held to an even higher standard, simply because of their position of leadership."

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