- The Washington Times - Monday, June 25, 2001

Two senators have introduced bipartisan legislation to create a separate, fully independent inspector general to oversee the FBI in a move they said will "increase accountability" for the nations top federal law enforcement agency.
Sens. Richard J. Durbin, Illinois Democrat, and Arlen Specter, Pennsylvania Republican, both members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said there is "no reason" the FBI should not have the "same level of scrutiny" now available to 57 other federal agencies.
"The lack of accountability at the FBI has reached a level of national concern," Mr. Durbin said. "Its time for the nations top law enforcement agency to be held to the same level of professionalism as every other agency of government."
The senators said that while the Justice Department has its own Office of Inspector General, it lacks authority without permission from the attorney general to investigate accusations of FBI misconduct. They said that under their proposed legislation, an independent inspector general for the FBI would report directly to the attorney general.
Currently, they said, the Justice Departments Office of Inspector General has several agencies under its purview and there is no requirement that it report any of the FBIs own internal inspection service findings and activities in its semi-annual report to Congress. Additionally, the FBIs own inspection division is often staffed by individuals on temporary assignment, they said.
"There is no reason the FBI should be protected from the same level of professional scrutiny the Central Intelligence Agency and virtually every other agency faces," Mr. Durbin said.
The FBI has come under fire in the past several months in the wake of a series of missteps, including a failure to turn over 4,000 pages of documents in the Timothy McVeigh case as required by a court order. It also saw one of its own, Robert P. Hanssen, a 27-year agent, arrested on espionage charges, and had to acknowledge he worked in the bureaus counterintelligence division during the 15-year period he is accused of stealing U.S. secrets.
The FBI also was criticized for its handling of the investigation of former Los Alamos scientist Wen Ho Lee, who initially was identified as a spying suspect but eventually pleaded guilty to one of 59 counts charged in a December 1998 indictment in a plea agreement with the Justice Department. Last week, the FBI arrested one of its own security specialists on charges of selling classified files to organized crime figures and others under investigation.
Three separate investigations of the FBI are under way: one by a Justice Department management team headed by Deputy Attorney General Larry Thompson, another by the departments Office of Inspector General and a third by former FBI and CIA Director William Webster.
The FBIs problems have also drawn the attention of Congress, which has called for numerous investigations and reforms.

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide