- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 8, 2002

There is something very wrong inside the Justice Department of the United States, and there has been for some time. Various newspapers are now reporting that under President Clinton, the Federal Bureau of Investigation was ordered to stand down on various terrorist investigations.

One of the most egregious examples is the failure of the bureau to investigate fund-raising organizations like "The Holy Land Fund," based in Arizona, which allegedly funneled millions of dollars in donations to Middle Eastern terrorists. Although the Bush administration has now frozen the assets of the fund, it was apparently allowed to operate for eight years, despite the FBI intelligence that was presented to Mr. Clinton and then-Attorney General Janet Reno. One bureau source told the press that Miss Reno felt any investigation of "The Holy Land Fund" would lead to anti-Arab sentiment and therefore was opposed to such an investigation.

As always, Miss Reno will not comment on any aspect of her tenure as attorney general that is at all controversial.

There is no question now that, under Miss Reno and then-FBI Director Louis Freeh, Americans were put at great risk. The Wen Ho Lee-Chinese espionage case still has not been explained, and the fact that the 19 terrorists in the September 11 attacks weren't even on the FBI's radar screen is about as frightening as Janet Reno's passion for political correctness.

The current attorney general, John Ashcroft, has made no attempt to examine Miss Reno's bizarre behavior, update the public about the Marc Rich investigation or anything else. Mr. Ashcroft specializes in looking dour and stonewalling. While Congress is attempting to get documents about President Clinton's dubious foreign fund raising and FBI abuses in Boston, Mr. Ashcroft is refusing to cooperate at all.

And this isn't a political issue. Conservative Rep. Dan Burton, Indiana Republican, and liberal Rep. Barney Frank, Massachusetts Democrat, have actually joined forces to try and pry this information from Mr. Ashcroft's hands. If that's not amazing, then nothing is.

The truth is that for nearly eight years, the Justice Department has been corrupt and inefficient. Janet Reno botched nearly every important decision she had to make, including Waco and Elian Gonzalez. Time after time, Miss Reno refused to approve investigative initiatives sought by the FBI. And time after time, Mr. Freeh sat in his plush government office refusing to let the American people know what was happening.

Now Mr. Ashcroft is doing the same thing. There is no reason on this Earth why the public should not know the status of the Rich pardon probe. Or the anthrax investigation. And what about Enron, Mr. Attorney General, are you going to look into that? Millions of Americans were taken for a ride while some Enron executives made millions.

How about a comment on that, Mr. Ashcroft?

For far too long the attorney general and his band of political appointees have held themselves above public accountability. How many times have we heard the phrase: "We're not allowed to comment, the case is under investigation"?

That, of course, is one big lie. The attorney general can legally comment on anything but grand jury testimony.

Janet Reno hightailed it out of Washington without clearing up a single controversy. Now she rides around in her truck asking the people of Florida to elect her governor. Hey, good choice, if you love fascism. Miss Reno is the kind of public servant who makes decisions and feels no need to explain them. The Third Reich would have loved her.

The tragedy of the Justice Department is our fault. We Americans simply will not pay attention to the corruption of this very important part of our government even after September 11. We allow the stonewalling, the political correctness and the incompetence.

And it's just a matter of time before we pay the price for our apathy again.

Bill O'Reilly is a nationally syndicated columnist.

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