- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 13, 2003

A Justice Department investigation found no evidence to support accusations that the FBI systematically favored senior executives over rank-and-file agents with regard to disciplinary actions, but did document a double standard in some cases.

The department’s inspector general, Glenn A. Fine, concluded yesterday that, based on the few cases offered as examples, there was “an insufficient basis to conclude definitively” that the bureau favored senior executive service officials.

The investigation, detailed in a 39-page report, was a follow-up to a November 2002 review that examined complaints from FBI employees who said the bureau’s system of discipline was unfair because senior managers were treated more leniently than others.

The inquiry also focused on accusations made last year by FBI Agent John Roberts during an appearance on CBS’ “60 Minutes.” He said disciplinary cases were “disappearing” or “vaporizing” as part of a system in which senior managers were treated leniently.

“The OIG review did not find any instances of cases disappearing, and Roberts stated that the cases he was referring to in the broadcast related to … two cases that we previously examined in our November 2002 report,” Mr. Fine said.

But the inspector general noted evidence of double standards in some cases.

The report cited different levels of discipline for a supervisor and a field agent for crude jokes told at FBI functions. Two cases were cited in the report:

• An FBI supervisor took part in a chili cook-off at FBI headquarters attended by bureau employees and two federal judges in which he and others dressed as women in a skit parodying the Spice Girls. Although the supervisor made a lewd remark about oral sex, he was ordered only to undergo nondisciplinary counseling.

• An FBI agent, during an evidence-training class, made a joke about talk-show host Oprah Winfrey’s weight. Although only one employee in the class complained and the agent apologized, he was given a formal letter of censure.

Investigators said the supervisory agent also should have been disciplined, “especially given his leadership position in the FBI.”

Mr. Fine credited the FBI with taking concerns about a double standard seriously.

FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III, in a statement, said he appreciated and welcomed the investigation, adding he had requested the review “because it is important for the public to have full confidence in the work and integrity of the men and women of the FBI.

He said that he was gratified “that the OIG found no examples of a case ‘disappearing’ or ‘vaporizing,’” and that he had commissioned a review into the matter by former Attorney General Griffin Bell and former FBI Associate Director Lee Colwell.

“We anticipate receiving their report and recommendations in the coming weeks and are committed to ensuring that the disciplinary process within the FBI is fair, efficient and credible,” Mr. Mueller said.

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