- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 16, 2005

Former FBI Director Louis Freeh yesterday said he had “better things to do” than investigate President Clinton, who he says brought disgrace to the office and mishandled the U.S. response to terrorism.

The president disliked the investigative agency and Mr. Freeh because he felt the FBI had a “personal animus against him because they were always investigating him,” the former director-turned-author said yesterday on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

“Well, you know what? We were always investigating him because there were always Bill Clinton allegations. And independent counsels were investigating him. Ultimately, the Congress of the United States was investigating him,” Mr. Freeh said.

“I didn’t have any animus toward him. I have great respect for him, anybody that holds that office. I think, you know, he turned the office into a personal disgrace. That was his own business. But that didn’t have anything to do with what I was doing as the FBI director,” Mr. Freeh said.

“He didn’t get it that this wasn’t personal, that the FBI director has a responsibility of conducting those investigations. The fact that he didn’t like it, I understand it. I wouldn’t like being investigated by the FBI for seven years, either. But the fact of the matter is, we didn’t come up with the allegations. We didn’t look for things to do. We had a lot of serious work we’d like to do, besides the nonsense that preoccupied us with the president,” Mr. Freeh said.

Mr. Freeh is promoting his new book, “My FBI: Bringing Down the Mafia, Investigating Bill Clinton and Waging War on Terror,” which includes charges that Mr. Clinton declined to press Saudi Arabia to cooperate with the FBI’s investigation into the terrorist bombing of the Khobar Towers, which killed 19 U.S. service members and wounded 370.

Instead, Mr. Freeh writes, Mr. Clinton asked Crown Prince Abdullah in 1998 for financial donations to his presidential library, a charge other former administration officials deny.

Former White House counsel Lanny Davis called that charge “malicious” and “terrible.”

“I disparage any man, who, as FBI director, has a personal pique rather than doing his job. That’s disparaging,” Mr. Davis said yesterday on CNN’s “Reliable Sources.”

Mr. Freeh said that neither Mr. Clinton nor his national security adviser, Samuel R. Berger, showed any interest in the case, and accused both men of compromising the investigation.

“Talk about ineptness and compromising an investigation … the president of the United States writes a letter to the Iranian president in 1999, a letter that says, we think you may be involved in the murder of our 19 Americans at Khobar. Please help us or you won’t get better trade assistance or foreign relations,” Mr. Freeh said.

Mr. Freeh said neither he nor then-Attorney General Janet Reno was told about the letter and that “to make matters worse and to show the ineptness,” the letter was misdelivered to a spiritual leader “who went berserk” and compromised the Saudi government as the informant.

“It would be the equivalent of the attorney general writing [Mafia don] John Gotti a letter and saying, ‘Mr. Gotti, we know a couple of your capos are involved in major racketeering cases. Could you please cooperate with us?’” Mr. Freeh said.

Mr. Berger was sentenced to 100 hours of community service and fined $50,000 for stuffing into his clothing presidential documents from the National Archives that would have been part of the September 11 commission probe of terrorism preparedness.

In a statement issued last week, Mr. Berger said the president “did not raise in any fashion” any library donations.

“The president strongly raised the need for Saudi officials to cooperate with us on the investigation into the attack on Khobar Towers at the time when the FBI was attempting to gain access to the suspects,” Mr. Berger said.

Mr. Freeh also had strong words for the September 11 commission, which criticized his administration of the FBI for failing to shift significant resources to counterterrorism.

The commission declined to include in its findings reports from at least two Defense Department officials that an intelligence project labeled “Able Danger” had pinpointed Mohamed Atta as an active al Qaeda operative in the U.S.

“That’s the kind of tactical intelligence that would make a difference in stopping a hijacking,” Mr. Freeh said.

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