Tags: Congress | Plans | Probe | FBI's | Mistakes | McVeigh

Congress Plans Probe of FBI's Mistakes on McVeigh

Monday, 14 May 2001 12:00 AM

Lawmakers have criticized the FBI for failing to turn over 3,100 pages of notes and information to McVeigh's defense team. That mistake forced U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft to delay McVeigh's execution scheduled for Wednesday until June 11.

Although the Justice Department will conduct an internal investigation into how the mistake happened, Congress plans to explore the matter itself. The House Judiciary Committee, led by Chairman James Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., plans to hold a hearing after the Justice Department has had a chance to investigate the matter itself.

"I agree with Attorney General Ashcroft's decision to postpone the execution of Mr. McVeigh and direct the Department of Justice inspector general to review this matter," Sensenbrenner said.

"The House Judiciary Committee will hold oversight hearings concerning the FBI's inability to comply with basic legal procedures. I expect our hearings to occur following the IG's prompt investigation."

A spokesman for the Senate Judiciary Committee said that no decision had been made on whether to hold hearings on the issue, but one member, New York Democrat Charles Schumer, advocated such hearings in television interviews Sunday.

One part of the House investigation will certainly focus on a letter sent April 25 by four members of the Judiciary Committee to FBI Director Louis Freeh that inquired about information technology at the bureau and reports that it was badly outdated.

Signed by Sensenbrenner, Ranking Minority Member Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, and Rep. Robert Scott, D-Va., the letter asks for updates on the ongoing effort by the FBI to update its technology.

Sensenbrenner referenced the letter in his statement.

"Because of concern about the FBI's antiquated computer systems, three senior members of the House Judiciary Committee joined me on April 25, 2001, in writing Director Freeh about the bureau's information technology problems," he said. "In that letter, we wrote, 'The committee is concerned that the FBI has information technology systems that are slow, unreliable, and obsolete - systems that are unable to address the bureau's critical needs.'"

The chairman wants a range of explanations from the agency, including when the FBI originally noticed the problem.

"I expect the [inspector general] investigation to determine why the documents were never produced, who was responsible for their production, and when the FBI discovered that documents were not produced," he said. "The IG should also investigate when the Department of Justice learned about this problem and who was notified."

Copyright 2001 by United Press International.

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Lawmakers have criticized the FBI for failing to turn over 3,100 pages of notes and information to McVeigh's defense team. That mistake forced U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft to delay McVeigh's execution scheduled for Wednesday until June 11. Although the Justice...
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2001-00-14
Monday, 14 May 2001 12:00 AM
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