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FBI Chief Had 4-Year Silent Feud with Bill

Monday, 07 May 2001 12:00 AM

There were numerous sources of tension between the White House and the bureau - including the FBI's funny-money probe into contributions to the presidential campaign.

But the one that may have mattered most to Freeh stemmed from disagreements over the investigation of the 1996 terrorist bombing of a U.S. military barracks in Saudi Arabia, which killed 19 and left 500 injured.

The New Yorker magazine reported today that Freeh didn't trust the Clinton administration's commitment to pursue the case - and he waited until George W. Bush took office to give a full report to the White House detailing allegations that the bombing was plotted by Iranian government officials.

The magazine said Freeh believed Clinton and his advisers weren't supporting him in seeking the full cooperation of Saudi authorities.

As tensions increased between Freeh and the White House, the FBI head and Clinton went four years without speaking to one another, the magazine reported - although Freeh spoke with top Clinton aides.

The presidential silent treatment ended last year shortly after the terror bombing of the USS Cole in Yemen.

Freeh, who will leave his post in June, believed Clinton put the barracks-bombing probe on the back burner in hopes of seeking a diplomatic breakthrough with moderate elements in Iran.

At one point, Freeh secretly enlisted former President George Bush to seek cooperation from the Saudis, the magazine said.

Finally, FBI agents got access to witnesses and evidence alleging Iranian Gen. Ahmad Sherifi ordered the bombing, possibly at the behest of the nation's leader at the time, Ayatollah Ali Khameini.

The Bush administration could decide within the next two months whether it will seek indictments in the case, The New Yorker said.

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There were numerous sources of tension between the White House and the bureau - including the FBI's funny-money probe into contributions to the presidential campaign. But the one that may have mattered most to Freeh stemmed from disagreements over the investigation of...
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2001-00-07
Monday, 07 May 2001 12:00 AM
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