Tags: Freeh | Takes | Blame | for | McVeigh | Evidence | Mess

Freeh Takes Blame for McVeigh Evidence Mess

Wednesday, 16 May 2001 12:00 AM

Freeh expressed regret that the failure overshadows the work by investigators in solving the 1995 bombing of a federal office building in which 168 people were killed.

McVeigh's execution had been scheduled for Wednesday morning, but last week was postponed until at least June 11 after the FBI disclosed that it failed to turn over thousands of pages of evidence to McVeigh's lawyers. McVeigh has yet to decide whether he will seek a new trial. Freeh said the evidence was not exculpatory and apologized for any trauma the delay might have caused the families of the victims.

"Nevertheless, and regardless of how extraneous these documents may be, if they were covered by the diversity - by the discovery agreement, they should have been located and released during discovery," he said. "As director, I'm accountable and responsible for that failure, and I accept that responsibility.

"I regret the most that these events risk diminishing the enormity of their sacrifices and the superb quality of their service to the American people. I also regret the pain that this has caused the victims and family members who lost their loved ones."

The hearing of the House Appropriations Committee subcommittee was convened to discuss the FBI budget, but a slew of high-profile scandals, embarrassments and mistakes led members to openly question Freeh's leadership. Freeh has announced plans to leave the FBI next month, two years before his 10-year term as director was to end.

Rep. David Obey, D-Wis., did not mince words in listing recent failures by the law-enforcement agency: "We have the recent revelations that your agency apparently allowed one individual to sit in prison for over 30 years when the agency knew he had not committed the murder that he was being held for. We see that the FBI apparently held tape, withheld tapes for almost 40 years with the - that were related to the Birmingham bombings."

Obey's first reference was to the 30-year imprisonment of Joe Salvati for a 1965 slaying that the FBI had evidence he did not commit. The FBI is also investigating its use of informants and the conduct of its agents in the Boston field office after a confidential informant - who worked for the agency for more than 20 years - fled an arrest warrant after the FBI discovered he had committed at least 15 murders while working for the agency.

He also mentioned the wrongful arrest of Richard Jewel for the Atlanta Olympics park bombing and the botched investigation into stolen secret data at the Los Alamos nuclear laboratory.

Copyright 2001 by United Press International.

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Freeh expressed regret that the failure overshadows the work by investigators in solving the 1995 bombing of a federal office building in which 168 people were killed. McVeigh's execution had been scheduled for Wednesday morning, but last week was postponed until at least...
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2001-00-16
Wednesday, 16 May 2001 12:00 AM
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