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Gary Aldrich: Mueller's Changes Won't Fix FBI

Wednesday, 29 May 2002 12:00 AM

FBI veteran Gary Aldrich, who was a top agent assigned to the White House and wrote the best-selling book "Unlimited Access" exposing the Clintons' nightmarish mishandling of national security, says a "go along to get along” attitude has permeated the top ranks of the bureau.

"How does one go about changing an attitude which has basically permeated the management ranks of the FBI?” he asked.

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Aldrich was assigned to White House duty for several years until just before his 1996 sensation "Unlimited Access” exposed the collapse in security during the Clinton administration.

In an exclusive interview with NewsMax.com, Aldrich described "the do-nothing timidity” whereby "in order to get ahead, you have to get along.”

It’s an attitude familiar to many who have worked in the Washington bureaucracy. But this isn’t the Department of Labor or Commerce. In an agency such as the FBI, where lives are at stake, such laziness can be "dangerous,” Aldrich warned.

Over time, "it’s going to suggest a certain amount of major calamities get by you.”

The "bureaucratic” atmosphere at FBI headquarters has presented another problem, Aldrich says, that will not be fixed by the FBI director's attempt to rearrange the deck chairs on the Titanic.

Already, many of the FBI's best and brightest have left the bureau or tranferred out of Washington during the Clinton years, when they saw the country's top investigative agency turned into a political arm of the White House.

"They just don’t like it there, and they want to get out of there. So the whole mission becomes getting out of FBI headquarters and back to the field. And that becomes the mission instead of the [real] mission.”

The management problems, as Aldrich sees it, started after the death of the legendary and much-maligned J. Edgar Hoover.

At that point a "new age kind of thing” seeped into management philosophy at the bureau, a politically correct "management by consensus,” where "everybody would decide, and therefore nobody was responsible.”

Aldrich says the big problem at the FBI was the "lack of responsibility, lack of accountability.”

Recent statements by Mueller claiming that the FBI could not have prevented 9-11, and his protection of agents who failed to follow up on leads that terrorist were engaging in suspicious flight training, show that the same pattern of cover-up and obfuscation is at work.

When President Bush named Mueller last year to replace Clinton appointee Louis Freeh, NewsMax.com reported that his record indicated agility on touching all political bases.

For example, he had the wholehearted support of California's Sen. Barbara Boxer, a leftist Democrat with close ties to Sen. Hillary Clinton.

Aldrich declined to judge Mueller’s credentials or management style on that factor alone, but "it does concern me if a Democrat senator from the Left Coast is highly supportive of a new FBI director. I find that no recommendation whatsoever.”

Aldrich believes the agency needs to be depoliticized.

"These are all folks who adhere to the rule of law who believe that politics should play no part at all in the administration of the FBI, and who virtually hate the notion that the FBI could ever become politicized.”

The bottom line, as this seasoned veteran sees it: "What is the magic that Director Mueller will use to cure the attitude at FBI headquarters?”

Simply hiring new people and shifting personnel around, or changing priorities, as Mueller announced Wednesday – "You can do all of that, and yet, if you cannot change attitude within the bureaucracy … all of that will come to not much.”

Aldrich, who left the FBI almost a quarter of a century after Hoover died, saw the downhill slide inside the bureau, "a festering problem within the agency for decades,” as he puts it, an agency that took a nosedive with the election of Bill Clinton and the appointment of Louis Freeh.

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FBI veteran Gary Aldrich, who was a top agent assigned to the White House and wrote the best-selling book Unlimited Access exposing the Clintons' nightmarish mishandling of national security, says a go along to get along" attitude has permeated the top ranks of the...
Wednesday, 29 May 2002 12:00 AM
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