FBI's Freeh Opposed Pardons, But Nets Don't Care; Beatty Better Than Reagan
1) Peter Jennings and Dan
Rather delivered nearly identically worded items on Clinton's veto of
the tax cut.
2) In unprecedented testimony,
FBI agents said the Justice Dept. thwarted their probe of Charlie Trie,
but not a word about it on ABC, CBS, MSNBC, NBC or CNN. Only FNC's
Special Report with Brit Hume cared. Skipped too by the Washington Post
and New York Times.
FBI vigorously opposed the FALN pardons and warned it would return
"hardened terrorists" to society. MSNBC ran a story and GMA gave it 17
seconds, but not a syllable on ABC, CBS, CNN or NBC.
4) Warren Beatty would "be
better" as President than was Ronald Reagan, Barbra Streisand told
Today. She also maintained that "history will say that" Bill Clinton
"has been a great President."
night, September 23, ABC and NBC led with the lost Mars explorer, CBS
began with another death sentence in the Texas dragging death, CNN opened
with Clinton's veto of the tax cut while FNC led with rescue efforts in
Other than CNN, only NBC
dedicated a full story to Clinton's veto of what Tom Brokaw called,
"That big tax cut passed by Republican majorities in Congress." The
short items announced by the ABC and CBS anchors were almost identical:
-- Peter Jennings
on ABC's World News Tonight: "The President vetoed the Republicans'
$800 billion tax cut bill as he promised he would. He says it is too big
and would undermine efforts to shore up Social Security and Medicare.
Republicans say the President stole a tax cut from working Americans."
-- Dan Rather on
the CBS Evening News: "As he said he would, President Clinton today
vetoed the Republicans' $800 billion tax cut plan. The President favors
more modest cuts and keeping more money to shore up Medicare and Social
Security. Republicans say the President quote 'has stolen this tax cut
from working American families,' unquote."
FBI agents testified before the Senate Government Affairs Committee on
Wednesday, September 22, as to how the Justice Department subverted their
probe of Democratic campaign fundraising, specifically in the case of
Charlie Trie. But of all the networks only FNC found it newsworthy. Not a
syllable about it Wednesday night or Thursday morning on ABC, CBS, NBC as
well as PBS. MSNBC's The News with Brian Williams skipped it too as did
CNN's The World Today and Inside Politics. But, it should also be noted
that while FNC's Washington-based Special Report with Brit Hume aired a
full story from Carl Cameron, the New York boys did not play his piece on
the 7pm ET Fox Report.
On the newspaper
side of things, while the Washington Times bannered the news across the
top of the September 23 front page, "FBI Agents Say Justice Blocked
Probe," the New York Times and Washington Post ignored the charges. USA
Today gave the testimony a few paragraphs at the top of its Washington
column of news items.
Instead of picking
up on the charge of major political corruption of the Justice Department,
on September 22 ABC relayed White House outrage over a GAO report on the
cost of presidential travel. Peter Jennings noted: "At the White House
today the President's spokesman called Republicans 'ignorant'
because they criticized the amount of money spent on Mr. Clinton's
travel. Congressional auditors reported yesterday that it cost $72 million
for three trips the President took last year, including $42 million on one
trip to visit six nations in Africa."
ABC also featured
a story on how condors are a nuisance in a California community and claims
of safety problems with the Alaska pipeline while NBC devoted a full
report to a fire on a Carnival cruise ship.
CNN and NBC viewers never learned what FNC's Carl Cameron relayed on the
September 22 Special Report with Brit Hume. He began:
"In rare public testimony, four career FBI agents
told Congress that the Justice Department's brass repeatedly thwarted
their campaign finance investigation of President Clinton's long-time
friend and fundraiser Charlie Trie."
Kevin Sheridan, FBI Special Agent: "I was kind of
surprised at the time that we were experiencing some resistance."
Cameron: "One agent said he was specifically told
that Justice would not investigate illegal foreign contributions at the
White House or in the President's presence."
Daniel Wehr, FBI Special Agent: "The reason given to
me was that that's the way the American political process works, and I was
scandalized by that."
Cameron: "Another agent complained to FBI Director Louis
Freeh in writing that among Justice officials, quote, 'The impression
left is the emphasis is on how not to prosecute matters.' Republicans
Senator Pete Domenici (R-NM): "It reeks with
Senator Fred Thompson (R-TN): "I do not eliminate the
possibility of obstruction of justice within the Justice Department."
Cameron: "Democrats suggested that instead of a
cover-up to protect the President, the problem is Justice Department
Senator Joseph Lieberman (D-CT): "First, it's hard
to come away from this story, even just reading the interview summaries,
without a sense of dismay."
Cameron: "Some of the dismay stems from incidents at
Charlie Trie's house in 1997. Despite FBI surveillance of evidence being
destroyed, as Fox News first reported this spring, the Justice Department
refused to approve search warrants."
Ivian C. Smith, former FBI Special Agent in Charge:
"But I was actually quite astounded at the type of documents that were
Roberta Parker, FBI Special Agent: "We continued to
see that there was evidence that was going out in the trash."
Cameron: "Justice officials admitted that their
amount of supervision of the FBI was unprecedented, but denied that
politics shaded their judgment or their case."
Lee Radek, Department of Justice: "I have never, ever
made a prosecutive or investigative decision based on partisan political
Cameron: "Some of the evidence that was retrieved
from Trie's garbage, sources say, indicated that the White House was in
touch with Trie and kept him apprised of the various investigations
against him. Agent Parker detailed what she called her boss's
foot-dragging in three spiral notebooks. Congress subpoenaed those
notebooks this summer, but after Parker turned them over to the Justice
Department to forward them to Congress, 27 key pages got ripped out before
lawmakers got ahold of the notebooks, and the pages have since
Cameron concluded with a
bit of first-hand observation of how agents scoffed at denials of
"Now Congress is promising all types of new
investigations, but unlike congressional probes of the past that targeted
Democrats or the White House, these will focus almost entirely on the
Department of Justice. And while the DOJ, the Department of Justice,
supervisors were denying any wrongdoing or political overtones in all of
this, those FBI agents were in the back of the room, Brit, snickering,
heard in a number of cases to say, 'Bull,' and a bit more."
Later, in the show's
roundtable segment, Brit Hume observed: "I've been in this town a long
time. I don't recall FBI agents ever testifying to anything like that
Nonetheless, about eight
minutes later, FNC's Fox Report skipped Cameron's report. After a look
at post-disaster problems in North Carolina and Taiwan the Fox Report went
to a story with an "exclusive" interview with Dr. Henry Lee about the
JonBenet case, a story that consisted of about one sentence from Lee.
Jerry Seper's front
page Washington Times story added some detail to the charges Cameron
outlined. Here are some excerpts from his September 23 story:
....At one point, the special agent in
charge of the FBI's LittleRock, Ark., field office wrote personally to FBI
Director Louis J. Freeh to complain about what he called an
"increasing amount of frustration by the working street agents
engaged in this matter."
"I am well aware of such matters as 'prosecutive
discretion,'but I am convinced the team at [the Justice Department]
leading this investigation is, at best, simply not up to the task,"
wrote Ivian C. Smith in the Aug. 4, 1997, missive. "I would point out,
based on my own experience with both Whitewater and [the campaign-finance
investigation,] attorneys without prior investigative or prosecutorial
experience should not 'lead' such investigations," said Mr. Smith,
now retired. "Investigators should be allowed to fulfill traditional
Mr. Smith said he did not hear personally
from Mr. Freeh, although within three months, the director recommended in
a memo to Attorney General Janet Reno that she seek the appointment of an
independent counsel to investigation campaign finances -- a suggested she
[Senator]Thompson said that in 1997, the
FBI learned that an assistant to Trie at his Little Rock office was
destroying documents FBI agents believed should have received under a
subpoena, but Justice Department lawyers rejected the FBI's request to
conduct a search of the his office "for the purpose of stopping this
destruction of evidence."
Mr. Smith, along with agents Daniel Wehr,
Roberta Parker and Kevin Sheridan, told the committee that their Justice
Department supervisor, Laura Ingersoll, who eventually was replaced as the
campaign-finance probe's lead attorney, prevented them from executing
search warrants they sought to stop the destruction of evidence.
The agents said they were blocked from
serving the search warrants because Miss Ingersoll did not believe they
had established probable cause to show that a crime had been committed.
The agents argued, however, that the probable cause standard set by Miss
Ingersoll was more than was legally required.
Mr. Wehr also testified that contrary to
claims by Miss Reno and other top Justice Department officials that the
inquiry would be vigorous and all-encompassing, Miss Ingersoll told the
agents they should "not pursue any matter related to solicitation of
funds for access to the president," adding that the reason given was:
"That's the way the American political process works."
He told the committee he was
"scandalized" by the remark. He also said that at one point he
was blocked from pursuing an informant who said he had seen Trie bring in
"duffel bags full of cash" for delivery to the Democratic Party.
Miss Parker, who also is an attorney,
testified that Miss Ingersoll instructed the agents assigned to the case
Justice Department "would not take
into consideration" evidence involving Mr. Clinton's legal defense
fund and an obstruction of the Senate's investigation.
She also said 27 pages from a spiral
notebook recounting her disagreements with Justice Department lawyers
disappeared after she turned over her notes to FBI superiors when Congress
sought information about the disagreements. She said the pages, which have
yet to be discovered, were torn out of the book, although she had no
information on who was responsible....
Director Louis Freeh "unequivocally opposed" the release of the FALN
members, fearing that could reinvigorate the terrorist group, the New York
Times revealed Wednesday morning in a top of the fold, front page story.
But the ABC, CBS, CNN and NBC evening shows skipped the revelation
Wednesday night, as did two of the three broadcast networks on Wednesday
MSNBC's The News
with Brian Williams, which has a deal with he New York Times to preview
the next day's paper, ran a story Tuesday night, but it was spiked from
Wednesday's Today. Despite the fact the news was also blasted across the
front of Wednesday's New York Post, the hometown paper of the morning
shows, CBS's This Morning ignored the news. The Post announced, "FBI
Boss Feared Freed FALN Bombers Would: RETURN TO TERROR." Total Wednesday
morning show coverage: MRC analyst Jessica Anderson found this 17-second
item read by Antonio Mora on the September 22 Good Morning America:
"Newly released documents show FBI Director Louis
Freeh opposed President Clinton's clemency offer to sixteen Puerto Rican
militants. Freeh drafted but never signed a letter to the House Judiciary
Committee expressing his concern that the militants would resume terrorist
activities after they were freed."
The night before, on
MSNBC's The News with Brian Williams, the show picked up on President
Clinton's UN appearance as Lisa Myers contrasted it with the FBI
revelation. As transcribed by the MRC's Mark Drake, Myers intoned on the
9pm ET September 21 show:
"Even as the President lectures the UN to be tough
on terrorism, he's again under withering fire in Congress for freeing
eleven Puerto Rican terrorists from prison. Today the FBI's top terrorism
expert warns that the President's action may reinvigorate the FALN, a
group responsible for a 130 bombings in this country, scores of deaths and
injuries in the '70s and '80s. "A
draft letter to Congress by FBI Director Louis Freeh says his agency is
'unequivocally opposed' to release of 'hardened terrorists' and that 'most
remained committed to violence.' Trying to quiet the storm, the President
in a letter today claimed politics played no role in his decision that he
offered clemency because the prisoners weren't convicted of violence and
their sentences were 'unduly severe.'
"That did not sit well
with the retired New York detective blinded and without part of his hand
thanks to an FALN bomb. House Chairman Dan Burton read from a
pre-sentencing report by law enforcement officials noting that one of the
terrorists authorized a murder while in prison. The President is still
withholding documents which might reveal how he made his decision citing
executive privilege but pressure is building among Democrats for him to
voluntarily disclose more about an act which very few defend. Republicans
gleefully point out that the last President who got in hot water over a
pardon, Gerald Ford, waived executive privilege and testified before
Congress, an option a Clinton adviser dismisses as absurd."
As Myers noted, on
Tuesday the House Government Reform Committee held a hearing on the pardon
decision. As noted in the September 22 CyberAlert, those hearings were
ignored by ABC, CBS and NBC on Tuesday night, while CNN's The World
Today spent 25 seconds summarizing Clinton's denial of any political
considerations, but none of the shows followed up with Freeh's letter
the next night. On Wednesday's Special Report with Brit Hume on FNC Jim
Angle revealed the unsent draft of Freeh's letter to House Judiciary
Committee Chairman Henry Hyde was included by accident in documents
delivered to the House Government Reform Committee.
The September 22 New
York Times provided this excerpt of the draft of Freeh's letter:
The request for commutation of the
sentences of these imprisoned Puerto Rican terrorists associated with the
F.A.L.N. was first made in 1994. Since that time, in response to requests
for comments, the F.B.I. has consistently advised the Department of
Justice , in writing, that the F.B.I. was opposed to any such pardon
and/or commutation of sentences for any of these individuals. As recently
as June 28, 1999, the F.B.I., in
written correspondence, advised D.O.J. that the F.B.I. continued to oppose
the release of these terrorists. Specifically, the F.B.I. pointed out to
D.O.J. that as active members of Puerto Rican terrorist groups, these
individuals sanctioned, supported and/or directly or indirectly
participated in activities resulting in no fewer than nine fatalities,
hundreds of injuries, millions of dollars in property damage and armed
attacks on U.S. Government facilities.
D.O.J. was also advised the F.B.I. had
reason to expect the release of these individuals would
"psychologically and operationally enhance" the ongoing violent
and criminal activities of Puerto Rican terrorist groups. The F.B.I. also
pointed out that any such pardon of the "currently incarcerated
terrorists would likely return committed, experienced, sophisticated and
hardened terrorists to the clandestine movement."...
With respect to the condition attached to
the commutation of sentences by the President, (i.e., that the terrorists
renounce violence as a form of protest) the F.B.I. had previously advised
D.O.J. that "few of the current prisoners have expressed remorse for
their crimes or for their victims; rather, most remained committed to
violence as a means to achieve Puerto Rican independence."
END Reprint of
an interview aired on Wednesday's Today, Barbra Streisand maintained
that she still thinks "history will say that" Bill Clinton "has been
a great President" and that she'd vote for him again. She also
insisted that Warren Beatty as President would "be better than Ronald
MRC news analyst
Geoffrey Dickens caught these insights in an interview the liberal movie
star/singer and Lincoln bedroom guest conducted with NBC's Jamie Gangel.
Here are the highlights.
people you know very well, two friends of your's appear to be running for
Gangel: "Do you want to talk about Warren Beatty
first or Hillary Clinton first?"
Streisand: "Well, well I don't know, first of all,
if he's really running. And two he'd be better than Ronald Reagan."
Gangel: "What about Hillary Clinton? You're a
native New Yorker. What do you think about her running for the New York
Streisand: "Well I think she's great. I mean
she's, she has great ideas you know, she's a Democrat and why not? I mean
why not Hillary? She's a fighter, you know, she's eloquent. I've never
seen anybody talk without notes like she does. Have you ever seen her
speak? She's amazing."
Gangel: "Have you decided who you are going to
support in the presidential campaign?"
Streisand: "Not exactly."
Gangel: "Any leanings?"
Streisand: "Well my leaning is to Gore but I just
want to find out more about Bradley before I totally commit."
Gangel: "You have been one of President Clinton's
most loyal supporters. Given what happened in the last year were you all,
at all disappointed?"
Streisand: "I think history will say that he has
been a great President. He has human flaws. And he has possibly bad
Gangel: "Were you disappointed in his
Streisand: "I think he took too many
Gangel: "It was reckless?"
Streisand: "Kind of reckless. It's a complex
thing. He's a person whose never had a father, who needs to be liked, you
Gangel: "Would you vote for him again?"
Streisand: "Yes I would vote for him again because
I don't think his private sexual life has anything to do with how he runs
the country. I just don't. We're getting too nosey, too gossipy, too,
trying to get inside people's bodies and brains. It's not right, it's not
Political analysis from
the mind of a Hollywood star which matches the thinking of much of the
Washington press corps. --
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