Meet the Newest GOP Attack Dog
by Scott Shields, Sun Oct 16, 2005 at 09:01:25 AM EDT
Podesta compiles a laundry list of Freeh's "blunders and failures," including the FBI's handling of Wen Ho Lee, Robert Hanssen, and the millions of dollars wasted in the bungled upgrading of their computer systems. Beyond his failures, Podesta argues that the real problem with Freeh is that he seems completely incapable of taking responsibility for them.Who was to blame for the fact that there weren't enough FBI agents working on counterterrorism? According to Freeh, it was Congress. But in testimony three years ago, Freeh declared that "Congress has shown great foresight in strengthening" counterterrorism efforts, tripling the FBI's counterterrorism budget from $97 million in 1996 to more than $300 million in 1999. Whose fault was it that the FBI remained incapable of basic file management? Congress's, Freeh contends -- it underfunded the bureau's technology program. But as the report of the Sept. 11 commission points out, Congress did not meet FBI requests in the late 1990s because the bureau had squandered so much money already. Equally appalling is Freeh's recent claim on "60 Minutes" that the bureau was too distracted by the many "scandals" in the Clinton White House to attend to the terrorist threat. Of course, none of those politically motivated witch hunts, in which Freeh did the bidding of his congressional patrons on the partisan right, resulted in a conviction. And never mind that Freeh's FBI ought to have been able to protect the American people while pursuing other investigations at the same time.
And Podesta's not the only one to point out Freeh's failings. In My Life, President Clinton also listed "a whole series of missteps on Louis Freeh's watch." Alongside the failed computer system upgrades Podesta listed, Clinton cited "botched reports from the FBI forensic laboratory" and the "apparent attempted entrapment of Richard Jewell" in the Olympic Park bombing case.
On Meet the Press this morning, Freeh said that if Clinton had problems with him, the President should have fired him. This completely ignores the fact that Freeh was heading up numerous investigations into the administration -- Clinton firing Freeh would have looked like Nixon firing Archibald Cox. When Tim Russert asked him how he felt about the White House saying that Clinton felt Freeh was "doing the best job he can" in 1997, Freeh called that "a direct attack on a sitting FBI director." But firing him would have somehow been acceptable?
The unfortunate lesson from all of this is that Democrats cannot trust Republicans. Unlike the current Crony-In-Chief, President Clinton was willing to open the doors of his administration to Republicans as well as Democrats. (No, naming a Democrat to head up the Department of Transportation doesn't really count.) Former Republican Senator Bill Cohen is a perfect example, filling no less a crucial role in the Clinton administration than Secretary of Defense. Freeh, who's given $19,000 to Republican candidates and PACs, was openly hostile to the President during his administration and now even more so in retirement. While Podesta rightly points out that Freeh's attacks on Clinton are buck-passing of the first degree, one can't help but think that they're also partisan in nature.
Newt Gingrich, looking for any angle to get back into the public spotlight, has been citing Freeh's specious claims about Clinton asking for money from the Saudis. On Hannity & Colmes, Gingrich tried to relive his glory days, seemingly unaware that Bill Clinton is no longer the President.If the former director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation is prepared to swear that the president of the United States, Bill Clinton, while in office, was asking for money from a foreign leader, I think that is a criminal offense of the first order and threatens the very nature of the American system.
Freeh's claims are completely baseless, but that won't stop other Republicans from running with them. This book will join the pantheon of right-wing encyclopediae of smear, quoted from freely whenever a Republican sees the need to muddy the waters with misinformation.