"Reno Chides Media on Waco Stories"
by Michael J. Sniffen ("Associated Press", September 30, 1999)
WASHINGTON (AP) - Attorney General Janet Reno, the daughter of two journalists, chided reporters Thursday for stories suggesting she and FBI Director Louis J. Freeh have serious disagreements.
``I have been looking at all your reports about how we are fighting, and I just don't see it,'' Reno told her weekly news conference. ``I see ... the best possible circumstance: an FBI director that I trust to speak out on what he believes to be right and tell me things as he sees it. We may disagree, but I know that I can count on him to give me the best advice he can.''
Reports of conflict between Reno and Freeh emerged two years ago when she rejected his recommendation that an independent counsel be named to investigate President Clinton's 1996 re-election campaign financing.
They reappeared recently after the FBI admitted, after six years of denials, that it had fired some incendiary tear gas canisters during the 1993 siege of the Branch Davidian complex near Waco, Texas. Reno and the FBI both say the incendiary canisters were fired at a concrete bunker 40 yards away from the wood complex that burned hours later. Cult leader David Koresh and about 80 followers perished during the fire.
Offering an explanation of the origin for dispute stories, Reno said, ``Sources love to run to you all, and you all like to cultivate your sources, and sometimes you hear echoes of yourself.''
As she has said before, Reno argued it is common for investigators eager to pursue a case to disagree with prosecutors trying to ensure any case withstands appeals. She put disputes between FBI agents and Justice lawyers over when to do searches in a Chinese espionage case and in a campaign finance investigation into this category.
``You don't want a Department of Justice that rubber-stamps everything the FBI does, and you don't want an FBI that agrees 100 percent with the prosecutors,'' Reno said. ``You want a healthy tension of people who are able to frankly and candidly express their opinion of the evidence and the law.
And that's what I think we've got.''
She refused to accept a reporter's characterization of her relation to Freeh as a natural rivalry. ``And when you disagree with your city editor, I don't think it's a rivalry,'' she said, recalling city editors and reporters she has known. Reno's father and mother worked for The Miami Herald.
Reno said she and Freeh ``talk about so many different issues: encryption ..., how we prepare the FBI for the age of cyber-crime, how we deal with international issues, how we put together a massive investigation and prosecution in Oklahoma City, how we addressed the issue of the Unabomber, how we focus on hate crimes, how we prepare for terrorism.
``We cover so many extraordinarily complex issues, and sometimes we disagree.
But we have worked together under very difficult circumstances in a way that I have been very happy with.''
Reported in that context, public disagreements would not undermine the public's confidence in the criminal justice system, Reno said. ``I don't think you all do it the right way. ... You pick fights.''
"Reno Differs With FBI, But Denies Serious Rift"
by James Vicini ("Reuters", September 30, 1999)
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno acknowledged Thursday she had differences with FBI Director Louis Freeh, but denied that public confidence in the FBI and the Justice Department has been hurt by their disagreements.
Reno sought to minimize the recent controversies with the FBI over the Waco siege, campaign finance, alleged Chinese spying and President Clinton's offer of clemency to 16 Puerto Rican nationalists.
``I have been looking at all your reports about how we are fighting, and I just don't see it,'' Reno told reporters at her weekly Justice Department news conference.
``I see what .. is the best possible circumstance: an FBI director that I trust -- trust to speak out on what he believes to be right and tell me things as he sees it. We may disagree, but I know that I can count on him to give me the best advice he can,'' she said.
Reno added she did not think the disagreements have undermined public confidence in the FBI or Justice Department.
The recent uneasiness began last month when the FBI disclosed, after six years of denials, that in the Waco case FBI agents fired potentially flammable tear gas canisters at a concrete bunker hours before the Branch Davidian compound went up in flames in 1993, killing cult leader David Koresh and about 80 followers.
Reno had relied on FBI assurances in testifying before Congress that no incendiary devices had been used, and had to admit her credibility had been damaged.
The Justice Department and the FBI also have differed over whether there was sufficient evidence for a wiretap of a scientist at the Los Alamos National
Laboratory in New Mexico who was suspected of passing nuclear secrets to China.
It was disclosed at a congressional hearing this month that the FBI had strongly opposed Clinton's offer of clemency to the jailed members of the Puerto Rican pro-independence group called the Armed Forces of National Liberation, known by its Spanish acronym FALN.
And three current and a former FBI agent recently testified that their pursuit of campaign finance abuses involving Democratic fund-raiser Yah Lin ``Charlie'' Trie had been hampered by Justice Department lawyers.
Reno said she does not want a Justice Department that automatically approves everything the FBI does, and does not want the FBI to agree all the time with the department's prosecutors.
``You want a healthy tension of people who are able to frankly and candidly express their opinion of the evidence and the law, and that's what I think we've got,'' Reno said, adding however, ``we're not perfect.'
Waco, FBI and the Branch Davidians: Updates
CESNUR reproduces or quotes documents from the media and different sources on a number of religious issues. Unless otherwise indicated, the opinions expressed are those of the document's author(s), not of CESNUR or its directors.
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