FBI's Freeh Opposed Pardons, But Nets Don't Care; Beatty Better Than Reagan
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.
Thursday 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 Taiwan.
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."
Four 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:
Cameron concluded with a
bit of first-hand observation of how agents scoffed at denials of
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 before."
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 investigative roles."
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 rejected....
[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 that the
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....
FBI 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 morning.
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:
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:
"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 excerpt
In 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 Reagan."
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
Political analysis from the mind of a Hollywood star which matches the thinking of much of the Washington press corps. -- Brent Baker 
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