Leahy, Specter take FBI to task

The leaders of the Senate Judiciary Committee strongly criticized the FBI Tuesday, citing a string of missteps that have tarnished the Bureau’s reputation.

Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), at a hearing with FBI Director Robert Mueller, cited a “pattern of abuse of authority and mismanagement” at the FBI and the Department of Justice (DoJ). Leahy pointed to several recent reports, ranging from internal and congressional investigations to newspaper articles, that have caused him and others on Capitol Hill “to wonder whether the FBI and Department of Justice have been faithful trustees of the great trust that the Congress and American people have placed in them to keep our nation safe while respecting the privacy rights and civil liberties of all Americans.”

Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), the ranking Republican on the panel, joined in Leahy’s criticism.

“Every time we turn around, there is another, very serious, failure on the part of the Bureau,” Specter said.

While the senator noted that DoJ’s inspector general found during a recent investigation that the FBI’s misuse of National Security Letters was not the result of “intentional misconduct,” he added, “where you have that pattern of reckless indifference, at a minimum, that rises to the level of what constitutes intentional misconduct.”