The FBI looked the other way when it knew that several people were being framed for a crime they did not commit. Some might say, “Well, we all know there were certain abuses when Hoover was running the bureau in the ol’ days.” But behold the argument advanced by the attorney representing the United States government:
Yesterday, a Justice Department lawyer argued that the FBI had no duty to share internal documents with state prosecutors and insisted the state was responsible for convicting the men in the slaying of Edward “Teddy” Deegan in Chelsea.
“The United States is not liable to plaintiffs because they were convicted as a result of a state prosecution,” Bridget Bailey Lipscomb said. “The FBI did not initiate this prosecution, and there is no duty of the FBI to submit to state or local governments any of its internal files.”
The government is not denying the fact that it knew what was happening. Nor is it saying the plaintiffs were wronged but are asking for too much money. The government is instead arguing that it had no duty to come forward.
At a minimum, one might ask what the FBI means when it says that one of its “core values” is “Accountability [by] accepting responsibility for its actions and decisions and the consequences of its actions and decisions.” Maybe the director means that his agents will not arrest people who bring lawsuits against the bureau alleging illegal conduct. Maybe he means something else.
At worst, criminal laws were broken here. An ordinary citizen can go to jail for suborning perjury. It is also a crime to stand by and let a crime take place without notifying the authorities (misprision of felony). The feds evidently believe they are not bound by these rules. Pretty shocking. Even if the judge rules against the Department of Justice, we should not forget what it argued in this case.
To listen to a Cato event on the FBI’s informer scandal, go here.