What do John Gotti and the FBI have in common? They both have seemed to be made out of Teflon; only, for the FBI, (and not, eventually, for Gotti), the protective coating has stuck.
President Obama recently surprised many in both parties by extending current FBI director Robert Mueller’s term by two years, intoning that “in his 10 years at the FBI, Bob Mueller has set the gold standard for leading the bureau.” For Obama at least, that “gold standard” has apparently retained its sheen despite a fundamental flaw in the FBI’s truth-gathering apparatus that Mueller (and, to be fair, his modern predecessors as well) supports: the long-defended Bureau-wide policy of not recording interrogations and interviews, a practice that allows the FBI to manipulate witnesses, manufacture convictions, and destroy justice as we once knew it.
Instead of electronically recording its interviews and interrogations, the FBI’s policy is to rely on agents’ typewritten “section 302 reports,” crafted to reflect the supposed substance of the exchange. At such sessions, one agent takes notes by hand while the second agent—in the traditional two-agent FBI interviewing team—conducts the interview/interrogation. Tape recordings are almost never done because such recordation is – believe it or not – against formal written FBI policy. Therefore, the 302 report becomes the sole arbiter of what was, and was not, said; moreover, as we will see below, any interviewee who contests its accuracy risks prosecution. Hence, a potential witness’ script is written – and not necessarily by the witness himself – the moment he opens…Read More