STATEMENT OF JOHN CULBERTSON
THE CENTER FOR REFORM
BEFORE THE HOUSE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE
COMMERCIAL AND ADMINISTRATIVE LAW SUBCOMMITTEE
THE FAIR JUSTICE ACT
JULY 27, 2000
Mr. Chairman, Mr. Nadler and Members of the Subcommittee:
I am here in support of this legislation because conditions within the Federal Law Enforcement Community and the Department of Justice have deteriorated to a point where strong medicine is required if we are to continue in the traditions and greatness, which has defined America.
Four and one half years ago I began a pilgrimage which has brought me here today. In the wake of the Oklahoma City Bombing I began an inquiry as a private citizen with respect to a number of questions. Nearly four years ago I began a cooperative effort to answer these questions with Rep. James Traficant, then the Ranking Member of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, Public Buildings Subcommittee.
In that time we have discovered much to be concerned about and have expanded far beyond the original scope of the bombing investigation. Over a year ago I authored a report entitled "Deadly Failures" which identified security and law enforcement failures, which directly contributed to the Oklahoma City Bombing. Rep. Traficant sponsored H.R. 809, The Federal Protective Service Reform Act of 1999 that has passed the House and is now under consideration in the Senate.
With the release of the report I found myself approached by Federal Agents and Officers who had read the report and then sought me out. These people contacted me to voice their support and in some cases ask for help in getting in touch with Members of Congress with respect to problems and corruption within their agency. This trend soon expanded to include Federal Agents and Federal Employees from a wide range of Federal Agencies with problems.
I will highlight just a few of the cases to illustrate why the Department of Justice has demonstrated a consistent inability to function properly on behalf of the American People and is unable to police itself currently and for the foreseeable future.
Starting with the Bombing case itself my investigation found evidence that the Department of Justice along with another Federal Agency tampered with a Grand Jury Witness and attempted to influence and limit the testimony of this witness in an improper and illegal manner.
The investigation revealed that GSA was in violation of Public Law 100-440 on the day of the bombing and had severely understaffed the Federal Protective Service leaving the Murrah Building wide open to attack. This was a problem that was known to GSA in 1994 and yet was allowed to continue. FPS had only 40% of the officers mandated by the law on the day of the bombing. This willful act of omission should be considered negligent homicide, yet the Justice Department sits on the sidelines in callous disregard for 168 victims and their families who paid the ultimate price for this negligence.
With respect to statements made by the Department of Justice that there are no photos and video of the explosions at the Murrah Building, we have discovered that some indeed do exist and are known to members of the law enforcement community. We have a short video presentation with a Federal Police Officer describing a surveillance tape he personally witnessed at a gathering of law enforcement officers and comparing it to similar photos we have obtained in the Oklahoma City investigation which will be presented after this opening statement.
Moving on to another case in Oklahoma City, the Department of Justice, Office of Inspector General investigated the death of Kenneth Michael Trentadue in the Federal Prison Transfer Facility in August of 1995. The report cites numerous instances of perjury on the part of BOP personnel and one Special Agent of the FBI, contains accounts of negligence, destruction of evidence and obstruction of justice on the part of Federal Officials. Yet for all of the perjury and criminal acts on the part of federal officials detailed in the report the IG still manages to find that Mr. Trentadue committed suicide. A conclusion not supported by the facts or by credible homicide detectives who have investigated this case.
The Trentadue case is a perfect example of the Justice Department institutional machine protecting itself at all costs. At stake for the government is the liability in the unnecessary death of inmate Trentadue. Additionally the report details numerous problems with the Oklahoma City FBI field office evidence handling operation which also involves OKBOMB evidence as well as Trentadue evidence. FBI agents tell me these problems are not exclusive to Oklahoma City but exist across the country.
In other parts of the country problems are just as bad. EEOC complaints abound within GSA, FBI, the US Marshal's Service and other agencies, all of these complaints are ultimately handled by the Department of Justice which seeks to limit or in many cases eliminate the case by any means possible. To the Department of Justice the only possible victim is the government.
I have worked on numerous cases where the Department of Justice has refused defendants access to evidence in violation of Brady. They have invoked national security or cited other ongoing investigations as reasons for denying defendants access to evidence and information they are entitled to under the Constitution.
Facts are made to fit the case, rather than the case developed to discover the facts. The Department of Justice continues to amass considerable power without proper checks and balances.
This is illustrated in a memorandum signed by President Clinton in April of this year designating the Attorney General the Lead Federal Official responsible for Military Operations in a domestic emergency effective October 1, 2000. This is an enormous amount of power concentrated in an agency that has consistently failed to police itself and has run roughshod over it's employees who attempt to follow the law.
The Department of Justice has continued to whitewash, stonewall or selectively investigate serious allegations of wrongdoing. This pattern of selective investigation and cover-up is precisely the reason why a new oversight agency must now be considered. Problems like those exhibited at DOJ will not go away with a new Attorney General, Administration or promises to do better in the future. They are institutional as those who embarked on the pattern of abuses must continue to obfuscate and cover-up protecting themselves at the expense of the innocent.
Although the founding fathers had higher hopes, DOJ has become an institution sinking under the weight of its' own abuses. The Fair Justice Agency will provide oversight with teeth to keep this agency honest and restore it to serving the American people.
I will be happy to answer any questions the Subcommittee Members may have.