Wednesday, June 19, 1996

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  • Presidents Past and Present and the FBI

    Robert Parry, longtime reporter and director of the Nation Institute’s investigative unit, discusses the recent FBI file scandal involving hundreds of FBI files on prominent Republicans that were obtained by the Clinton administration without apparent justification in 1993 and 1994, a case which is currently being investigated on orders from Attorney General Janet Reno. Parry points to a disparity between the way this scandal and past FBI scandals have been handled, such as the Reagan/Bush administration’s aggressive use of the FBI against groups like CISPUS, a group that opposed US involvement in El Salvador. In that case the FBI was used by the Republican administration to harass US citizens for their political positions, but there was very little criticism from the Democrats about such tactics, whereas the Republicans are now fiercely protesting the Democrats’ use of FBI files. Parry also cites an example from 1992, when Clinton was leading in the election polls, and the FBI were ordered to investigate his passport files to find something to discredit him. Parry uses these and other cases to point to the fact that the current scandal is no different, and in fact, is likely far less egregious, than the routine use of the FBI by past administrations. Robert Parry is also now producing a newsletter called The Consortium for Independent Journalism that investigates stories that mainstream media does not cover, such as Colin Powell’s involvement in the Iran Contra affair and in the cover up of the My Lai massacre in Vietnam.

    Guest: Robert Parry

  • Church Burnings: What the Government Is and Isn’t Doing

    Tyrone Powers, a former FBI agent, discusses the recent wave of arson attacks on churches with predominantly black congregations and the government’s virtual silence on this matter. Powers asserts that the church burnings are a form of domestic terrorism and should be treated accordingly by the FBI. He thinks the government is downplaying the attacks for economic as well as racist reasons; they are stopping the FBI from labeling the fires as terrorism because of how that sort of publicity might affect the upcoming Olympics in Atlanta. Pattern, not conspiracy, is how the fires were recently labeled by the Washington Post, but Powers points to far more sporadic violent incidents – such as the Oklahoma city bombing – that were labeled as conspiracy and terrorism. Powers also discusses the FBI’s long standing history of overt racism, which he personally experienced as an African American FBI agent, and which he feels is equally prevalent now as it was in the past under the direction of J. Edgar Hoover, though it might be more concealed currently.

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