JULY 8, 2015 | MATT CONNOLLY
FBI’S AMAZING TRICK TO AVOID ACCOUNTABILITY
Though FBI reports are often admitted as evidence, they are sometimes so unreliable that even a federal judge once refused to be interviewed unless he could review the report first.
Matt Connolly is a former Deputy District Attorney of Norfolk County, Massachusetts
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How credible are the reports of interviews filed by FBI agents working a case? In fact, such reports are known to be so unreliable that in one case, a federal judge refused to be interviewed by agents unless he was allowed to review their report and make corrections.
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The FBI’s process for handling 302s is hardly an ideal one for accurate recording and transmittal of what was said during an interview.
The process is thus: two FBI agents ask questions and listen to the answers—without tape recording or obtaining a certified transcript. Instead, they return to their office and, based on their recollection and any notes they may have taken during the interview, write up a summary of what transpired. Summaries are, in most cases, written hours later, sometimes even the following day.
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It would be easy to remedy this ancient system of conducting interviews that has existed since J. Edgar Hoover became FBI director in 1924. Why not establish a rule that all interviews be electronically recorded? In this high-tech age it’s hard to conceive of valid arguments against mandatory electronic recording, except in instances where circumstances make it impracticable. Other than such exceptions, the most trustworthy evidence—the person’s voice—would be preserved.
The FBI did recognize the pressure to change it in 2006. Its reasons are specious, boiling down to it likes the way things are now done so why change? It also states there are no federal laws requiring it to record the conversations which allows it to refuse to do it.
The issue is straight forward: do we want the best evidence—a record of the words spoken between an FBI agent and another person—or would we rather continue with the evidence the FBI agent looking to solve a case figured she heard and decides to write down. It is time that Congress acts to require federal agents to do the same thing when they interview witnesses and suspects as they do when listening to intercepted communications… which is to record them.
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Consequently, NEVER make any statement to any bureaucrat without making your own recording.
If you can’t, then just repeatedly assert your Fifth Amendment right.
I remember a story back when a lawyer would not let his Client make any statement to the FBI that he wasn’t recording. Hence that interview never took place.
Trust no one in the criminal gang that calls itself “the State”!
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