Curious Car Crashes: Louis Freeh, The Man With The Secrets

Any serious student of history is on alert for “interesting accidents.” Because sometimes they are accidents. Sometimes, they’re not.

We have no opinion at the moment on the one-car wreck that left former FBI Director Louis Freeh badly injured around noon on Aug. 25. But we do think it is worth reviewing what we know about Louis Freeh. Because all such incidents deserve scrutiny.

The Crash

From news reports available at press time, Freeh

was headed south on Vermont 12 in his 2010 GMC Yukon when he drove off the east side of the road. The vehicle struck a mailbox and a row of shrubs, then came to rest against the side of a tree, police said….[he] was airlifted from Barnard to Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, N.H., for treatment, police said.

And the Burlington Free Press reports that Freeh is under armed guard.

Louis Freeh

Louis Freeh epitomizes the risks attendant in a president’s decision to demonstrate bipartisanship by appointing or re-appointing figures associated with the opposing political party and/or prior regime. He also embodies the troubled legacy of the Bureau from its earliest days. (For a look at how the U.S. media cooperated with the Bureau to misleadingly burnish its image, see this)

Louis Freeh was appointed by George H.W. Bush to the federal bench in 1991. In the first year of Bill Clinton’s presidency, Clinton named Freeh head of the FBI.

Right from the start, the Freeh FBI was drenched in controversy. The “screw-ups” were legion—from the exposure of fraudulent FBI crime lab results to the wrongful blaming of an innocent man for the bombings at the Atlanta Olympics—to the bloody standoff and shootout at Ruby Ridge.

Freeh vs the Clintons

In order to move the heat off himself and his agency, Freeh made political peace with Newt Gingrich and his firebrand GOP Congressional operation, deflecting the political pressure back onto the White House. He did this via a Campaign Finance Task Force, under the auspices of his parent agency, the Justice Department. In December of 1996, after Clinton was re-elected. This became, prior to 9/11, what some say was the largest federal investigation in U.S. history.

Over 300 FBI agents were assigned to the investigation, which targeted both Clinton and Gore. No one was ever indicted but a steady drip of leaked stories pounded Gore particularly—feeding the damaging story line that he was a captive of the China Lobby and possibly even compromised by certain foreign intelligence services. This long-simmering PR crisis did serious damage to Al Gore’s prospects in 2000, and thereby aided the campaign of George W. Bush, son of Freeh’s original sponsor.

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