Nation/World

Weaver Report Released On World Wide Web Withheld By Justice, Newspaper Publishes Report On Internet

Millions of computer users can peek at a government investigative report so secret a U.S. senator can’t pry it loose.

A legal newspaper Wednesday released into cyberspace all 542 singlespaced pages of the U.S. Department of Justice’s internal investigation into the Randy Weaver siege at Ruby Ridge.

The tome was leaked last March to the Legal Times, a Washington, D.C., publication owned by the same company as Court TV. It reported excerpts of findings by a Justice team that included five attorneys and 19 investigators.

The Department of Justice continues to withhold the report at the request of Boundary County Prosecutor Randall Day, who is conducting his own investigation into the bloody standoff of August 1992.

Weaver’s 14-year-old son and a deputy U.S. marshal were killed during the siege, which began when a surveillance mission of the family’s remote cabin went awry. An FBI sharpshooter later wounded Weaver and friend Kevin Harris and killed Weaver’s unarmed wife, Vicki, while she stood in the doorway holding their 10-month-old daughter.

Weaver and Harris eventually surrendered and were acquitted in 1993 of murder charges.

Legal Times’ sister group, Lexis Counsel Connect, a legal on-line computer service, made it accessible Wednesday via the Internet’s World Wide Web.

At 1.2 million bytes, it’s the largest report ever put on its on-line service, said Eleanor Kurlow, managing editor of Lexis Counsel Connect.

She said unveiling the report will not hamper Day’s investigation. The release was prompted, she said, by the Oklahoma City bombing and a national debate on whether to expand the FBI’s authority and allow it to investigate militia groups.

“It was important to put that out, let the public see that report and how much power to allow the FBI,” Kurlow said. “We’re trying to further public awareness.”

The Justice report has long since been a moot point.

Four subsequent reviews - by FBI Director Louis Freeh, Assistant Attorney General Jamie Gorelick, Justice’s Office of Professional Responsibility and its civil rights division - overturned the findings, including that FBI sharpshooter Lon Horiuchi and top agency brass should be criminally prosecuted.

U.S. Sen. Larry Craig, R-Idaho, could not be reached for comment Wednesday but has “pushed, pushed and pushed” for the report’s release, said his spokesman, Bryan Wilkes.

Although happy to see the report made public by a news organization, Wilkes said Justice’s actions “are an egregious slap in the face. I don’t think Senator Craig is going to be too happy.”

Justice spokesman Carl Stern said “So what?” of the report’s release on the Internet.

“You’ve got a skewed report anyway,” Stern said, referring to later findings by senior officials who rebutted investigators’ conclusions. “It’s not uncommon for senior reviewers to come to a different conclusion than the line attorneys that investigate a matter.”

Day, the North Idaho prosecutor, asked the Justice Department in a March 28 letter to continue blocking release of its investigative report until he finishes his probe.

Day could not be reached Wednesday at his office or home. He has not returned telephone calls to The Spokesman-Review for the last few months.

, DataTimes MEMO: These sidebars appeared with the story: On the net The report on the Randy Weaver case is on the Internet’s World Wide Web. The address is http://www.counsel.com.

Report highlights The report finds enough illegal conduct by FBI agents to warrant their prosecution on criminal charges. Four subsequent Justice Department opinions, however, overturned that finding. Among the highlights of the internal probe: U.S. marshals “took a measured approach” in trying to arrest Weaver, a white separatist wanted on firearms charges. The FBI’s conduct during the 10-day siege was fraught with “numerous problems,” however. Intelligence gathering was poor. Agents not only departed from FBI rules of engagement but also violated the U.S. Constitution. The sniper who killed Weaver’s wife, Vicki, did not exercise legal deadly force. Agents failed to use “basic crime scene techniques in collecting evidence” and then withheld documents and evidence from the U.S. Attorney’s Office prosecuting Weaver and friend Kevin Harris. The government prosecutor sought the death penalty even though the Constitution would not have allowed it for their alleged crimes.

These sidebars appeared with the story: On the net The report on the Randy Weaver case is on the Internet’s World Wide Web. The address is http://www.counsel.com.

Report highlights The report finds enough illegal conduct by FBI agents to warrant their prosecution on criminal charges. Four subsequent Justice Department opinions, however, overturned that finding. Among the highlights of the internal probe: U.S. marshals “took a measured approach” in trying to arrest Weaver, a white separatist wanted on firearms charges. The FBI’s conduct during the 10-day siege was fraught with “numerous problems,” however. Intelligence gathering was poor. Agents not only departed from FBI rules of engagement but also violated the U.S. Constitution. The sniper who killed Weaver’s wife, Vicki, did not exercise legal deadly force. Agents failed to use “basic crime scene techniques in collecting evidence” and then withheld documents and evidence from the U.S. Attorney’s Office prosecuting Weaver and friend Kevin Harris. The government prosecutor sought the death penalty even though the Constitution would not have allowed it for their alleged crimes.



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