March 6, 1995 in Nation/World

Fbi Official Contradicts Boss In Idaho Killings Ruby Ridge Commander Says Chief Ok’d Unusual Open-Fire Policy

Associated Press
 

A sworn statement by a senior FBI official contradicts acting deputy FBI director Larry Potts’ account of his role in the 1992 Ruby Ridge shootout, according to a legal newspaper.

Eugene Glenn, the FBI’s Salt Lake City chief and on-site commander during the standoff with white separatist Randy Weaver, swore to Justice Department investigators that Potts approved unusual orders that deadly force “could and should” be used against any armed men in the open, Legal Times reported today.

The weekly said it obtained a copy of the unreleased Justice report including Glenn’s statement and Potts’ denial that he approved those orders.

FBI Director Louis J. Freeh announced Jan. 6 his conclusion that Potts never approved the rules of engagement and only heard by telephone of an earlier version that said deadly force “could” be used. FBI policy bars lethal force except in defense of oneself or others.

Potts’ future is in the hands of Deputy Attorney General Jamie Gorelick. She must rule on Freeh’s unusual, simultaneous recommendation that Potts be censured for poor management of the shootout and promoted permanently to the FBI’s No. 2 job.

A marshal and Weaver’s 14-year old son were killed during the siege, which began when federal marshals tried to arrest Weaver at his isolated cabin for failing to appear in court on weapons charges. Later, an FBI sharpshooter wounded Weaver and friend Kevin Harris, and killed Weaver’s unarmed wife, Vicki, while she stood behind a door holding her 10-month-old child.

Freeh ruled the shooting of Weaver’s wife was an accident by an FBI sniper who acted under normal FBI weapons policy, ignoring the special rules that Freeh said were potentially unconstitutional.

If the special rules had been followed, “other steps including criminal ones would have been forthcoming,” Freeh said.

Freeh censured Potts and his deputy, who also claimed not to have seen the final rules that were sent by facsimile machine, for failing to provide proper management oversight.

Freeh’s toughest penalties - censure, a brief suspension and transfer to new duties - fell on Glenn and Richard Rogers, head of the FBI Hostage Rescue Team, whom Freeh blamed for drafting the rules. They both had claimed Potts approved those rules. Legal Times said Glenn is appealing his discipline.

Glenn told Justice investigators he spoke by telephone to Potts, then assistant director in charge of criminal investigations, about the rules on Aug. 22, 1992, a few hours before the shooting of Vicki Weaver, according to Legal Times.

“I was telephonically advised at the time, I believe by Assistant Director Larry Potts, that the (rules of engagement) were approved as formulated and could be enacted,” Glenn swore in his statement to Justice investigators, the newspaper reported.

During a 1993 trial in which Weaver was acquitted of murdering the marshal, Rogers testified he, too, received oral approval from Potts for the special rules of engagement.

The Justice task force wrote: “It is inconceivable to us that FBI headquarters remained ignorant of the exact wording of the rules of engagement during the entire period,” Legal Times reported.

The Justice task force recommended consideration of criminal charges in the killing of Vicki Weaver, but the department’s civil rights division concluded last fall there was no evidence the FBI used excessive force.

© Copyright 1995 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


Thoughts and opinions on this story? Click here to comment >>

Get stories like this in a free daily email