Assistant FBI Director Robert M. Bryant, who supervised the investigation of CIA turncoat Aldrich Ames and the peaceful surrender of the Montana Freemen, was promoted Tuesday to deputy director.
A 29-year veteran of the bureau, Bryant, 54, who has served as chief of its two main investigative divisions, takes over the No. 2 post immediately
“The selection of Bob Bryant is a true merit appointment,” said Attorney General Janet Reno. “His untiring work on behalf of the American people has led to landmark accomplishments against terrorism, espionage and other grave crimes.”
Bryant has been assistant director in charge of the FBI’s criminal investigative division since March. Before that, he had served since October 1993 as assistant director in charge of the national security division, which hunts spies and terrorists.
In that post, he had a major role, though not at the scene, in directing the investigation of the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing that resulted in the conviction and death sentence for Timothy McVeigh and the current trial of Terry Nichols.
Bryant was in charge of the 81-day siege of the separatist freemen enclave in Montana where the FBI successfully negotiated a peaceful surrender of all involved. That case helped deflect heavy criticism of the FBI for killing an unarmed woman at separatist Randy Weaver’s Idaho cabin in 1992 and for the deaths by fire at the Branch Davidian compound at Waco, Texas, during an FBI tear gas assault in 1993.
In 1994, he managed the investigation by agents of the Washington field office, which he had headed during 1991-93, that unmasked Ames, a counterintelligence officer, as the most damaging spy ever found inside the CIA. Ames is serving life in prison for spying that cost the lives of at least a dozen Soviet and East Bloc officials who were spying for the West between 1985 and 1994.
Bryant succeeds William J. Esposito, who retired Tuesday to take a more lucrative private-sector job.
A native of Springfield, Mo., with undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Arkansas, Bryant joined the FBI in 1968 in Seattle. He also has served in Dallas, Las Vegas, Kansas City, Mo., and Salt Lake City, where he was agent in charge.