Four More FBI Agents Refusing To Testify; Specter To Seek Challenge
WASHINGTON (AP) _ Four more FBI agents are refusing to testify at Senate hearings on the fatal siege against white separatist Randy Weaver, and the chairman of the hearing panel says the Senate may challenge the attorney who represents all four.
The FBI field commander for the 1992 Ruby Ridge operation, meanwhile, told the panel Tuesday that he was a ``tuna″ thrown to ``hungry sharks″ and unfairly blamed for the siege while higher-ups were never adequately investigated.
Four FBI colleagues declined to testify on constitutional grounds, prompting a complaint by Sen. Arlen Specter, chairman of the Senate Judiciary subcommittee on terrorism, about their being represented by the same attorney. Specter, R-Pa., said he may ask the Senate to challenge the arrangement in court.
Last week another FBI agent, sharpshooter Lon Horiuchi, also invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination and declined to testify. Horiuchi fired the shot that killed Weaver’s wife, Vicki, on Aug. 22, 1992, at the Weavers’ Idaho mountainside cabin, hours after FBI approval of a unique shoot-on-sight order to fire at any armed adult man.
A day earlier, Weaver’s 14-year-old son and a deputy U.S. marshal died in a gunfight, which broke out as federal agents pursued Weaver on a weapons charge.
Specter, addressing the attorney for the four FBI agents, Brendan Sullivan, as he sat at the witness table, said their case was different from that of Horiuchi, ``who pulled the trigger.″
Sullivan, a well-known Washington attorney, represented Oliver North in the Iran-Contra scandal.
Specter suggested it was a conflict of interest for Sullivan to represent all four agents _ since each of them might have information that could be damaging to the others. Sullivan said there is no conflict now.
``There is a potential for conflict of interest ... and we will proceed for an enforcement order,″ Specter said.
The four are Richard Rogers, chief of the FBI hostage rescue team; Stephen McGavin, deputy commander of the rescue team; Lester Hazen, an agent on the team; and William Gore, in charge of the FBI’s Seattle office.
In a closed session of the subcommittee, the four invoked their Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination and refused to answer other questions on grounds of attorney-client privilege.
Earlier, at the open hearing, the FBI field commander, Eugene Glenn, testified that now-suspended FBI Deputy Director Larry Potts approved the improper shoot-on-sight order at the Ruby Ridge siege site.
Potts denies ever approving the plan.
Potts received a light punishment for his role in the shootout and was promoted to be the No. 2 man in the FBI. He was later demoted. Glenn was censured and suspended.
Glenn appeared alone before the subcommittee just months after he prompted a new probe into the Ruby Ridge standoff by writing a letter alleging he had been made the scapegoat for the shoot-on-sight rules, even though his superiors at FBI headquarters approved them.
Five of his bosses, including Potts, were suspended with pay this summer and are under the cloud of a federal criminal investigation to determine whether they obstructed justice.