The FBI should have done more to investigate the Mark Foley e-mails or, alternatively, notified House authorities in charge of the congressional page program, the FBI's inspector general, Glenn A. Fine, said in a report today.
In effect, the report finds the FBI's inaction contributed to the failure of officials to detect Foley's inappropriate behavior, which eventually led to his resignation when ABC News revealed more sexually explicit e-mails and instant messages to current and former pages.
While finding no official misconduct on the part of FBI officials, the inspector general said "the e-mails provided enough troubling indications on their face" to have warranted follow-up steps.THE BLOTTER RECOMMENDS
Instead, the inspector general found, the supervisory agent decided there was no evidence of criminal wrongdoing and "placed the e-mails in her in box and took no further action" even though she found the e-mails "odd."
The e-mails were provided to the FBI in July 2006 by the non-profit Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW).
The inspector general said the FBI "at a minimum" should have told CREW it had decided against an investigation because "CREW was relying on the FBI to pursue the matter and as a result had not notified anyone else about the e-mails."
Melanie Sloan, the executive director of CREW, says the FBI's handling of the Foley e-mails was irresponsible. "They should take investigating potential, child sexual predators much more seriously," says Sloan. "Attorney General Gonzales said this is one of their top priorities, but their conduct in this case shows that clearly that is not the case."
The inspector general also concluded that widely reported comments by FBI officials on the e-mails provided by CREW were "not accurate."
Unnamed officials were quoted as saying "the reason that the FBI did nothing further at the time" was because CREW had provided heavily redacted e-mails and refused to provide information about the source of the e-mails.
Sloan says the agency owes her organization an apology. "The FBI didn't fail to take any action on the e-mails because of any of CREW's actions," she said. "What CREW gave the FBI, they failed to investigate all on their own."
The inspector general said it was unable to determine who was responsible for making the inaccurate statements to the media.