clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:


The FBI's No. 2 official was censured for poor management Wednesday as actions of three Justice Department agencies were sharply criticized in an official report on a deadly 1992 siege of a white separatist's cabin in Idaho.

The discipline and criticism were issued by Deputy Attorney General Jamie Gorelick, who agreed with FBI Director Louis J. Freeh's earlier conclusions that there were widespread errors but that no FBI officials should be fired.The siege began as deputy U.S. marshals tried to find a way to arrest separatist Randy Weaver at his isolated Ruby Ridge, Idaho, cabin for failing to appear in court on weapons charges. Deputy Marshal William F. Degan and Weaver's 14-year-old son, Samuel, were killed. Later, an FBI sharpshooter wounded Weaver and another man, Kevin Harris, and killed Weaver's unarmed wife, Vicki, while she stood behind a door holding her 10-month-old child.

Gorelick criticized a series of hasty or ill-advised actions by the FBI, Marshals Service and U.S. attorney's office in Idaho.

But she agreed with Freeh that Larry Potts, now acting deputy FBI director and then head of the criminal division, should receive the least severe form of written discipline, a letter of censure, for "management omissions."

Like Freeh, she found that Potts "did not adequately follow through to ensure that his intent with regard to the rules of engagement was properly reflected in the final rules." She also found he should have "acted more aggressively to ensure appropriate FBI trial support" for federal prosecutors in a subsequent trial in which Weaver was acquitted of murdering Degan.

The rules of engagement adopted for the siege, criticized by Gorelick and Freeh as potentially unconstitutional, said deadly force "could and should" be used against any armed men in the open. Standing FBI policy bars lethal force except in defense of oneself or others.

Potts had denied he ever formally approved those rules, but two subordinates, Eugene Glenn, the FBI's Salt Lake chief and on-site siege commander, and Richard Rogers, head of the FBI Hostage Rescue Team, have sworn that he did.

Gorelick and Freeh accepted Potts' version.