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IPFS News Link • FBI

The FBI's Forgotten Crimes against Richard Jewell

• by James Bovard

On July 27, 1996, a pipe bomb went off at Centennial Olympic Park in Atlanta, where the world's athletes and media were gathered for the Olympic games. The FBI decided that 33-year-old security guard Richard Jewell, who had found the bomb and helped clear the area and minimize fatalities, had also planted the bomb. FBI agents lured Jewell over to their Atlanta office and asked him to help them make a training film about detecting bombs. The ruse allowed the agents to question Jewell extensively without reading him a Miranda warning — without alerting him that anything he said could be used against him. As Investor's Business Daily noted, "Jewell was the bureau's top suspect, a fact that was leaked to the press in time for cameras to catch agents poring over Jewell's home." FBI leaks led to 88 days of hell for Jewell, who saw his life and reputation dragged in the gutter day after day. The FBI did nothing to curb the media harassment of Jewell long after it had recognized that he was innocent.

A Justice Department investigation concluded that the training-film scam violated Jewell's constitutional rights. But in 1997 Senate testimony, FBI chief Louis Freeh denied that Jewell's rights were violated because he did not incriminate himself. Who knew that only guilty citizens have constitutional rights?