FBI Reports Increase In Misconduct Firings

The FBI fired 32 employees for misconduct in 1998, up from 19 the year before, but it attributed the increase to swifter completion of more internal investigations.

In its annual report, the bureau's Office of Professional Responsibility said 301 employees received discipline in 1998 ranging from oral reprimands to dismissal, compared with 212 the preceding year.

"It is premature to describe the increase as a trend," the bureau's internal watchdog office said. "The increase in employees disciplined is attributable in part to increased efficiency in the disciplinary process" because more agents were assigned to OPR.

As a result, the office completed 528 investigations during 1998, compared with 399 in 1997. It also said the backlog of cases open for more than a year was reduced from 24.3 percent of the outstanding total at the end of fiscal 1997 to 16.7 percent at the end of fiscal 1998.

In a notable case, special agent Daron Council of New Orleans was accused of attempting to extort money from a drug dealer. After an OPR investigation, Council was arrested and fired and pleaded guilty to two counts of soliciting and accepting a bribe. He was sentenced to 16 months in prison and fined $3,000.

Other FBI employees were fired for lying to internal investigators, unauthorized disclosures, unprofessional conduct, misuse of government property, drunken driving, drug abuse, sexual harassment, misuse of a bureau position, theft or embezzlement of government property and other crimes.

Clinton Backs Change In Immigration Rules

President Clinton has sent Congress a bill that would equalize immigration rights for people from Central America and Haiti.

Traveling to the hurricane-ravaged region earlier this year, Clinton said he would seek to correct an imbalance in immigration laws that gave advantage to people who had fled communist regimes in Cuba and Nicaragua.

"Like Nicaraguans and Cubans, many Salvadorans, Guatemalans, Hondurans and Haitians fled human rights abuses or unstable political economic conditions in the 1980s and 1990s," Clinton said in a letter to Congress. "Yet these latter groups received lesser treatment than that granted to Nicaraguans and Cubans."

Under the legislation, migrants from Haiti, El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras who have resided continuously in the United States since Dec. 1, 1995, and have not been convicted of a crime would be eligible to become permanent U.S. residents. It would provide similar treatment to Haitians who sought protection in the United States in the early 1990s.

Hubbell Assails Whitewater Probe

Independent counsel Kenneth W. Starr's Whitewater inquiry was more an investigation "looking for a crime" than an effort to solve any wrongdoing, presidential friend Webster L. Hubbell told a lawyers' convention.

Hubbell told the annual meeting of the American Bar Association in Atlanta that after he pleaded guilty to bilking his clients and agreed to cooperate with Whitewater prosecutors, investigators wanted him "to say something about wrongdoing on behalf of the president or first lady."

"If I did not do so, that would not be considered cooperation," added Hubbell, who said he knew of no such wrongdoing.

Hubbell, once the No. 3 official in the Justice Department, served 16 months in prison and in June pleaded guilty to a felony charge of concealing legal work on a fraudulent Arkansas land project and also to a misdemeanor tax charge. He was sentenced to probation on those pleas.

Treasury Employees Choose Union Leader

Colleen M. Kelley was elected president of the National Treasury Employees Union Thursday at the union's national convention in Las Vegas. Kelley, who won with 94 percent of the vote, defeated four other candidates and succeeds Robert M. Tobias. A union member since 1974 and a former Internal Revenue Service agent, Kelley had been the union's executive vice president.

Frank Ferris was elected vice president of the union, which represents workers at the IRS, the Customs Service and other agencies.