Former FBI director Louis J. Freeh has denounced Bill Clinton over the scandals that marred his presidency and for his record on terrorism, saying the level of distrust was so great that he stayed in his post so Clinton could not appoint his successor.
In a forthcoming book and "60 Minutes" interview, Freeh, whose strained relations with Clinton were no secret, says he was so determined to distance himself from Clinton that he sent back a White House pass so that all his visits would be deemed official. This, he said, antagonized Clinton.
In an interview with CBS's Mike Wallace to be broadcast Sunday, Freeh says: "The problem was with Bill Clinton -- the scandals and the rumored scandals, the incubating ones and the dying ones never ended. Whatever moral compass the president was consulting was leading him in the wrong direction. His closets were full of skeletons just waiting to burst out." Freeh cited investigations involving Whitewater, Monica Lewinsky, Paula Jones and Gennifer Flowers.
Clinton spokesman Jay Carson said last night: "This is clearly a total work of fiction by a man who's desperate to clear his name and sell books, and it's unfortunate he'd stoop to this level in his attempt to rewrite history." He noted Freeh contributed nearly $20,000 to Republicans, including President Bush, in the last campaign.
In his book -- "My FBI: Bringing Down the Mafia, Investigating Bill Clinton, and Fighting the War on Terror" (St. Martin's Press) -- Freeh is scathing toward Clinton's handling of the 1996 bombing at Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia. He says Clinton refused to ask Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah to let the FBI question bombing suspects being held by the kingdom.
"Bill Clinton raised the subject only to tell the crown prince that he understood the Saudis' reluctance to cooperate and then he hit Abdullah up for a contribution to the Clinton Presidential Library," Freeh wrote. Carson said that was one of the "untruths in a book that's full of them" and that Freeh was not at the meetings between Clinton and Abdullah.
Daniel Benjamin, a former Clinton counterterrorism official, said Freeh is "factually wrong" and that the former president "pushed the crown prince quite hard," and eventually won Saudi cooperation that led to indictments in the case. "Freeh has been clearly discredited by the 9/11 commission and the congressional joint inquiry," Benjamin said.
The Clinton camp says "60 Minutes" would not accept any surrogate to rebut Freeh on camera once the former president declined to be interviewed.
During the Lewinsky probe that led to Clinton's impeachment, Freeh says, the FBI acted "very confidentially" when it needed to obtain a blood sample from the president to compare to the semen stain on the former intern's blue dress. During a dinner, Freeh says, Clinton said he was going to the bathroom but entered another room where FBI technicians were waiting.
Freeh says their relationship was so bad that Clinton began referring to him behind his back with an expletive as his middle name. Freeh says he did not care because his job was to investigate scandals, including those involving the White House.