Burton Vows FBI Probe

Cites Case Involving Wrongfully Imprisoned Man

A Boston case in which the FBI knowingly participated in a conspiracy to send an innocent man to prison for 32 years has so incensed the chairman of the House Committee on Government Reform that he has vowed to keep investigating the FBI for more such injustices.

The chairman, Dan Burton, R-Ind., tells Mike Wallace in a 60 Minutes interview that he will press on with his campaign despite being denied access to subpoenaed FBI documents by an executive order imposed by President Bush. The interview with Burton will air Sunday at 7 p.m. ET/PT.

Burton will convene more committee hearings during the first week of February.

The case that enraged Burton involves Joseph Salvati, whom the FBI knowingly allowed to be wrongly convicted for murder to protect Mafia murderers who were FBI informants. Burton says this case destroyed his image of one of his childhood heroes.

“I always thought J. Edgar Hoover walked on water when I was a kid,” he tells Wallace. “But when I found out Mr. Salvati had been put in prison for a crime he didn’t commit and they knew it - the FBI for 32 years - and there was no remorse because of it, I said, ‘Something has to be done.’ ”

James Wilson, chief legal counsel for Burton’s committee, received FBI documents showing that the FBI’s knowledge of Salvati’s innocence led up the chain of command, right to Hoover. “That’s what the evidence shows…[Hoover] was kept informed of [Salvati’s case] on an almost daily basis,” Burton says . “It’s a shocking thing.”

Burton has subpoenaed more FBI documents, but Attorney General John Ashcroft has refused to supply them, and President Bush has backed Ashcroft up with an order of executive privilege. The White House maintains that airing the documents “would be contrary to the national interest.”

In lieu of documents, Burton will call witnesses to come forward with evidence of FBI wrongdoing at the scheduled hearings. He also wants to take Hoover’s name off the bureau’s headquarters.

“J. Edgar Hoover knew Mr. Salvati was innocent.…that was a miscarriage of justice,” Burton says. “He knew it and his name should not be emblazoned on the FBI’s headquarters. We ought to change the name of that building.”


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