THE AFTERMATH OF WATERGATE
Three days after Director Kelley's appointment, top aides in the Nixon
Administration resigned amid charges of White House efforts to obstruct
justice in the Watergate case. Vice President Spiro T. Agnew resigned in
October, following charges of tax evasion. Then, following impeachment
hearings that were broadcast over television to the American public
throughout 1974, President Nixon resigned on August 9, 1974. Vice President
Gerald R. Ford was sworn in as President that same day. In granting an
unconditional pardon to ex-President Nixon one month later, he vowed to heal
Director Kelley similarly sought to restore public trust in the FBI and in
law enforcement. He instituted numerous policy changes that targeted the
training and selection of FBI and law enforcement leaders, the procedures of
investigative intelligence collection, and the prioritizing of criminal
In 1974, Kelley instituted Career Review Boards and programs to identify and
train potential managers. For upper management of the entire law enforcement
community, the FBI, in cooperation with the International Association of
Chiefs of Police and the Major Cities Chief Administrators, started the
National Executive Institute, which provided high-level executive training
and encouraged future operational cooperation.
Kelley also responded to scrutiny by Congress and the media on whether FBI
methods of collecting intelligence in domestic security and
counterintelligence investigations abridged Constitutional rights.
The FBI had traditionally used its own criteria for intelligence collection,
based on executive orders and blanket authority granted by attorney
generals. After congressional hearings, Attorney General Edward Levi
established finely detailed guidelines for the first time. The guidelines
for FBI foreign counterintelligence investigations went into effect on March
10, 1976, and for domestic security investigations on April 5, 1976. (The
latter were superseded March 21, 1983.)
Kelley's most significant management innovation, however, was implementing
the concept of "Quality over Quantity" investigations. He directed each
field office to set priorities based on the types of cases most important in
its territory and to concentrate resources on those priority matters.
Strengthening the "Quality over Quantity" concept, the FBI as a whole
established three national priorities: foreign counterintelligence,
organized crime, and white-collar crime. To handle the last priority, the
Bureau intensified its recruitment of accountants. It also stepped up its
use of undercover operations in major cases.
During Kelley's tenure as Director, the FBI made a strong effort to develop
an Agent force with more women and one that was more reflective of the
ethnic composition of the United States.
THE RISE OF INTERNATIONAL CRIME
In 1978, Director Kelley resigned and was replaced by former federal Judge
William H. Webster. At the time of his appointment, Webster was serving as
Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit. He had previously
been a Judge of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of
In 1982, following an explosion of terrorist incidents worldwide, Webster
made counterterrorism a fourth national priority. He also expanded FBI
efforts in the three others: foreign counterintelligence, organized crime,
and white-collar crime.
The FBI solved so many espionage cases during the mid-1980s that the press
dubbed 1985 "the year of the spy." The most serious espionage damage
uncovered by the FBI was perpetrated by the John Walker spy ring and by
former National Security Agency employee William Pelton.
Throughout the 1980s, the illegal drug trade severely challenged the
resources of American law enforcement. To ease this challenge, in 1982 the
Attorney General gave the FBI concurrent jurisdiction with the Drug
Enforcement Administration (DEA) over narcotics violations in the United
States. The expanded Department of Justice attention to drug crimes resulted
in the confiscation of millions of dollars in controlled substances, the
arrests of major narcotics figures, and the dismantling of important drug
rings. One of the most publicized, dubbed "the Pizza Connection" case,
involved the heroin trade in the United States and Italy. It resulted in 18
convictions, including a former leader of the Sicilian Mafia. Then Assistant
U.S. Attorney Louis J. Freeh, who was to be appointed FBI Director in 1993,
was key to prosecutive successes in the case.
On another front, Webster strengthened the FBI's response to white-collar
crimes. Public corruption was attacked nationwide. Convictions resulting
from FBI investigations included members of Congress (ABSCAM), the judiciary
(GREYLORD), and state legislatures in California and South Carolina. A major
investigation culminating in 1988 unveiled corruption in defense procurement
As the United States faced a financial crisis in the failures of savings and
loan associations during the 1980s, the FBI uncovered instances of fraud
that lay behind many of those failures. It was perhaps the single largest
investigative effort undertaken by the FBI to that date: from investigating
10 bank failures in 1981, it had 282 bank failures under investigation by
In 1984, the FBI acted as lead agency for security of the Los Angeles
Olympics. In the course of its efforts to anticipate and prepare for acts of
terrorism and street crime, it built important bridges of interaction and
cooperation with local, state, and other federal agencies, as well as
agencies of other countries. It also unveiled the FBI's Hostage Rescue Team
as a domestic force capable of responding to complex hostage situations such
as tragically occurred in Munich at the 1972 games.
Perhaps as a result of the Bureau's emphasis on combatting terrorism, such
acts within the United States decreased dramatically during the 1980s. In
1986, Congress had expanded FBI jurisdiction to cover terrorist acts against
U.S. citizens outside the U.S. boundaries.
On May 26, 1987, Judge Webster left the FBI to become Director of the
Central Intelligence Agency. Executive Assistant Director John E. Otto
became Acting Director and served in that position until November 2, 1987.
During his tenure, Acting Director Otto designated drug investigations as
the FBI's fifth national priority.
On November 2, 1987, former federal Judge William Steele Sessions was sworn
in as FBI Director. Prior to his appointment as FBI Director, Sessions
served as the Chief Judge of the U.S. District Court for the Western
District of Texas. He had previously served as a District Judge and as U.S.
Attorney for that district.
Under Director Sessions, crime prevention efforts, in place since Director
Kelley's tenure, were expanded to include a drug demand reduction program.
FBI offices nationwide began working closely with local school and civic
groups to educate young people to the dangers of drugs. Subsequent
nationwide community outreach efforts under that program evolved and
expanded through such initiatives as the Adopt-A-School/Junior G-Man
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