Manning Selvage & Lee
Yes, but not now. The time for the FBI to begin the rehabilitation
process lies somewhere down the road - beyond the daily flow of ’new
revelations;’ beyond the review and findings of the yet-to-be-named
independent investigator; and beyond the Congressional hearings. While
these events are being played out in the media spotlight, the FBI needs
to fully cooperate: turn over all the evidence and tell the truth. Then
- and only then - can the FBI begin to rehabilitate its public image
There is no way to ’spin,’ stonewall or shortcut the process and return
the FBI to its once-vaunted stature.
The FBI difficulty with the Waco affair is not a PR problem, but a
management problem at the agency. Supervisors apparently kept
information about the use of incendiary devices under wraps, which now
has led to the current crisis. When will those in Washington learn that
full and early disclosure saves a lot of embarrassment down the road?
The FBI can rehabilitate its image because it is an institution that
people want to believe in, even if individual agents or supervisors make
mistakes. Clearly, they now must not only make a full disclosure of the
facts about Waco, but openly admit any past errors or misstatements.
What they should not allow is having the information pulled out of them
in dribs and drabs over a long period of time by either the independent
investigator or the media.
A&E Television Networks
Rehabilitating an image that has been grounded in the myth of J. Edgar
Hoover - one of the original image-makers of the century - requires the
FBI to go back to basics. Step one, the FBI must tell the truth about
Waco. Beyond that, what the agency needs is to put a human face on its
mission by redefining it to the American people. Why do we need the FBI
in the 21st Century? They must answer this question before community
centers, veterans’ groups and soccer moms - the whole works, as if they
were running a political campaign. Tell us who you are, what you do and
why we need you. And for God’s sake, when it presents a spokesperson,
let the guy wear something other than a dark suit and white shirt (and
dark glasses - Ed).
The FBI must start by changing the subject and updating the public about
its accomplishments. What role, for instance, has the FBI been playing
in reducing crime and addressing issues the public cares about? Let’s
contemporize and humanize the FBI for Generations X and Y. What about
the ’10 Most Wanted’? Where are the visible, high-level women and
minority leaders? It must answer the questions ’What has the FBI done
lately?’ and ’Why should anybody care?’ As for a longer-term strategy,
it should create an issues platform, and take stands and make news on
things that relate to problems people care about - like violence, drugs
The FBI must involve itself more visibly in educating kids and making
life safer for Americans.