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Freeh Unveils Tough FBI Conduct Rules : Law enforcement: Guidelines might have resulted in dismissal of previous director. Agent applicants to take drug use lie-detector tests.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

FBI Director Louis J. Freeh announced tough new guidelines Monday governing the conduct of all FBI employees and job applicants, emphasizing higher standards of ethical behavior and allowing inquiries about sexual activity.

The guidelines suggest that ethical infractions similar to those of Freeh’s predecessor, William S. Sessions, might be cause for dismissal. In addition, all applicants will have to submit to lie-detector tests on drug use.

In a directive to all FBI executives, Freeh said that the guidelines are among policies he has sought to institute since becoming director six months ago.

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“I have determined that we have been too tolerant of certain types of behavior,” Freeh said, adding that he wants to “draw a bright line which should serve to put all employees on notice of my expectations.”

Regarding sexual activity, Freeh stressed that “homosexual conduct is not per se misconduct.” The guidelines, however, say that any sexual conduct might be investigated and evaluated in connection with granting top-secret security clearances.

For example, “an extramarital affair that is concealed from a spouse may create a vulnerability” to blackmail or coercion even though the conduct itself may not be grounds for dismissal, officials said.

Under the new guidelines, officials said, “the FBI will draw adverse conclusions if there is an attempt to conceal activities that might make the employee or applicant vulnerable to coercion, espionage or theft” of documents.

Freeh told his executives that he does not wish to establish “an elaborate table of offenses and penalties.” Rather, he said, “we must acknowledge, uphold--indeed revere--core values, such as integrity, reliability and trustworthiness.”

To this end, “lying, cheating or stealing is wholly inconsistent with everything the FBI stands for and cannot be tolerated,” according to the guidelines.

The rules seem to suggest the Sessions case in stating that agency employees or officials could be dismissed for such infractions as “failure to cooperate during an administrative inquiry” or “the unauthorized taking, using or diversion of government funds or property.”

Sessions, who had refused to resign as FBI director, was fired last July by President Clinton based on official findings that he had abused his office. Among the infractions cited were expending official funds on business trips to places where he could meet with family members, billing the government for a security fence at his home that provided no security and failing to cooperate with authorities during their inquiry into the financing of his home.

The guidelines also provide for suspension or dismissal for the unauthorized disclosure of classified or sensitive FBI information. Last December, before formulation of the guidelines, Freeh suspended James Fox, head of the FBI’s New York field office, on grounds that he had commented about the World Trade Center bombing case on television in violation of a federal judge’s gag order.

On drug use, Freeh reversed an FBI policy that banned hiring any person who had ever used an illegal drug. Under the new guidelines, the FBI will institute a polygraph test on all drug questions and will continue to discharge persons currently using such drugs.

However, Freeh said, a new provision would allow some candidates to be hired who have stopped using illegal drugs.

“The FBI does not condone any prior unlawful drug use by applicants,” according to the guidelines. “The FBI realizes, however, some otherwise qualified applicants may have used drugs at some point in their past.”


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