The Law: Putting the FBI In the Dock

Felony crimes were pulled off literally under the noses of FBI agents, but for decades not a single arrest was made. The reason? The offenses—burglaries, unauthorized wiretaps, mail thefts and assorted other illegal dirty tricks—were committed by agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, pursuing real or imagined enemies of the country on orders from their superiors.

Last week, the first felony indictment of an agent in the bureau's 69-year history was returned by a New York City grand jury. John J. Kearney, 55, a retired FBI special-unit supervisor, was named on five...

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