The FBI Stings Congress

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first tapes were quickly reviewed by officials at the department's highest levels to see if the tactics used by the actor-agents in the field were proper. Moreover, each actual cash payoff was witnessed by a Justice Department attorney, who sat in an adjoining room and watched a closed-circuit TV monitor. In some instances, the attorney would telephone one of the agents serving the sheik, if the bribe suggestions were getting too bold. The agent picking up the telephone would be advised to ease the pitch.

Even as one House subcommittee announced plans to investigate the FBI'S internal ground rules for its sting operations, Director Webster expressed his belief that the FBI and Congress as a whole have compatible interests. Said he: "It's been my experience that public officials—say in Congress, for instance—want to get the rotten apples out. They're proud of what they are doing, and they are angered by anybody that is bringing discredit upon them by association."

He suggested that Abscam had not targeted individual public officials "just to see what they are up to, but grew instead out of investigative leads." That, he said, is "proper."

Abscam is not the only FBI operation to lead into higher levels of political corruption. TIME learned last week that another FBI sting called Brilab, for "bribery labor," had fooled the New Orleans Mafia boss, Carlos Marcello, into believing that two FBI agents actually were insurance brokers seeking a cut of the lucrative fees that they would acquire by selling health and welfare in surance contracts for state employees in Texas and Louisiana, as well as municipal workers in Houston.

Marcello, who claimed to have great influence in arranging such insurance, told the agents which politicians could be bribed—and readily accepted a $5,000 payment for his advice.

Marcello dined, drank and traveled with the disguised FBI men, laying out a trail of corruption that led to the staff of Louisiana Governor Edwin W. Edwards. Various state officials in Texas and local officials in Houston are also under investigation. Marcello further revealed to the agents a plot to bribe a federal judge in Los Angeles with up to $250,000 to fix a racketeering-murder trial of five Mafia figures. The judge was tipped by the FBI before he was approached by the plotters. The Brilab scam was shut down last week.

Apart from its covert schemes, the FBI's new interest in political corruption has concentrated on at least one other U.S. Senator: Nevada Democrat Howard W. Cannon. A court-authorized FBI wiretap on the telephone of Allen F. Dorfman, a former Teamster consultant who had long maintained influence over the huge pension funds of the various Teamster unions centered in Chicago, led agents to question whether Dorfman might have enticed Cannon into shaping a bill deregulating the trucking industry into a form more acceptable to the Teamsters. As chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, Cannon was a key figure in any such legislation. Cannon's suspected payoff was to get Dorfman's help in purchasing valuable land owned by the Teamster pension fund in Las Vegas, where Cannon also has a home. But the deal was never consummated.

Says Cannon: "I've never heard anything more absurd in my life."

Just where the FBI's new

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