Skip to main content

Ashcroft wants probe into security at Justice

Attorney General John Ashcroft is interviewed on ABC's "This Week" on Sunday  

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The Justice Department will launch a probe of its own security measures after an FBI agent's arrest on espionage charges.

Attorney General John Ashcroft said Sunday that he wants to know how accused spy Robert Hanssen could have supplied Russia with U.S. secrets while working as an FBI agent.

The investigation is separate from the review of the FBI's security procedures mounted by William Webster, a former CIA and FBI director. Ashcroft said Sunday he hoped both investigations would bring recommendations for improving security.


Ashcroft ordered the Webster investigation shortly after Hanssen's arrest last month. He said Sunday that he did not think the probe by Webster, a former federal judge, and the new investigation by the Justice Department's inspector general would duplicate each other unnecessarily.

"I have requested the inspector general to do this investigation with a view toward cooperating where appropriate, going beyond or otherwise following avenues that might not otherwise be determined to be productive avenues for examination by Judge Webster," Ashcroft told ABC's "This Week. "I feel that the inspector general, also with his independence and awareness, would have something to contribute."

Robert Hanssen  

Some of the possibilities that might be considered, he said, could be increased psychological testing of agents, expanded use of polygraphs and closer monitoring of internal databases.

"We need to know if specific information is being accessed by individuals who don't have a reason to use the information," Ashcroft said.

U.S. authorities said Hanssen's activities went undetected for so long because he had access to the types of databases in which his name might turn up if he were suspected of security breaches.

Among the secrets Hanssen is accused of disclosing during his alleged 15 years of spying is the existence of a secret, technology-packed surveillance tunnel under the Soviet Embassy in Washington -- later the Russian Embassy.

Judge orders secrets protected in spy case
March 6, 2001
Judge denies bond for accused spy
March 5, 2001
No deal for accused spy being discussed
March 1, 2001
In wake of Hanssen arrest, senator suggests changes
February 28, 2001
FBI: Hanssen suspected he was under surveillance
February 27, 2001
FBI investigators sure they got their man in spy case
February 23, 2001
FBI to start polygraph tests following spy probe
February 22, 2001
FBI digs more into spying case
February 21, 2001

U.S. Department of Justice
Federal Bureau of Investigation
  • FBI Press Room - Press Release - 2000 - Veteran FBI Agent Arrested and Charged with Espionage
Central Intelligence Agency
US Department of State

Note: Pages will open in a new browser window
External sites are not endorsed by CNN Interactive.


Back to the top