A group of active-duty Tennessee Bureau of Investigation agents, citing WorldNetDaily’s and other media reports of widespread incompetence and corruption within the state’s premier cop shop, is lobbying state legislators for reform at the embattled agency, but Tennessee lawmakers appear to be turning a deaf ear to their pleas.
In fact, the TBI, subject of several WorldNetDaily investigative reports, may be collapsing from within, say insiders. And Director Larry Wallace, a longtime ally of former Vice President Al Gore, is threatening employees with termination for talking to state auditors, members of the state legislature and the news media.
The agents, who for the purposes of lobbying for change have taken the name, “Brotherhood of Truth, Bravery, and Integrity,” wrote a letter, marked “Confidential,” to state Rep. Frank Buck and copied to state Sen. Curtis Person of Memphis.
In that letter, a copy of which was obtained by WND, the authors advised the legislators that “The Tennessean [newspaper] has reported on the incompetent, ineffective and inefficient actions of the current top TBI officials. WorldNetDaily has reported on the corrupt actions of the current top TBI officials.” The authors, noting that TBI Director Larry Wallace “is the only state official that reports to no higher authority” and comparing him to “the Commissar of the KGB in Russia,” urge the legislators to create an oversight committee.
The group explains their anonymous status in the last paragraph: “The top TBI officials -– Director Wallace, Deputy Director Reeves -– have told TBI employees, ‘Any TBI employee who talks with auditors, legislators, or reporters will be terminated!’” Sources within the TBI and the Tennessee state legislature have confirmed to WorldNetDaily that a similar letter was sent to the Tennessee State Comptroller’s office.
Once respected as one of the finest state police agencies in the country, the TBI had a reputation in the 1980s for taking down crooked sheriffs. But that reputation floundered during the 1990s after Wallace’s appointment as director. Among his first actions was to disband the agency’s highly regarded public integrity unit. Former TBI directors such as current District Attorney General John Carney and Judge Arzo Carson have publicly denounced Wallace, and both former and current TBI agents have cooperated with WND during its investigation, despite threats of reprisals by Wallace.
WND has repeatedly reported on apparent corruption within the agency, including Wallace’s alleged penchant for interfering with and even killing investigations that involve politicians and their fundraisers. Both print and broadcast media across the state carried a January 2001 story broken by WTVF-TV in Nashville and WND, about the theft of more than 20 kilos of cocaine from a TBI evidence area by a rent-a-cop with outstanding felony charges — who never underwent a “required” TBI background check. The guard used a wire coat hanger to access a “theft-proof” evidence locker in TBI’s new $2.5 million headquarters.
Wallace and his general counsel David Jennings admitted last year to officials with the Commission on Accreditation of Law Enforcement Agencies (a non-profit organization that certifies police agencies) that WorldNetDaily reports concerning the illegal removal of evidence from TBI custody were essentially true. CALEA, which employs Jennings as a consultant, failed to take any action against the TBI despite the confession.
Even more puzzling than CALEA’s failure to act is the apparent reluctance of the Tennessee state legislature to initiate even the mildest of investigations into TBI’s alleged misdeeds. Buck, considered at one time to be Wallace’s most outspoken critic in the legislature, has failed to return repeated calls for comment. Both Republican and Democrat leaders were made aware of the allegations against the TBI nearly a year ago. Butch Morris, a former TBI narcotics agent and now chief of police in La Vergne, Tenn., testified before the legislature in 1998 about the agency’s shortcomings. Morris was fired soon after that testimony.
According to sources close to the legislature, state lawmakers are afraid to touch Wallace because of reports that he has compiled private files on each legislator, reminiscent of J. Edgar Hoover’s secret files. One former TBI agent noted, “it looks like Larry Wallace is holding Tennessee hostage and is getting away with it.”