Larry Wallace, director of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, has been forced to apologize publicly for the actions of TBI agents at a peace protest on the campus of Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro, Tenn.
Wallace, whose tenure as director has been highly controversial, sent undercover agents to the Wednesday protest, which drew several hundred participants, to gather information. One of the agents approached several speakers, identified himself as a TBI agent, and demanded the correct spelling of their names, their addresses, and other personal information. One protester, speaking on condition of anonymity, told WND, "I felt like I was confronted by the Gestapo. I was literally afraid and horribly concerned."
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But the protesters weren't the only ones concerned. Newly inaugurated Gov. Phil Bredesen issued an immediate condemnation of the TBI operation, calling it a "huge mistake."
In a public statement, Wallace readily admitted to having sent undercover operatives to videotape recent anti-war rallies. According to Wallace, the "covert" operation was pursued to "protect protesters and ensure there were no threats to national security." He denied, however, that the state's top police agency was keeping files on protesters. Wallace also acknowledged that agents had not been sent to pro-war rallies in the state.
Wallace's questionable activities as TBI director have been the subject of numerous news reports, including close scrutiny by WND, over the past several years. Wallace and his general legal counsel, David Jennings, admitted to the Commission for Accreditation of Law Enforcement Agencies that they destroyed evidence without proper court orders in 1994 and again in 1997 in order to pass the CALEA accreditation review. In January 2001, a security guard at the TBI's new state-of-the-art headquarters in Nashville broke into the evidence locker with a wire coathanger and stole 24 kilos of cocaine being held as evidence. It has also been widely alleged that Wallace has used his position to block investigations of politically influential people in Tennessee.
According to his public statement Thursday, Wallace intends to continue surveillance at peace rallies and has asked the FBI to review the Tennessee agency’s procedures. Calls to the TBI for further comment were not returned.