Thursday, December 20, 2018

What is the FBI’s FD-302 that everyone is talking about relating to the trial of General Michael Flynn? A Former Agent’s Explanation.

This format (the FD-302) has been used by FBI Agents for decades (since the Hoover era); and largely the rules have remained the same.

The FD-302 is little more than a blank sheet of paper.  When Agents conduct interviews; and they might conduct numerous interviews in a single day.  They take notes.  They do not normally tape record interviews.  Why?  Because if you’ve ever done a recorded interview, you probably are aware that they can become inordinately long, containing unimportant and irrelevant information. Resultingly, they are labor intensive to transcribe and to read.

Attorneys love to use recorded interviews, normally considered to be ‘depositions.’  Such interviews by attorneys might go on for days; and take days or weeks to obtain the final transcriptions, which additionally require proof reading and corrections.  The FBI cannot justify such inefficiencies.  If you’ve ever worked for the Bureau, you will know said organization deals ‘in paper.’  An investigative file might typically be volumes.  If all interviews were recorded, you could increase the number of volumes by ten, maybe more; making them impractical to read or comprehend.

One other thing you should know is that the Bureau always have had a ‘Five Day Reporting Rule,’ which reportedly has been violated in the Flynn case; but I do not know all the details on that.  Said Rule requires the Agent to dictate for transcription from his or her notes, the findings of a particular interview, within ‘five business days.’  During my Bureau service, you could, probably would be, censured for not meeting the Five Day Rule.

In recent years, Agents are required to keep their ‘rough notes’ for an indefinite period of time.  This was not true when I was an Agent.  Then, once the 302 was completed, signed (accuracy verified) by the interviewing Agent or Agents (as well as received a Supervisor’s approval), the rough notes could then be destroyed.

The FBI does, at times, record interviews.  They should have recorded the Flynn interview, but decided that such action would inordinately undermine the 'covert' nature of their inquiry.

They should have recorded the Hillary Clinton interview; but, as we all know, that would have been politically indiscreet – dare we say the ‘fix’ was in on that one.

Why was Flynn not given his Miranda Rights, as is often customary?  Well, normally, Miranda is not required as long as the ‘person of interest’ or suspect is, or believes he is, free to go.  In other words, Flynn’s was not a custodial interview.

And then there is Judge Emmet Sullivan (Flynn's trial judge):  Well, he really let his bias show (kind of embarrassing) in suggesting that General Flynn might be the modern day equivalent of Benedict Arnold.

But, isn’t it interesting that with all the news coverage most folks do not know what alleged law was violated by General Flynn.  Was it for lying to an FBI Agent?  Was it failure to register as a ‘Foreign Agent’?

That said, other than Judge Sullivan, I don’t think anyone is seriously contemplating hanging the General for Treason.

Incidentally, Benedict Arnold escaped to the UK; and lived (sort of) happily ever after.

True Nelson

No comments: