The report based on the investigation conducted by the private security and investigative firm headed by former FBI director Louis Freeh in the wake of the Sandusky incident is scheduled to be released this week and as might be expected, self serving leaks from Freeh are beginning to appear in the news media.
The first thing that needs to be said about Louis Freeh, the former director of the FBI whose firm was hired by Penn State to investigate and issue a report on the Sandusky matter, is that he was probably the least respected director of the FBI since Patrick Gray dumped a briefcase full of documents into the Potomac to help Richard Nixon's obstruction of justice during the Watergate investigation.
Freeh was considered to be a political hack by many members of congress, did not have a distinguished tenure as director of the FBI and does not have the squeaky clean and beyond reproach reputation as an objective observer that one would think Penn State would have insisted on to conduct, what is really nothing more than a PR gesture, a face saving attempt that was designed to ward off the criticism it suffered in the aftermath of the Sandusky revelations. Kind of like a politician or celebrity being caught in bed with a bunch of midgets and then announcing they are going into rehab. In other words the report will more political and PR show than anything else and the leaks coming from the report confirm it.
As recently as April 2012 Freeh was coming under attack by a congressional committee for his handling as a trustee for MF Global an invesment firm which went bankrupt after questionable dealings with its customers funds. Freeh was made a trustee whose responsibility included the return of misused customer funds in the amount of $1.6 billion something that still hadnt been done six months after Freeh became a trustee.
Ironically according to the New York Times report of April 18,2012, Freeh had come under harsh criticism because "he declined to share certain documents with regulators and his fellow trustee, James W. Giddens. In addition, a furor arose when it emerged that Mr. Freeh had been contemplating awarding bonuses to MF Global executives who remained at the firm". This after the firm bilked customers out of almost $2 billion.It is also a matter of record that Freeh was excoriated by the 911 Commission Hearings for his handling of terrorist related intelligence during his tenure as FBI director. Former Republican governor Tom Kane, chair of the 911 Commission said of Freeh and the FBI under Freeh, " it failed, and it failed, and it failed and it failed". This is who Penn State officials hired to investigate the Sandusky incident, how it was handled and issue a report.
Given the mess already made by Penn State officials, it is almost comical that they would hire someone to do an investigation by someone who themselves were attacked by a congressional committee for refusing to turn over documents to federal regulators.
Freeh's investigation and the report that will be issued, was entirely unnecessary in the first place. First because there has already been, if you want to believe in the competency of the DA's office and attorney general ( okay if you don't want to believe in their competency you'll find no argument here), an investigation by law enforcement and a thorough grand jury investigation that found no wrong doing on the part of Paterno, but indicted Curley and Schultz for perjury and failure to report child abuse ( adding to the Alice in Wonderland criticism of Paterno for "not doing enough" simply because the people he reported to didn't act on what they were told). And secondly because Freeh simply does not have the credentials or the credibility to conduct the investigation or judge anyone else's conduct.
So it should come as no surprise since Paterno was the cash cow in all this, the name and picture that rang the cash register, goosed the ratings and got the web hits, and since Freeh understands the politics and PR involved more than he understands anything else, it's expected that Paterno will be as much a focus of the report as he was the center of media attention and for the same self serving reasons. Its where the money is. ( if you doubt this, keep in mind that the ratio in the news media between Paterno's name and picture and Sandusky's during the first three weeks of the story was about 20-1 Paterno even though it was Sandusky who had committed the abuse).
The leaks regarding the report from the Political Mr. Freeh that are starting to surface, primarily given to CNN, make the desperate overreaching of the report and its PR bent already apparent.
One of the aspects highlighted in the report and given to CNN is that emails will show that Paterno preferred to discipline football players who committed violations and infractions rather than turn that over to one time overseer of Student Affairs, Dr. Vicky Tripony, something that clearly infuriated her and made her enraged that her turf was being infringed upon by Paterno.
Tripony was in charge of disciplining students at Penn State and based on the calculated leaks from the report which included her emails, she was clearly the archetype of the disgruntled employee, infuriated that Paterno was allowed to be the one to discipline his players and not her.
The emails leaked by Freeh clearly shows a woman who feels her turf is being stepped on by Paterno and deeply resents it, something that Freeh exploits. In one email she complains to then university president Spanier, " I am very troubled by the manipulative, disrespectful, uncivil and abusive behavior of our football coach".
One can take that two ways. Either that is an accurate portrait of Joe Paterno as a man and coach over the span of 50 years and everyone knows it and just ignored it and covered it up, or Tripony as they say, has issues. Given that her reaction to Paterno is out of character with what everyone else has known about him for 50 years, its more likely Tripony has issues and might consider a newspaper delivered headline down as disrespectful.
Its pretty clear from what was leaked that Tripony had an ax to grind, and possibly with football players.Did she resent their receiving special treatment in other areas as they do at other schools and was looking forward to being particularly hard on them which was thwarted by Paterno? Maybe. And maybe the report will address these things but probably not.
One thing that would validate Tripony is if the report contains similar complaints by other vice presidents of Student Affairs at Penn State. After all Paterno was there for more than 50 years. But if she is the only one complaining, the only one disgruntled, the only one the report cites, then, she may be the one with the problem and everything she says can be dismissed.
Was Paterno protective of his players? Obviously. Overprotective? Possibly. Did any receive special treatment? Possibly. But what any of that has to do with Sandusky who was NOT a player and wasn't even part of the coaching staff at Penn State at the time of the incident having left years before, and making Tripony's tirade a part of a report about the Sandusky incident is beyond comprehension. Unless you realize its politics, PR, and an investigator with a predetermined slant.
Seizing on the ranting of a disgruntled employee who feels that her power was being usurped over an issue that is a million light years removed from the real issues at hand, is, in this situation as in countless others, the product of a political hack. Which is the reputation Freeh had in Washington. And Tripony, if subjected to cross examination on a witness stand, would probably be torn to shreds.
Somehow Freeh wants us to think that Tripony's frustration at her inability to discipline football players with the same authority she had over other students, has something to do with allegations against someone who was not a football player or member of the Penn State coaching staff, his predatory behavior, Paterno's reporting what he was told about it to higher ups, and their failures to do their job and do, according to one email by Curley " what everyone agreed we would do".
Unless the Freeh investigation results in new, substantial and heretofore unreported facts that are actionable, the report is nothing more than a political stunt and PR gesture bought and paid for by Penn State officials who have handled the entire affair miserably from the beginning.
Regarding the cache of emails recently discovered and the leaking of one in particular which CNN publicized and twisted for their own gain and profit, then pulled after 2 days, Don Vannata of ESPN Magazine reported that a source who has seen all the emails ( clearly someone either inside the DA's office or Freeh's organization) told him emphatically that the leaked email was "definitely taken out of context", and was selectively chosen because it was the one email that" put everyone in the worst possible light". Sounds like Freeh.
So there is no reason to believe that any "report" coming from Freeh is going to be free ( no pun intended) of politics, manipulation, public relations and bias. That, according to leaks, the report is going to focus mostly on the Penn State football program going back decades and is going to be critical of the culture of the football program under Paterno, is pretty much proof that Freeh's report had nothing to say regarding anything that matters. Just pad it with irrelevancies so Penn State can think they got their moneyworth.And let it adhere to the already established storyline.
If anyone believes the culture of the football program had anything with do with Sandusky's predatory behavior and had anything to do with how Curley, Schultz and Spanier handled what Paterno and McQueary told them, good luck. And never play poker. Sandusky had been severed from the football program for years before the shower incident took place and almost all the victims Sandusky came in contact with came to him from his Second Mile charity.
If all the report has to talk about is the Penn State football program going back decades then it has nothing to talk about and has nothing to say about any of the facts that matter. And why this matters beyond Paterno and Penn State is because the news media has ruined politics and policy in this country for decades because they have an agenda that is designed more for their own money making self interest than anything else and fact don't matter. And second rate politicians always play along. Paterno and the media's treatment of his role is just the most recent and visible example.
The issue in question was what McQueary witnessed in the shower, what Paterno told Curley and Schultz and what was and was not done about it. Not what the culture was at Penn State football twenty years ago. Or for the past 50 years for that matter. Again if that's all Freeh has to talk about he has nothing to talk about ( and let's not forget that what McQueary testified to under oath at Sandusky's trial was so vague and inconclusive, the jury acquitted Sandusky of the count against him based on what McQueary saw in the shower while convicting him of 45 other counts. One can only imagine how vague the account was he gave to Paterno).
If Freeh presents evdience that Paterno influenced Curley and Schultz not to report what McQueary said he witnessed, (which every shred of evidence collected by law enforcement, Paterno's grand jury testimony and public statements disputes) then Paterno would be guilty of not reporting child abuse and more If Paterno did talk Curley into dealing with Sandusky "internally" which contradicts Paterno's public statements and grand jury testimony ( something that borders on the preposterous) he would be guilty. But one would think that under those circumstances, Curley and Schultz would have testified to that to the grand jury .
But the comment Paterno made that addresses this very issue was " with the benefit of hindsight I wish I had done more" ( not,by the way, that he "didn't do enough".) Being instrumental in keeping the allegation against Sandusky quiet and "internal" and talking Curley and Schultz out of reporting it when they had agreed they would is admittedly is a far cry from wishing he had done more. But if there is no evidence of that, then the Freeh report is a far cry from anything of value and is just a PR stunt and a waste of Penn State's money.
That Freeh turned up anything substantial or that will contradict what we already know regarding Paterno's actions which was part of the key issue he was supposed to be investigating, is not likely considering he had no subpoena power, no authority to investigate, could not compel cooperation from anyone, could not seize or even look at documents without the permission and cooperation of those in possession of those documents,( the emails of Schultz and Curley were the property of Penn State) and anyone who wanted to tell him to go jump in the lake could have without any legal repercussions. That he came up with nothing new is why the advance word is that Freeh's report will focus on 50 years of the Penn State football program under Paterno.
There is no way the Freeh report is going to be objective about Paterno because Freeh being the political animal that he is, will not leave himself open to media criticism that he let Paterno "off the hook". The media has their ground to defend, so do the trustees and Freeh, being a product of Washington DC politics, and not exactly revered for his objectivity during his tenure at the FBI, knows it. It is also beyond comprehension that he didnt interview members of the Paterno family, that they had to ASK to be interviewed and that he declined.
Freeh is very aware that the report will be the biggest news story in the country the day it's released, will be widely disseminated, widely read, reported on, picked apart and analyzed by the media in print, TV and radio, and talked about for days. His already shaky reputation and that of his business has a lot riding on the public reaction to the report which will be publicly defined by the media.
So it goes without saying he is not going to issue a report that in any way deviates from the storyline already established by the press or risk criticism by the media. That would be a PR nightmare for him and his business. If you think otherwise you are exactly the kind of person the report will be designed to influence -- the press and people who cant or wont think for themselves. And as Freeh knows, and as we've already seen, there are a whole lot of those.
There is one overriding fact that needs to be kept in mind throughout all this. All of the criticism leveled at Paterno by the media stemmed from just one thing -- the idea that Paterno "didn't do enough" with what McQueary told him about the shower incident he witnessed, in "only" reporting it to Curely and Schultz.( though not one Paterno critic anywhere at anytime ever said what they thought was "enough".)
Yet a jury of 12 men and women, presented with all the facts in a court of law, more facts than Paterno ever had and who heard McQueary's full unsanitized testimony under oath, not the sanitized version he says he gave Paterno-- those 12 men and women after hearing McQueary's testimony acquitted Sandusky of the charges of child sexual abuse against him stemming from the shower incident at Penn State that McQueary says he witnessed.
If 12 jurors after hearing McQueary's testimony, after being given all the facts, after convicting Sandusky of 45 other counts of child sexual abuse, and having all the time they needed to deliberate, decided that Sandusky was not guilty of the criminal conduct in that shower that was behind all the media frenzy, what exactly was Paterno supposed to do with even less information beyond what he did -- -- report what he was given by McQueary to Curly and Schultz as per Penn State guidelines and protocols within 24 hours and arrange for McQueary to tell them his story face to face.
For anyone missing the common sense or honesty to answer that for themselves , 12 members of a jury answered it for them. And that answer was as valid six months ago when all this became public, ten years ago when the incident occurred, in 2009 when the grand jury began investigating and now. And the answer is: nothing more.
And for those who still insist on claiming that Joe Paterno himself said he "didn't do enough", that's not what he said. He said "with the benefit of hindsight I wish I had done more." Which when it comes to being accurate and honest about what was written about Paterno, and honestly reporting the facts, is what every member of the media should be saying to themselves now. And they don't need a Freeh report to know it The real report is already in. Now with the Freeh Report, its time to send in the clowns.
ON THE REPORT:
The report was released this morning. As expected most of the conclusions drawn from the report are based solely on opinion, most of it laughable and wouldnt be admissable in a court of law. However there is one sentence that matters: According to the written report (most of which by the way reads like the political hatchet job that was expected), "Curley consulted with Paterno following sex abuse allegations against Sandusky and they changed the plan and decided not to make a report to the authorities".
As written earlier, if that turns out to be true then yes, Paterno would be guilty of covering up and would have been derelict in his responsibilities. However all the concrete evidence does not, repeat,does not, support that in any way, and that includes all the evidence, testimony, grand jury testimony and fact finding by Pennsylvania law enforcement.
Unless there is concrete evidence, and I mean evidence, not opinion, and not the kind of conclusion based on opinion that would be thrown out of court, unless there is proof of this beyond a reasonable doubt, the dishonesty of that sentence discredits the entire report and discredits Freeh as a political hack more than he already is.
That sentence if true, if there are heretofore unreported facts and evidence to back it up, ( and given the report is 200 pages it will take time to see if there is), it would make the attorney general, Pennsylvania law enforcement and the DA a collection of incompetent clowns, make Joe Paterno a liar and make Curley and Schultz flat out guilty of perjury and child endangerment along with Spanier. Either that will be the case, or the incompetent clown who failed in his responsibilites will be Louis Freeh.
If that conclusion is based solely on a questionable, intentionally self serving and distorted interpretation of that one email from Curley to Spanier that was leaked to the press and nothing else, if Curley, Spanier, Schultz and Paterno's family all deny there was a second meeting, if McQueary knew nothing about it, if there is no evidence of it, if Curley denies a second conversation with Paterno and denies he had anything to do with Curley changing his mind, if there is nothing but that email to assert that allegation, then this report becomes one of the most insidious, discredited dishonest hatchet jobs and peice of self serving garbage in recent memory related to a public event and Louis Freeh's reputation will be mud for all time.
If on the other hand, the report contains evidence, the kind of evidence that would stand up in court, that this assertion is true, and not the product of self serving twisted speculation, that with Paterno's knowledge and influence, the plan to report the abuse was changed and Paterno was complicit in the decision not to report the abuse to authorities contrary to his public statements then, while it does nothing to exonnerate the news media for its factually dishonest reporting on everything else in the past, it will be a sad day for Paterno's legacy.
But,on face value, given Paterno's lifelong reputation and integrity, and given Freeh's history of incompetence, lack of integrity, and reputation as a Washington game player, the report will have to have concrete evidence, the kind of evidence that we, as a jury will find to be true beyond a reasonable doubt, and not the opinion of a previously discredited political hack, that will decide that question.