[Congressional Record Volume 141, Number 114 (Friday, July 14, 1995)]
[Pages S9986-S9988]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]

                         THE TENNESSEE DEBACLE

  Mr. HATCH. Mr. President, let me take a minute to state I am going to 
make an announcement here, in the next half hour or so, about what the 
Judiciary Committee is going to do about the Tennessee debacle. So I 
just want to put people on notice that the Judiciary Committee is going 
to act on that debacle. I am very upset about it. I am upset about the 
way law enforcement officers have acted. It appears that there may have 
been--these are allegations, not necessarily facts--may have been ATF 
agents, FBI agents, perhaps even U.S. attorneys and other officials, 
there may even have been some Canadian Royal Mounted Police involved in 
this racist incident.
  So I am going to have a few remarks to make, and I am going to set a 
committee agenda on that before we end today. I just want people to be 
aware of it because we are not going to sit around and let that type of 
stuff happen.
  Mr. President, I will announce with more specifics what we are going 
to do. But as of today I am sending out a notice that the Judiciary 
Committee will hold a hearing next Friday on this matter. We expect top 
representatives from Justice, Treasury, FBI, ATF, and others to be in 
attendance and to come and tell us what they are going to do to get to 
the bottom of this, what kind of action they are going to take, to the 
extent they can tell us with the investigation as of that date.
  So I will talk about it with more specificity before the day is out, 
but I already have a notice going out. I have consulted with Senator 
Biden, and I have to say I have consulted with the distinguished 
Senator from Tennessee, Senator Thompson, who, representing his State, 
said that Tennesseans want to get to the bottom of this, they want to 
resolve it, and that he, representing Tennessee, will want to be 
involved in it and do everything he can to resolve it as well. He has 
shown great interest. I want to pay a special tribute to him for his 
work with me on this matter.
  Next Friday there will be an intensive hearing on this matter. We are 
going to just start to get to the bottom of it, and we are going to 
make some demands on the leaders of this country to come up with a 
system that will never permit this to happen again anywhere. We are not 
going to have law enforcement people, who wear the badge of the public, 
acting like racists, or being racist, or participating in racist 
  From what I have heard about this, assuming that it is true--and I 
have only read newspaper accounts and I have checked with some of these 
leaders--what I have heard about this, it is abominable. I have to tell 
you, I have chatted with some of the leaders who confirmed that it is 
true, that some of our agents have participated in this. Frankly, it is 
time to put an end, once and for all, to that type of racist activity, 
and we are going to do it.
  I want to personally pay tribute to people in Justice and the FBI and 
ATF and Treasury who have all indicated to me that they are with me on 
this, they want to get to the bottom of it, and they are going to 
handle it with great care and with efficiency.
  So we will talk more about it a little bit later. Those hearings are 
scheduled now for next Friday, and we are going to get to the bottom of 
this thing as much as we can as of that date. Then we are going to 
follow up.
  Mr. LEVIN. Mr. President, I am sickened by media reports, if they are 
correct, regarding the so-called ``Good O' Boys Roundup'' in Tennessee. 
According to these reports hundreds of law enforcement officials are 
involved in this whites only event in the spring of each year.
  These reports describe events at the gathering, sale of items like T-
shirts with a target superimposed over a picture of Rev. Martin Luther 
King, activities and displays so blatantly racist that I would not want 
to repeat them on the floor of the Senate. But, I want to make clear 
that the behavior of these officers, if the reports are true, is 
reprehensible and cannot be tolerated. They must be condemned if 
engaged in by anyone. But, if the participants were law enforcement 
officers sworn to protect the rights of all Americans, such activities 
are all the more reprehensible.
  I am pleased to see that Director John Magaw has ordered an 
investigation into the involvement of any ATF officers. I would hope 
that State and local authorities would follow suit. I trust that the 
ATF investigation will be timely, professional, and thorough, and that 
a full report will be made to the appropriate committees of Congress, 
and that officers found to have participated in racist activities 
should be discharged.
  Mr. President, this kind of overt racism is unacceptable and has no 
place today in American life. It is a sad fact of American history that 
it has existed at all. I am confident that the American people 
overwhelmingly reject such behavior, particularly by officers of the 
law, and will demand that it not be tolerated.
  I ask unanimous consent that two articles from the Washington Times 
be printed in the Record.
  There being no objection, the articles were ordered to be printed in 
the Record, as follows:
               [From the Washington Times, July 11, 1995]

    Racist Ways Die Hard at Lawmen's Retreat--Annual ``Good O'Boys 
        Roundup'' Cited as Evidence of ``Klan Attitude'' at ATF

                            (By Jerry Seper)
       Ocoee, Tenn.--They're trying to tone down the racist 
     trappings of the ``Good O'Boys Roundup'' here in the 
     Tennessee hills east of Chattanooga, where hundreds of 
     federal, state and local law enforcement officers gather 
     every spring to let off steam.
       There was a lot to tone down. Gone, for example, are many 
     of the crude signs that once greeted arriving officers, like 
     this one: ``Nigger check point.''
       The ``Good O'Boys Roundup'' is organized by agents of the 
     Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, and it was held this 
     year on May 18-20.
       Also gone this year was the traditional Saturday-night skit 
     highlighting the Good O'Boys steak dinner.'' In one skit, an 
     officer in fake Ku Klux Klan garb pulled a dildo from his 
     robe and pretended to sodomize another officer; who was in 
       But according to law enforcement officers who attended this 
     year's and other events, a whites-only policy remains in 
       Still on sale were T-shirts with Martin Luther King's face 
     behind a target, O.J. Simpson in a hangman's noose and white 
     D.C. police officers with a black man sprawled across the 
     hood of their car under the words ``Boyz on the Hood.''
       ``Nigger hunting licenses'' also were available throughout 
     the compound, consisting of motor homes, trailers, tents and 
     pickups gathered around a large beer truck.
       At this year's event, some black officers--including ATF 
     agents--attempted to crash the party and were turned away 
     after having ``bitter words'' with some of the white officers 
     in attendance, the sources said.
       At attempt by roundup organizers to tone down the event's 
     racist activities comes at a time when black agents have 
     charged ATF
      with discrimination. In a lawsuit pending in U.S. District 
     Court in Washington, they claim ATF supervisors have done 
     little to address complaints of racial slurs, harassment 
     and other job discrimination.
       Brought by 15 plaintiffs, the suit alleges that such 
     incidents as ``nigger hunting licenses'' seen in ATF offices, 
     a Ku Klux Klan card posted in ATF's Oklahoma City office and 
     use of the word ``nigger'' by white ATF officials have gone 
     unpunished. There are about 200 blacks among the 2,000 agents 
     within ATF, a law enforcement arm of the Treasury Department.
       Representing the black agents is lawyer David J. Shaffer of 
     Washington. He said that his clients were aware of the Good 
     O' Boys Roundup and that discovery in the case found that 
     announcements concerning it had been circulated exclusively 
     by and to white agents.
       ``This is what this lawsuit is about: a Ku Klux Klan 
     attitude among some of the white agents that seriously 
     affects black agents on a day-to-day basis,'' Mr. Shaffer 
       Trial in the case has been tentatively set for next year 
     before U.S. District Judge Royce C. Lamberth.
       The roundup, according to invitations sent out last year, 
     has been coordinated unofficially for the past several years 
     through the 

[[Page S9987]]
     ATF office in Greenville, S.C., and is open to ``any good o' boy 
     invited to attend.'' Non-law-enforcement attendees must be 
     sponsored and accompanied by law enforcement officers, and 
     participants wear wristbands to verify that they were 
       The event coordinator is Gene Rightmyer, a retired ATF 
     agent who previously was assigned to field offices in 
     Tennessee and South Carolina. Mr. Rightmyer did not return 
     telephone messages left for him with ATF for comment.
       Roundup invitations show that participants were asked to 
     send their registration fees--ranging from $70 to $90--to the 
     Greenville ATF office, and the office's telephone was listed 
     as the number for any questions concerning the event.
       Todd Lockhart, acting agent in charge of the Greenville 
     office, declined comment, referring inquiries to the ATF 
     regional office in Charlotte, NC.
       Several ATF agents in Greenville, however, were aware of 
     the roundup, and during interviews they expressed concern and 
     dismay over the annual event.
       ``I have never attended, nor would I,'' said one agent, 
     adding that he and others knew about the racist activities 
     and felt the event reflected poorly on the agency.
       ``I am not surprised about the signs or the other 
     activities, and
      whether the racism is overt or subtle, it is wrong,'' said 
     another ATF official. ``I cringe on behalf of the 
       None of the several Greenville agents interviewed 
     volunteered that they had ever attended the event.
       Earl Woodham, ATF spokesman in Charlotte, said he was aware 
     of the annual roundup and had been invited on one occasion to 
     attend but declined. He noted that the event was not 
     sanctioned or authorized by ATF.
       ``The ATF does not and will not tolerate any kind of 
     discrimination,'' he said. ``But what people do on their own 
     time is their business; we cannot control internal 
       Mr. Woodham said, however, that Mr. Rightmyer used ``poor 
     judgment'' in using the ATF address and telephone number in 
     his invitation. He said if Mr. Rightmyer were still employed 
     by the agency, he would be subject to ``a full review and 
     possible sanctions.''
       He also suggested that ATF officials who attend the annual 
     event were ``a lot of the older agents, spinoffs from the 
     days of the revenuers and moonshine chasers.''
       ``The younger agents just don't have time for this kind of 
     activity,'' he said.
       ATF spokesman Jack Killorin in Washington did not return 
     calls for comment.
       The roundup was organized in 1980 by ATF agents in 
     Chattanooga and Knoxville. It began with 58 persons, mostly 
     ATF agents, from Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky and 
     North Carolina. Roundup attendance jumped to 341 last year.
       According to Mr. Rightmyer's invitation, there are few 
     rules. Among those listed were no fighting, no fireworks and 
     ``what goes on at the roundup stays there.''
       Jeff Randall, a former Attalla, Ala., policeman who 
     attended this year's event, said that while he would not 
     ``condemn'' the entire group, there was ``an obvious racist 
     overtone'' by many of those in attendance.
       ``People can gather and have fun, and there was a lot of 
     good, clean fun available,'' he said. ``But the obviously 
     racist stuff was just not acceptable.''
       Mr. Randall also confirmed seeing black agents at this 
     year's event being turned away, saying that some of the 
     program participants were ``real mad'' that they had tried to 
     get into the compound.
       A former Alabama police official who asked not to be 
     identified said entrance to the roundup has in the past been 
     tightly controlled along a one-lane dirt road. He said he 
     personally saw and photographed racially inflammatory signs 
     along that road.
       The former police official, who said he attended three of 
     the roundups, said the majority of participants identified 
     themselves as ATF agents. ``The roundup has been a place for 
     law enforcement personnel to go and let their hair down,'' he 
     said. ``But some of this overt racism is just inappropriate, 
     plain and simple.''
       J.T. Lemons, owner of Grumpy's Whitewater Rafting here, 
     whose company sponsored rafting trips at the roundup, said 
     that organizers have ``done what they can over the past few 
     years to clean up the racism'' and that some overt signs were 
     ordered taken down.
       Mr. Lemons confirmed, however, that racially sensitive T-
     shirts ``and other stuff'' remained on sale.
       Other business owners in this Polk County, Tenn., 
     community--east of Chattanooga, adjacent to the Cherokee 
     National Forest--also confirmed they had seen the signs, T-
     shirts and other racist trappings but declined to be quoted 
     on the record.
       Meetings ``designed to keep the White House informed'' on 
     the incident, including a listing of administration officials 
     involved in giving or receiving information.
       Mr. Clinton and agency heads have pledged to cooperate with 
     the request.
       But yesterday, nine days before the hearings are set to 
     open, the joint panel has received documents on ``roughly 
     half'' of the issues requested, according to a senior GOP 
     source close to the negotiations.
       ``The Department of Defense has been very helpful, [and] 
     the Treasury Department just sent over 13,000 pages of 
     documents,'' Mr. Zeliff said. ``Some people are trying to 
     help us do our job, and some people aren't.''
       Justice Department spokesman Carl Stern denied that his 
     agency was stalling. ``We've given the committee complete 
       Mr. Mikva's office and the Defense Department did not 
     return calls seeking comment. Treasury Department officials 
     hotly denied they are stalling, saying about 80 percent of 
     the materials requested have been sent to the committee, and 
     ``almost all'' of the rest will arrive by tomorrow.
       Staffers for Mr. Zeliff's subcommittee have requested seven 
     years' worth of personnel records on every ATF agent charged 
     with misconduct. A senior source at the Treasury Department, 
     which oversees ATF, said officials there don't consider 
     records of agents not disciplined for their involvement in 
     the Waco siege to be relevant to the investigation.
       But the subcommittee is pressing on with its request, in an 
     effort to ``develop a pattern of overreaching on the part of 
     BATF agents,'' according to the high-level GOP source on the 
     joint panel.
       Also yesterday, Sen. Arlen Specter, Pennsylvania Republican 
     and presidential candidate, attacked Mr. Rubin for charging 
     last week that the hearings are politically motivated and 
     that proponents of hearings are ``opponents of law 
       In a response yesterday, Mr. Rubin denied saying that and 
     suggested Mr. Specter ``misunderstand[s] my views.''

Appalled ATF Chief Orders Probe of Agents' Role in Racist ``Roundup''--
                  Plans Discipline for Those Involved

                            (By Jerry Seper)

       The head of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms 
     yesterday ordered an investigation into the involvement of 
     ATF agents in a whites-only ``Good O' Boys Roundup'' in the 
     Tennessee hills, saying he has ``zero tolerance'' for racism 
     in the agency.
       Director John W. Magaw, who took over ATF in October 1993 
     in the wake of the botched Branch Davidian raid, said he was 
     ``appalled'' that agents would take part in an 
     event marred by obvious displays of racism.
       The Washington Times reported yesterday that ATF agents had 
     organized and helped coordinate the annual roundup since 1980 
     and that participants, who numbered more than 300 this year, 
     had displayed crude signs bearing racist remarks and sold T-
     shirts with racist and degrading slogans with depictions.
       The times also reported that, despite efforts in recent 
     years to tone down the roundup's racist trappings, a whites-
     only policy has remained in effect, and black law enforcement 
     officers, including an AFT agent, were turned away from this 
     year's May 18-20 event.
       ``I am appalled that an event as the one reported in 
     today's Washington Times would happen in any facet of our 
     society--particularly involving law enforcement officers,'' 
     Mr. Magaw said in ordering agency officials to find out how 
     many agents were involved and whether ATF property was used 
     to organize the event.
       ``Everyone at ATF knows of my intolerance for 
     discrimination and harassment,'' he said. ``If an inquiry 
     finds that anyone is involved in these practices, I will do 
     everything in my power to mete out the strongest possible 
       An AFT Officer of Inspection inquiry will look into 
     accusations that current and former agents
      participated, review whether current agents had breached the 
     agency's code of conduct, and try to determine what role 
     former agent Gene Rightmyer played in the roundup.
       Mr. Rightmyer, who has not returned telephone messages, has 
     organized the roundup the past several years and, according 
     to a recent letter of invitation, used the address and 
     telephone number of the ATF office in Greenville, S.C., where 
     he was assigned, as the contract point for registration fees 
     and questions about the event.
       Mr. Magaw said a preliminary review of the accusations 
     began last month after article from the Gadsden Minutemen 
     Newsletter was posted on the Internet. The Alabama article 
     said racist activities went on at the roundup and that ATF 
     agents were involved.
       The preliminary inquiry found that as many as 10 agents had 
     attended and that a black agent who went with two white 
     agents had left after hearing ``the racial undercurrents of 
     other participants,'' Mr. Magaw said.

                           *   *   *   *   *

       Roundup attendance jumped to 341 last year.
       Two former Alabama police officers who attended the event 
     this year said there were obvious racist overtones and 
     confirmed seeing black officers being turned away. They said 
     the majority of the participants they met identified 
     themselves as ATF agents, an accusation denied by Mr. Magaw.
       ATF has come under fire since the Branch Davidian raid in 
     1992 near Waco, Texas, during which the agency tried to serve 
     an arrest warrant on sect leader David Koresh, resulting in 
     the deaths of four agents and six Davidians. The agency's 
     actions at Waco will be the subject of House hearings 
     beginning next week.
       Black ATF agents have charged in a federal lawsuit that 
     agency supervisors have done little to address complaints of 
     racial slurs, harassment and discrimination.
       Trial in the case has been tentatively set for next year 
     before U.S. District Judge Royce C. Lamberth. There are about 

[[Page S9988]]
     blacks among the 2,000 agents in ATF, an arm of the Treasury 

  Mr. LEVIN. Mr. President, again I commend Senator Hatch. I know he 
will find strong bipartisan support for this initiative he is taking. 
There is a bipartisan determination to go root out this kind of racism 
in America.
  Again, I think he will find very strong support, both in the 
administration and in those agencies, to root it out, and, I am sure, 
on the part of both sides of the aisle.
  Mr. HATCH. Mr. President, if I could just add one other thing. The 
Judiciary Committee is going to resolve that problem. But we are also 
working very hard on the Ruby Ridge situation and also the Waco 
situation. We are going to resolve those, too. But I want to do it with 
a full investigation and not halfcocked. I want to get into it and do 
what has to be done.
  With regard to Waco, we also know the House is starting their 
hearings next week. They have asked us to defer our hearings until 
after theirs, in other words until September. We have agreed to do it, 
on Waco.
  On Ruby Ridge we are looking at it very, very carefully. We intend to 
follow through on it. I know the Senators from Idaho have both talked 
to me many times about this, and I have assured them this is going to 
happen and it is going to be done thoroughly and it is going to be done 
well. I just want everybody to understand that aspect as well, but I do 
think we do need to do some more investigation.
  On the ATF matter, or should I say the Tennessee matter that involves 
ATF, FBI and others, naturally we will not, by next Friday, have all of 
the investigation done. But next Friday is to make sure we have our top 
officials in Government come in and tell us what they are going to do 
about these racist activities and to chat with us on the Judiciary 
Committee about what we can do to help them.
  I have to, preliminarily, tell you, I am very concerned. I think, 
currently, our leaders over at the ATF and FBI are as good as we can 
have. John Magaw and Louis Freeh, Judge Freeh, are excellent leaders. 
They both are jumping right on this. Both of them have done an awful a 
lot to try to make sure there is no racism within their agencies, and 
Director Freeh in particular has been making sure that equal 
opportunity laws are abided by, outreach is being undertaken for 
African-Americans and other minorities to come into the FBI. And I 
commend him for it.
  I commend him for it. He has been a breath of fresh air ever since he 
has been there. I feel sorry that he has had to inherit some of these 
problems. He has inherited Ruby Ridge, and some of the other problems. 
But nevertheless, I have confidence in him in helping to resolve these 
problems, and we are going to do everything we can to help him and the 
others to do the job, as well as our Secretary of the Treasury, our 
Attorney General, and others to resolve some of these serious problems.