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FBI reform bill clears Senate Judiciary Committee

Responding to a series of FBI scandals, the Senate Judiciary Committee Thursday approved a wide-ranging set of reforms, including a special monitor to oversee the fabled crime-fighting agency.

The bipartisan legislation (S. 1974), which was sent to the Senate floor on a voice vote, grows out of a series of hearings that the committee held and an investigation of the bureau by former FBI director William Webster.

One of the bill's major reforms would establish within the Justice Department an official from the Inspector General's Office who would supervise and coordinate independent oversight of the bureau.

The legislation also includes protections for would-be whistleblowers and a number of managerial reforms, including additional training and opportunities for career development.

The move toward greater oversight of the FBI follows a series of prominent scandals. Among them: agent Robert Hanssen's selling of vital information to the Russians, the agency's disastrous handling of the standoff at the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas, and the agency's mishandling of documents in the Timothy McVeigh case.