WASHINGTON — William S. Sessions, the West Texas judge hailed for his tough stance on crime, was sworn in Monday as the fourth director of the FBI.
At a ceremony at FBI headquarters, Sessions was flanked by President Reagan, Atty. Gen. Edwin Meese III and his predecessor, CIA Director William H. Webster, as he took the oath of office for a 10-year term administered by former Supreme Court Chief Justice Warren E. Burger.
Each in turn saluted the conservative Texan as he took over the helm of the law enforcement agency before a host of top government officials and a crowd of several hundred.
Meese, introducing Sessions with the comment that "his honesty and his courage are legendary," said his "cool demeanor symbolizes his approach to the law.
"Every defendant must be treated with fairness and respect," Meese said, "but if found guilty, every defendant must pay the full price."
'Very Tough, Very Fair'
Reagan hailed Sessions as "very tough but very fair," and as "a man of integrity devoted to constitutional rights."
"I can think of no one better qualified to live up to the FBI tradition," the President said to the applause of the crowd.
The ceremony for Sessions, who was confirmed unanimously by the Senate in September, had been twice delayed by his hospitalization for a digestive tract ailment.
Reagan joked briefly that Sessions had the good sense to get "the ulcer out of the way before you became director."
"My pledge today is truly unchanged," said Sessions, who at his confirmation hearings promised to keep the FBI independent and refuse any presidential order he considered unethical. "That is to lead in a fashion that unerringly and faithfully supports the Constitution and the laws of this great land.
"My hope is that when my term is completed, my associates here at the bureau will regret my departure and my country will have been strengthened by my service," he said.
Sessions was accompanied by family members from San Antonio, where he has served as chief federal judge of the Western District of Texas since 1980.