Born: August 5, 1940
Died: November 29, 2007

Mike Shaheen was born in Boston, son of Dr. Michael E. Shaheen and Dorothy Wallace Cameron Shaheen. His mother died when he was an infant and his father later remarried. His stepmother was Mabel Elizabeth Wilborn Shaheen. When Mike was age 5, the family moved to Como, Mississippi, where his father set up a medical practice, serving patients of all races in defiance of the prevailing racist conventions of the time. Mike spent his youth in Como until high school age, when he prepared for Yale at Taft.

At Yale he was a member of Davenport College. He was a coxswain with the freshman crew in 1959 and a member of the Davenport Crew. He was also a member of Zeta Psi. Mike was a political science major. As the only member of our class who hailed from Mississippi, Mike was the object of some good natured ribbing, which he skillfully deflected with his typical good humor and his Southern drawl.

After graduation Mike obtained his law degree from Vanderbilt Law School in 1965. He clerked for a federal judge in Tennessee after law school and then returned to practice law in Como, Mississippi. He served as mayor of Como for several years while still in his twenties.

In 1973 he joined the U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division. Two years later, U.S. Attorney General Edward H. Levi chose Mike as his special counsel for intelligence. In late 1975, Levi established the Office of Professional Responsibility in the Justice Department and named Mike as director, a post he held for 22 years through 8 attorneys general until his retirement in 1997.

Mike had an illustrious career as "the Justice Department's top internal watchdog" as the Washington Post called him in its laudatory obituary. A man of unimpeachable integrity, a total commitment to justice, the highest ethics and great courage, he fearlessly investigated and uncovered abuses and misdeeds by the powerful and the less powerful alike, regardless of politics or position. His investigations and his reports frequently made national headlines and often shook the powerful from their perches.

In 1977, he investigated misconduct at the FBI and in 1978, published the first report on abuses by longtime FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover and his inner circle. Mike said at the time that "there definitely would have been prosecutions of the former insiders if the statute of limitations had not run." Hoover himself had died in 1972.

In 1980, he took on President Carter, who was not fully cooperating with an investigation of brother Billy's status as a registered foreign agent of the government of Libyan dictator Col. Muammar Qaddafi. In 1989 Mike's investigation revealed that Attorney General Edwin Meese had failed to document a $20,000 capital gain on his tax return. Meese resigned. In 1993, his scathing report accused FBI Director William Sessions of misuse of governmental property including repeatedly billing the government for private trips onboard FBI aircraft. His report led to the dismissal of Sessions by President Clinton. In 1995, he attacked the Clinton White House for its failure to cooperate in his investigation of firings in the White House travel office. He also led an investigation into conduct of White House counsel Vincent Foster whose subsequent suicide became a national cause celebre. Earlier he had challenged the oil and gas tax shelters held by President Reagan's attorney general William French Smith. He also examined misconduct in the ranks of the Drug Enforcement Agency, the Border Patrol, the Bureau of Prisons and the U.S. Marshals Service.

"Mike was a straight arrow, he was professional in every sense of the word and he took his job very seriously," former FBI and CIA Director William H. Webster said. "He was the go-to guy on any kind of ethical inquiry." "He combined a Southern courtliness with an explosive sense of humor, the kind of appreciation usually associated with knee slapper jokes," said journalist and author Ronald Ostrow.

Mike's humor and unflappability was best illustrated by a story which became legendary in the Justice Department. When Mike first met with newly appointed Attorney General Griffin Bell in 1977, following his release of an unflattering report on FBI harassment of Martin Luther King, Jr., Bell questioned why the report had been provided to Congress before it had been given to him and why everyone else had read it while he was only on page 38. "As to the first question," Mike replied, "your predecessor ordered the report to be sent to Congress. As to number two, maybe you just read slowly." Bell exploded into laughter, and Mike kept his job.

Michael was awarded the Presidential Rank Award for Distinguished Service and two Meritorious Service Awards. He also took great satisfaction in mentoring younger lawyers in the Justice Department; he was a source of professional and personal advice and guidance for many.

After his retirement from Justice in 1997, Mike served as chief counsel and deputy executive director of the Commission on the Advancement of Federal Law Enforcement. Also in 1978 he served as special investigative counsel for the independent review of the Internal Revenue Service's criminal investigation division. In 2000, he was named as senior counselor to then IRS Commissioner Charles Rossotti. More recently he served two years as director and chief counsel of the Commission for Review of the FBI Security Program. During his retirement years, Mike was often a guest on TV and radio programs whenever government ethics was an issue.

Mike married the former Polly Dammann in 1976. They first met when both were serving in the Civil Rights Division at Justice. Mrs. Shaheen, also a lawyer, is presently with the Civil Division of the Justice Department in Washington.

Mike and Polly resided in Falls Church, Virginia for many years. He and Polly had three sons: Michael E. Shaheen, III of Ithaca, New York, currently a law student at Cornell; Timothy Shaheen of Falls Church, the manager of a fine silver design and repair store; and Francisco Macedo of Atlanta, a computer software expert.

Mike died of pancreatic cancer. In addition to his wife and sons, Mike is survived by four half sisters and a half brother and three grandchildren: Lara, Louise and Lucas Macedo of Atlanta.

Mike was devotee of the arts, both musical and visual. Timothy's involvement with silver led him to share his son's interest also in fine silver.

After his death, in commemoration of Mike's Mississippi roots, his widow established a fund known as The Michael E. Shaheen, Jr., Fund to benefit educational opportunities for the young people of Como, Mississippi. It is administered by the Community Foundation of Northwest Mississippi based in Hernando, Mississippi, to which donations may be made in his memory.