FBI's Leadership in Detecting and Preventing
Terrorist Attacks on U.S. Soil
FBI's Leadership in Detecting and
Preventing Terrorist Attacks on U.S. Soil
On 4/14, following the
testimony of FBI Counterterrorism/Counterintelligence executive John Pistole on
Future Attacks inside the United States", Director Mueller and
Intelligence Executive Maureen Baginski specifically responded to 9/11
Commission members on
the FBI's Leadership in detecting and preventing terrorist attacks on U.S. soil.
Source : FBI, Washington D.C. April 14, 2004.
Director Mueller's testimony include:
- a description of
asymmetrical and diverse threats to the U.S. that use criminal networks to
advance terrorist plans.
- the need for fused
intelligence and law enforcement capabilities to predict and prevent terrorist
- the need for an integrated
law enforcement/intelligence "task force" network, at home and abroad and on
the community level, to detect and defeat terrorist plans.
- an overview of the FBI's
7-point plan to protect the homeland against attack.
- the importance of protecting
Americans against attack in strict compliance with the Constitution and the
rule of law.
Director Mueller's conclusion ?
"The men and women of the
FBI have embraced and implemented these counterterrorism and intelligence
reforms, while continuing to shoulder the responsibility to protect America.
And, they have carried out the pressing mandate to prevent further
terrorism, while continuing to work in strict fidelity to the Constitution and
the rule of law."
Statement of Robert S. Mueller, III, Director, FBI Before the National
Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States, April 14, 2004
Thank you Chairman Kean, Vice Chair Hamilton and
members of the Commission for the opportunity to address you this afternoon. You
have been given an extremely important mission: to help America understand what
happened on September 11th and to help us learn from that experience to improve
our ability to prevent future acts of terrorism.
The FBI recognizes the importance of your work,
and my colleagues and I have made every effort to be responsive to your requests.
I have appreciated your critique and feedback on the efforts we are making to
improve the FBI. I look forward to receiving your recommendations on how we can
continue to improve.
Let me take a moment before addressing the
specifics of the FBI's reform efforts to reflect on the loss we suffered on
September 11, 2001. I wish to acknowledge the pain and anguish of the friends
and families of those we lost that day, and I want to assure you that we in the
FBI are committed to doing everything in our power to ensure that America never
suffers such a loss again.
Like so many in this country, the FBI lost
colleagues that day. John O'Neill was a retired counterterrorism investigator
who had just started a new job as head of security for the World Trade Center.
Lenny Hatton was a Special Agent assigned to the New York Field Office. Lenny
was driving to work when he saw the towers ablaze, rushed to the scene and
helped to evacuate the buildings. He was last seen helping one person out the
door and then heading back upstairs to help another.
It is the memory of the thousands like John and
Lenny who died that day that inspires the men and women of the FBI and fuels our
resolve to defeat terrorism.
The terrorist threat of today presents complex
challenges. Today's terrorists operate seamlessly across borders and continents,
aided by sophisticated communications technologies; they finance their
operations with elaborate funding schemes; and they patiently and methodically
plan and prepare their attacks.
To meet and defeat this threat, the FBI must have
several critical capabilities:
First, we must be intelligence-driven. To defeat the terrorists, we must be able
to develop intelligence about their plans and use that intelligence to disrupt
We must be global. We must continue our efforts
to develop our overseas operations, our partnerships with foreign services and
our knowledge and expertise about foreign cultures and our terrorist adversaries
We must have networked information technology
systems. We need the capacity to manage and share our information effectively.
Finally, we must remain accountable under the
Constitution and the rule of law. We must respect civil liberties as we seek to
protect the American people.
This is the vision the FBI has been striving
towards each day since September 11th. It is also the vision that guided
Director Freeh and the Bureau throughout the last decade. Director Freeh and his
colleagues took a number of important steps to build a preventive capacity
within the Bureau. With their complex investigations of various terrorist plots
and attacks, they developed extensive intelligence and an expertise about
international terrorism that is the foundation of our efforts today. With their
doubling of Legal Attache offices around the world, they developed the overseas
network and relationships that are so critical to the war against international
Prior to September 11, 2001, however, various
walls existed that prevented the realization of that vision. Legal walls -- real
and perceived -- prevented the integration of intelligence and criminal tools in
terrorism investigations. Cultural walls -- real and perceived -- continued to
hamper coordination between the FBI, the CIA and other members of the
Intelligence Community. Operational walls -- real and perceived -- between the
FBI and our partners in state and local law enforcement continued to be a
challenge. Since the September 11th attacks, we and our partners have been
breaking down each of these walls.
The legal walls between intelligence and law
enforcement operations that handicapped us before 9/11 have been eliminated. The
PATRIOT Act, the Attorney General's intelligence sharing procedures and the
opinion from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review tore down the
legal impediments to coordination and information-sharing between criminal
investigators and intelligence agents. We can now fully coordinate operations
within the Bureau and with the Intelligence Community. We can also deploy the
full range of investigative tools -- both criminal processes like search
warrants and grand jury subpoenas and intelligence authorities like FISA wiretap
warrants -- to identify, investigate and neutralize terrorist threats. With
these changes, we in the Bureau can finally take full operational advantage of
our dual role as both a law enforcement and an intelligence agency.
We are eliminating the wall that historically
stood between us and the CIA. The FBI and the CIA started exchanging senior
personnel in 1996, and we have worked hard to build on that effort. Today, we
and the CIA are integrated at virtually every level of our operations. From my
daily meetings with George Tenet and with CIA officials at my twice daily threat
briefings, to our joint efforts in transnational investigations, to our
coordinated threat analysis at the Terrorist Threat Integration Center, we and
the CIA have enhanced our interaction at every level. This integration will be
further enhanced later this year when our Counterterrorism Division co-locates
with the CIA's Counter Terrorist Center and the Terrorist Threat Integration
Center at a new facility in Virginia.
We have also worked hard to break down the walls
that have, at times, hampered coordination with our 750,000 partners in state
and local law enforcement. We have more than doubled the number of Joint
Terrorism Task Forces (JTTFs) since 9/11. We have processed thousands of
security clearances to permit law enforcement officers to share freely in our
investigative information. We have created and refined new information sharing
systems that electronically link us with our domestic partners. And, we have
brought on an experienced police chief from North Carolina to serve as our State
and Local Law Enforcement Coordinator.
This coordination has been the hallmark of our
operations since September 11th. A good example is the case involving the
Lackawanna terrorist cell in upstate New York. Every one of our partners played
a significant role in that case -- from the police officers who helped to
identify, investigate and surveil the cell members, to the diplomatic and
Intelligence Community personnel who handled the investigations and liaison
overseas, to the federal agents and prosecutors who conducted the grand jury
investigation leading to the arrests and indictment.
Removing these walls has been part of a
comprehensive plan to strengthen the ability of the FBI to predict and prevent
terrorism. We developed this plan immediately after the September 11th attacks.
With the participation and strong support of the Attorney General and the
Department of Justice, we have been steadily and methodically implementing it
This plan encompasses many areas of
organizational change -- from re-engineering business practices to overhauling
our information technology systems. Since you have a detailed description of the
plan in the written report we submitted on Monday, I will not repeat it here
today. If I may, however, I would like to take a moment to highlight several of
the fundamental steps we have taken since 9/11.
Our first step was to establish the priorities to
meet our post-9/11 mission. Starting that morning, protecting the United States
from another terrorist attack became our overriding priority. We formalized that
with a new set of priorities that direct the actions of every FBI program and
office. Every FBI manager understands that he or she must devote whatever
resources are necessary to address the terrorism priority, and that no terrorism
lead can go unaddressed.
The next step was to mobilize our resources to
implement these new priorities. Starting soon after the attacks, we shifted
substantial manpower and resources to the counterterrorism mission. We also
established a number of operational units that give us new or improved
counterterrorism capabilities -- such as the 24/7 Counterterrorism Watch Center,
the Document Exploitation Unit, and the new Terrorism Financing Operation
We then centralized coordination of our
counterterrorism program. Unlike before, when investigations were managed
primarily by individual field offices, the Counterterrorism Division at
Headquarters now has the authority and the responsibility to direct and
coordinate counterterrorism investigations throughout the country. This
fundamental change has improved our ability to coordinate our operations here
and abroad, and it has clearly established accountability at Headquarters for
the development and success of our Counterterrorism Program.
As I noted earlier, another critical element of
our plan since September 11th has been the increased coordination with our law
enforcement and intelligence partners. We understand that we cannot defeat
terrorism alone, and we are working hard to enhance coordination and information
sharing with all of our partners, including the Department of Homeland Security
which plays a central role in the protection of our nation's borders and
infrastructure. This coordination is critical to every area of our operations.
As you pointed out in your second staff statement,
this coordination is particularly critical when we face a transnational threat
from Al Qaeda or another terrorist group that operates internationally. In that
situation, we need to be completely aligned with the CIA, with foreign services,
and with other agencies that have operations or information relating to that
We have learned much about how we and other
agencies coordinated the investigation of Khalid al Mihdhar and Nawaf al Hazmi
in 2000 and 2001. As your staff statement explained, our efforts to investigate
and locate al Mihdhar and al Hazmi were complicated because some felt that they
could not coordinate or share certain information with others.
Because of our improved coordination since 9/11,
I believe that that investigation would proceed differently if it were to occur
• Because we coordinate much more closely and
regularly with the CIA and NSA, we would likely be aware of -- and involved in
-- the search for the two men much earlier in the process.
• Because the legal wall between intelligence and
law enforcement operations has been eliminated, FBI and CIA personnel would be
able to share all information about these two men and their possible travel to
the United States.
• Because the CIA now briefs me and my top
executives each morning and CIA and DHS officials attend my twice-daily threat
briefings, information about the threat posed by these two men could quickly
reach -- and get the attention of -- the highest levels of the FBI, and the
5. Intelligence Integration
The last crucial element of our transformation
has been to develop our strategic analytic capacity, while at the same time
integrating intelligence processes into all of our investigative operations. We
needed to dramatically expand our ability to convert our investigative
information into strategic intelligence that could guide our operations.
Initially we concentrated our efforts on the 9/11 investigation and the
Counterterrorism Division. We then developed step-by-step from there.
Our first step was to deploy 25 CIA analyst
detailees to the Counterterrorism Division, along with dozens of FBI analysts
from other divisions, to improve our ability to analyze the masses of data
generated in our post-9/11 investigations. We then established a formal analyst
training program and started to develop the permanent analyst position and
career track within the Counterterrorism Division.
The next step of this effort was to establish an
official Intelligence program to manage the intelligence process throughout the
Bureau. To oversee this effort, I appointed Maureen Baginski -- a 25-year
analyst and executive from the NSA -- to serve as the Bureau's first Executive
Assistant Director for Intelligence. Thanks to the efforts of Maureen and her
colleagues in the Office of Intelligence, we have made substantial progress
since her appointment last May.
• We have developed and are in the process of
executing Concepts of Operations governing all aspects of the intelligence
process -- from the identification of intelligence requirements to the
methodology for intelligence assessment to the drafting and formatting of
• We have established a Requirements and
Collection Management Unit to identify intelligence gaps and develop collection
strategies to fill those gaps.
• We have established Field Intelligence Groups
in the field offices, whose members review investigative information -- not only
for use in investigations in that field office -- but to disseminate it
throughout the Bureau and ultimately to our law enforcement and Intelligence
• We are accelerating the hiring and training of
analytical personnel, and developing career paths for analysts that are
commensurate with their importance to the mission of the FBI.
With these changes in place, the Intelligence
Program is established and growing. We are now turning to the last structural
step in our effort to build an intelligence capacity. Just last month, I
authorized new procedures governing the recruitment, training, career paths and
evaluation of our Special Agents -- all of which are focused on developing
intelligence expertise among our agent population.
The most far-reaching of these changes will be
the new agent career path, which will guarantee that agents get experience in
intelligence investigations and with intelligence processes. Under this plan,
new agents will spend an initial period familiarizing themselves with all
aspects of the Bureau, including intelligence collection and analysis, and then
go on to specialize in counterterrorism, intelligence or another operational
program. A central part of this initiative will be an Intelligence Officer
Certification program that will be available to both analysts and agents. That
program will be modeled after -- and have the same training and experience
requirements as -- the existing programs in the Intelligence Community.
Those are some of the highlights of our plan for
organizational reform. To get a sense for the pace and number of changes since
9/11, I would refer you to the time-line chart displayed on the easel. This
time-line plots out almost 50 significant new counterterrorism-related
capabilities or components we have established over the past 31 months. From the
founding of the Counterterrorism Watch Center on 9/11 to the directive
establishing the intelligence career track last month, this time line shows a
steady pace of change and innovation.
Many have asked whether all these changes have
succeeded in turning us into the agency we need to be. These are valid
To the question of whether the FBI now has a
fully-matured intelligence apparatus in place, the answer is that we have laid
the structural foundation, and are developing the intelligence personnel and the
capacities at a steady pace.
To the question of whether the FBI and its
partners now enjoy seamless coordination, the answer is that we are
communicating and integrating our operations like never before.
To the question of whether the FBI is making
progress, the answer is that we clearly are. While we still have much work to
do, the Bureau is moving steadily in the right direction.
Our efforts over the past 31 months have produced
meaningful and measurable results. Working with our partners here and abroad, we
have disrupted and detained supporters of Al Qaeda from Lackawanna, New York, to
Portland, Oregon; we have participated in the detention of much of Al Qaeda's
leadership; and we have seized millions of dollars in terrorist financing.
We have also seen measurable accomplishments
within the FBI. While it is always difficult to quantify the extent of
organizational change, it is worth spending a minute with the next chart on the
easel. Here, we have plotted a number of measures that reflect, in one way or
another, our evolution into a prevention-based intelligence agency. As you see,
it is a series of bar graphs showing numerical comparisons between September 11,
2001 and now. Starting on the left, you can see how we have increased the
numbers of agents, analysts and translators assigned to counterterrorism, as
well as the total personnel assigned to the 84 Joint Terrorism Task Forces
around the country. We have increased the number of counterterrorism agents from
1344 to 2835; counterterrorism analysts from 218 to 406; linguists from 555 to
1204; and JTTF personnel from 912 to 4249. The first two charts on the bottom
line show the increase in the number of intelligence bulletins and reports
issued since 9/11. We have gone from no intelligence bulletins in 2001 to 115
since 9/11; and from no intelligence reports to 2648. Finally, the last two
charts show an increase of 85% in the number of Foreign Intelligence
Surveillance Act warrants we have obtained and an increase of 91% in the number
of counterterrorism sources we have developed -- both important measures of our
increasing focus on developing intelligence against our terrorist adversaries.
Each of these increased measures reflects hard
work and dedication on the part of the men and women of the FBI. They have
embraced and implemented these counterterrorism and intelligence reforms, while
continuing to shoulder the responsibility to protect America. And, they have
carried out the pressing mandate to prevent further terrorism, while continuing
to work in strict fidelity to the Constitution and the rule of law.
The men and women of the FBI have served
admirably because they believe it is their duty to protect the citizens of the
United States, to secure freedom, and to preserve justice for all Americans. I
want to take this opportunity to thank them and their families for their
sacrifices and for their service to America.
I look forward to continuing our cooperation with
the Commission, and to reviewing the findings in your final report.
I would be happy to answer any questions you