FBI's Views on Intelligence Reform
FBI's Views on Intelligence Reform
Statement of Robert S. Mueller, III,
Director, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Before the United States Senate
Committee, on Governmental Affairs, September 8, 2004.
FBI, Washington D.C., September 8, 2004.
Good morning, Madam Chairman, Senator Lieberman and Members
of the Committee. I appreciate the opportunity to be here today to provide the
FBI's views on intelligence reform. I would also like to express my gratitude
for the efforts of so many inside and outside of government, particularly the
9/11 Commission and this Committee, who have worked to ensure that our
national intelligence capability is postured for success against the
adversaries of the 21st Century. That overarching objective must drive all
efforts for reform.
To understand our views on intelligence community reform,
it is important to understand first how we in the FBI believe intelligence
should be managed and how it should be produced. We believe that the
management of intelligence should be centralized, but that its production
should be distributed. For the FBI, that means that the Office of Intelligence
provides guidance to ensure that we focus intelligence collection and
production on intelligence priorities and on filling gaps between what we know
and what we do not know. This centralized management overlays our headquarters
divisions and our field offices, which remain responsible for intelligence
collection, operations, analysis and reporting. The result of this approach is
that intelligence and operations are integrated -- with the users of
intelligence, not the producers, judging its value. These principles have
guided the development of our intelligence program at the FBI.
The FBI's Office of Intelligence manages intelligence
production based on requirements, apportions resources based on threats, and
sets standards for intelligence cadre training, source development and
validation, and collection tasking. The actual production of intelligence
occurs within our 56 field offices, 400 resident agencies, our four
operational headquarters divisions, and perhaps most importantly, by our
800,000 partners in state, local and tribal law enforcement. The Office of
Intelligence continually monitors performance through imbedded intelligence
elements in the field and headquarters and adjusts tasking and resources based
on nationally directed intelligence requirements. The authorities and
responsibilities of our Office of Intelligence allow it to carry out two broad
areas of responsibilities: management of the FBI intelligence component; and
direction to it to ensure that its activities are in keeping with the
priorities established by the President and the needs of the users of
Turning to the proposals for intelligence reform,
widespread agreement exists as to the creation of a National Intelligence
Director as the manager of intelligence production across the 15 Intelligence
Community components. The NID, however, should not be directly responsible for
the conduct of operations. The role of the NID should, instead, be to ensure
that appropriate activities and operations are conducted by the constituent
elements of the Intelligence Community.
Given the model above, we believe that the NID should have
a mechanism by which the principals of the National Security Council and the
Homeland Security Council and the Directors of the CIA, FBI and other relevant
Departments and agencies, are charged with ensuring the responsiveness to the
direction of the NID and managing implementation of that direction. These
individuals represent in large measure the users of intelligence and will
bring to the NID the views of the users as they set priorities and evaluate
intelligence community performance. In reality, the principals would delegate
that responsibility to a subordinate -- in our case, the FBI's Executive
Assistant Director for Intelligence.
Madam Chairman, the model I have outlined incorporates
three core principles for intelligence reform that we think this Committee
should consider as it seeks to enact legislation. These three principles are:
(1) providing analysts transparency into sourcing,
(2) understanding the value of operational chain of command, and
(3) protecting civil liberties.
Turning to the first principle, we believe it is important
that analysts be provided transparency into intelligence sources. Just as
Agents need to question the background, motivation and access of their
sources, analysts must also examine the credibility of sources who provide
intelligence information. FBI analysts do not blindly receive source
information then develop intelligence reports and threat assessments based on
that information. Instead, our analysts have transparency to our sources and
the result is a high quality intelligence product.
Historically, individual FBI Agents would collect
information, analyze that information in the context of their particular case,
and then use that analysis to guide their investigation. But the FBI, as an
institution, had not elevated that analytical process above the individual
case or investigation to an overall effort to analyze intelligence and
strategically direct intelligence collection against threats across all of our
programs. Today, we have done so and, I believe, done so successfully. Not
only does the FBI remain among the best collectors of information in the
world, we now have the enhanced capacity to exploit that information for its
intelligence value. Ensuring that our analysts, not just our Agents, have
access to information about our sources plays an important role in the
development of thorough and reliable intelligence products.
In the ongoing debate regarding intelligence reform, some
have suggested that a new entity composed of analysts be created, as well as a
separate entity for the intelligence collectors. We believe that creating such
"stovepipes" would be a step backward in the progress we have made since 9/11.
Our success has been enhanced by co-locating our analysts with those who must
act on the intelligence. The physical and logistical proximity of the analysts
to the collectors results in increased transparency for the analysts which, in
turn, results in better analysis.
The second core principle to consider in reforming the
intelligence community is the value of the operational chain of command. The
9/11 Commission report recommended the establishment of a national
counterterrorism center as the logical next step to further enhance the
cooperation between intelligence, national security, and law enforcement
agencies that was begun by the Terrorist Threat Integration Center (TTIC). As
you know, the President recently issued an Executive Order establishing the
National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC). Among the provisions of the Executive
Order is the directive that the NCTC assign strategic operational
responsibilities to lead agencies for counterterrorism activities that are
consistent with the law. The Executive Order also explicitly states: "The
Center shall not direct the execution of operations." This directive, which
comports with the recommendation of the 9/11 Commission, recognizes the
importance of leaving operational control in the hands of the agencies.
At least one of the pending legislative proposals for
intelligence reform would transfer the Counterterrorism and
Counterintelligence Divisions out of the FBI and into a new entity. We believe
that such a proposal fails to recognize the fact that most of the FBI's
investigative work is accomplished by its 56 field offices and 400 satellite
offices located throughout the country. An interdependent relationship exists
between the FBI's Headquarters Divisions and our geographically dispersed
field offices both in terms of operational coordination of investigations and
the routine exchange of personnel. This interdependent relationship and chain
of command between the field offices and headquarters divisions cannot be
disrupted and remain effective.
The FBI's components, particularly the Counterterrorism and
Counterintelligence Divisions, are not distinct and severable entities. Rather,
they are fluid combinations of a variety of personnel. They include long-term
professional employees, such as analysts, who spend decades developing a
subject area expertise; mid-career field agents serving two or three years
tours of duty to expand or hone their counterterrorism or counterintelligence
experience before returning to management positions in field offices; and
senior FBI executives who have proven themselves in leadership roles in the
field or other headquarters components.
If the operational divisions are removed from FBI
Headquarters, as some have proposed, a large portion of the FBI's
counterterrorism and counterintelligence program will remain within the FBI,
in the form of counterterrorism and counterintelligence squads and task forces
in field offices, as well as designated counterterrorism and
counterintelligence agents in our satellite offices. Separating our
counterterrorism and counterintelligence leaders from the information
collectors and investigators would result in less effective coordination and a
less safe America.
In addition, it is important to understand that the FBI's
intelligence capabilities are enterprise-wide. Intelligence is integrated into
all of the Bureau's investigations, not just counterterrorism and
counterintelligence. Some of the reform proposals that would carve out sectors
of the FBI fail to take into account that our counterterrorism and
counterintelligence efforts benefit enormously from the intelligence garnered
through our criminal investigations, our cyber crime efforts, the work of the
FBI Laboratory, and our other programs. Altering the operational chain of
command for any FBI program would impair the integration of intelligence that
has proven effective in our national security efforts.
The third and, perhaps most important core principle, is
the need to protect civil liberties. As former DCI George Tenet stated in a
hearing earlier this year, the way the CIA conducts operations overseas is
very different than the way the FBI conducts operations with our own citizens
at home. Concentrating domestic and international counterterrorism operations
in one organization represents a serious risk to American civil liberties. It
is difficult to expect an agent trained in conducting operations overseas to
fully appreciate the necessary legal constraints placed on operations
conducted within the United States.
Let me turn to the words of the Commission's report, which
stated, "The FBI does need to be able to direct its thousands of agents and
other employees to collect intelligence in America's cities and towns–interviewing
informants, conducting surveillance and searches, tracking individuals,
working collaboratively with local authorities, and doing so with meticulous
attention to detail and compliance with the law. The FBI's job in the streets
of the United States would thus be a domestic equivalent, operating under the
U.S. Constitution and quite different laws and rules, to the job of the CIA's
operations officers abroad."
The legal limitations, the oversight mechanisms and
self-regulatory practices of the Bureau effectively ensure that our operations
are carried out within Constitutional and statutory parameters. A number of
outside entities, including the Government Accountability Office and the
Department of Justice Office of Inspector General, have studied our operations
since 9/11 and have found that we have conducted them with full regard for
civil liberties. Moreover, just last month the President issued an Executive
Order creating the President's Board on Safeguarding Americans' Civil
Liberties, which will be launched this month. Such a board was recommended by
the 9/11 Commission and will include FBI participation.
Recognizing the "significant progress" the FBI has made in the past three
years, the 9/11 Commission recommended that counterterrorism intelligence
collection in the United States remain with the Bureau. We are proud of that
progress, about which I have testified on numerous occasions since 9/11. Today,
I would like to conclude by giving you a brief update on some of our most
• We are moving forward with the creation of an FBI Directorate of
Intelligence – a "service-within-a-service" – as recommended by the
Commission and some Members of Congress.
• We have established Field Intelligence Groups, or FIGS, in each FBI field
office to integrate analysts, Agents, linguists, and surveillance personnel
in the field to bring a dedicated team focus to intelligence operations.
• We have set unified standards, policies, and training for intelligence
analysts. As part of a new recruiting program, veteran analysts are
attending events at colleges and universities throughout the country, and we
are offering hiring bonuses to analysts for the first time in FBI history.
• Since FY 2002, 264 analysts have graduated from the College of Analytic
Studies' six-week Basic Intelligence Analyst Course. More than 650 field and
headquarters analysts have attended specialty courses on a variety of
analytical topics. Nearly 1,400 field and headquarters employees have
attended specialized counterterrorism courses offered in conjunction with
the CIA University, and more than 1,000 New Agent Trainees have received a
two-hour instructional block on intelligence.
• We are establishing an Intelligence Officer certification program for
Agents, Analysts, Surveillance Specialists and Language Analysts. We are
also in the process of changing the criteria on which Agents are evaluated
to place more emphasis on intelligence-related functions. Once established,
Intelligence Officer certification will be a pre-requisite for advancement,
thus ensuring that all FBI senior managers will be fully trained and
experienced intelligence officers.
• We are working to incorporate elements of our basic intelligence training
course into the New Agents Class curriculum. We expect that work to be
completed this month. A key element of this concept is that agents in New
Agents Training and analysts in the College of Analytic Studies will conduct
joint training exercises in intelligence tradecraft. The first offerings to
contain these joint exercises are expected in December of this year.
• In March, we established a career path in which new Special Agents are
initially assigned to a small field office and exposed to a wide range of
field experiences. After approximately three years, agents will be
transferred to a large field office where they will specialize in one of
four program areas: Intelligence, Counterterrorism/ Counterintelligence,
Cyber, or Criminal, and will receive advanced training tailored to their
area of specialization. In our Special Agent hiring, we have changed the
list of "critical skills" we are seeking in candidates to include
intelligence experience and expertise, foreign languages, and technology.
• Our language specialists are critical to our intelligence cadre as well.
The FBI's approximately 1,200 language specialists are stationed across 52
field offices and headquarters, and are now connected via secure networks
that allow language specialists in one FBI office to work on projects for
any other office. Since the beginning of FY 2001, the FBI has hired nearly
700 new linguists out of a pool of 30,000 applicants. In addition, the FBI
formed a Language Services Translation Center to act as a command and
control center to coordinate translator assignments and maximize its
capacity to render immediate translation assistance.
• We have placed reports officers in our Joint Terrorism Task Forces (JTTFs)
to ensure vital information is flowing to those who need it. Since 9/11, we
have expanded the total number of JTTFs from 34 to 100.
• We have issued the first-ever FBI requirements and collection tasking
documents. These documents are fully aligned with the DCI's National
Intelligence Priorities Framework and we have published unclassified
versions for our partners in state, local, and tribal law enforcement.
• We have created a collection capabilities database that tells us what
sources we can bring to bear on intelligence issues across the FBI.
• And, this year, we are on course to triple the volume of intelligence
reporting that we disseminate to the intelligence community.
Madam Chairman, the FBI's combined mission as an
intelligence, counterterrorism, and law enforcement agency gives us the
singular ability to exploit the connections between terrorism and criminal
activity. Now that the USA PATRIOT Act has removed the wall between
intelligence and law enforcement investigations, the FBI has a unique capacity
to handle both the criminal aspects and intelligence gathering opportunities
presented by any terrorism case, giving us a full range of investigative tools.
We are concerned that some pending proposals would erect new walls between our
law enforcement and intelligence missions. We also urge Congress to renew all
provisions of the PATRIOT ACT -- because no matter how the organizational
charts on drawn, we will continue to need these vital tools to prevent acts of
terrorism against the American people.
Over the past three years, the FBI has made great strides
yet we acknowledge that much work remains to be done. We have a plan in place
to get where we need to be and we have the hard-working, dedicated men and
women of the FBI to take us there.
Madam Chairman, I want to thank you and the members of this Committee for your
support and advice. I look forward to working with you as you develop
legislation to strengthen our intelligence apparatus and better ensure the
protection of the American people. I welcome any suggestions you have for
improving our counterterrorism efforts and strengthening our nation's security.
Thank you again for the opportunity to appear before you today. I am happy to
answer any questions you may have.