The FBI is playing a much greater role in prosecuting the war on terror, increasingly taking over what was once the CIA’s purview, the author of a new book on the agency tells Newsmax.TV.
“This has been a decade of evolution for the FBI,” said Garrett Graff, author of “The Threat Matrix: The FBI at War in the Age of Global Terror.” “Ever since 9/11, we have seen an agency-wide response to counterterrorism.”
Although information that CIA interrogators obtained has been credited with helping lead the United States to Osama bin Laden, Graff said the FBI played a big part in the search for the terror kingpin, who was killed May 1 in a raid in Pakistan.
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The FBI began hunting bin Laden in the spring of 1996, and its efforts intensified after the attacks of Sept 11, 2011, said Graff, the editor-in-chief of Washingtonian magazine.
Since 9/11, the FBI under Director Robert Mueller shifted its attention from domestic law enforcement to counterterrorism and national security, Graff said in the exclusive Newsmax interview.
“The FBI has also been pushing extensively into the intelligence world,” he said.
The change began in the early 1990s, following the end of the Cold War. As defense and intelligence budgets were slashed, the CIA found itself facing dramatic cutbacks.
“The CIA saw its budget slashed. It closed a lot of offices overseas and the FBI really stepped in to fill the void,” Graff said.
Today, the FBI operates in about 80 countries overseas and is getting involved in some very far-reaching investigations, he said.
“Under Director Mueller, the FBI has worked its first investigation out of Antarctica, a cyber-crime case that ended up with the FBI arresting the suspects in Romania,” Graff said
Graff said he approved of President Barack Obama’s decision to turn interrogation of terror suspects over to the FBI, in place of the CIA.
“This [interrogating suspects] is something that the FBI has decades of experience in dealing with and FBI agents are trained to do from the earliest stages of their careers.”
But Graff said he worries that, as the FBI becomes increasingly focused on national security and international terrorism, it is becoming less able to handle some of its more tradition tasks: investigating white-collar crime, fraud, public corruption, bank robberies, and drug trafficking.
About 2,000 FBI agents have been pulled from the U.S.-Mexico border area in recent years, and there was a corresponding rise in drug-related violence in the area, Graff said.
The FBI also needs to home in more on cyber crime, he said.
“We’re under-investing in cyber crime right now in the same way that we as a government were under-investing in counterterrorism in the 1990s,” he said.
“Cyber crime, whether it’s organized crime, whether it’s terrorism or in fact a foreign government trying to hack our government, these things are obviously going to be a bigger and bigger thing going forward.”
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