Tags: FBI | Admits | 'We | Have | Much | Better | Job'

FBI Admits, 'We Have to Do a Much Better Job'

Wednesday, 29 May 2002 12:00 AM

"Where there are responsible changes to be made, we will make them," he said. "And, where there are mistakes to acknowledge, we will not shy away from doing so."

FBI Director Robert Mueller says his agency has already made some progress, but there is much more work to be done.

"We have to do a much better job at recruiting, managing, and training our workforce. We have to do a better job at collaborating with others. And, as critically important, we have to do a better job managing, analyzing, and sharing information," he said. "In essence, we need a different approach that puts prevention above all else."

That new approach will spring from a redefined priority list to help the FBI focus on its missions as defined by Mueller:

The FBI's new mission focus will result in the reassignment of 518 special agents. Of those, 400 will come from drug investigations, 59 from white-collar crime investigations and 59 from probes of violent crime.

The counterterrorism division will get the bulk of the agents, 480. The remaining 38 would be assigned to training duties and a new security division.

Additionally, several "near-term actions" will be taken to make the bureau more effective at preventing terrorist attacks, including:

"While we believe that these changes are relatively dramatic, and a dramatic departure from the past, in the end our culture must change with them," Mueller said.

"Because our focus is on preventing terrorist attacks, more so than in the past, we must be open to new ideas, to criticism from within and from without, and to admitting and learning from our mistakes," he said.

"I certainly do not have a monopoly on the right answers."

Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, issued a statement expressing skepticism about the plan.

"The FBI doesn't seem to be giving much up," Grassley said. "The number of agents reassigned to counterterrorism is relatively small. The total number is still less than a quarter of the FBI's force. And, the FBI still plans to be involved in all its traditional operations."

Instead, he suggests the FBI "let go of these areas" and leave them to the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, the Coast Guard, the Customs Service, the Secret Service, the Border Patrol "and others at the federal level, along with state and local law enforcement nationwide.

"The FBI has to concentrate on terrorism to get the job done," the senator said.

"Director Mueller needs to reorganize and reform the FBI, but he has to fix the root of the problem - the bureau's cultural problems with preventing crimes, putting image over substance and cooperating with other agencies.

"Making technology and intelligence analysis priorities are no-brainers, but a new organization chart alone won't work," Grassley said.

He said Mueller should take the advice of

As CNSNews.com previously reported, Rowley sounded an alarm about the alleged "20th hijacker," Zacarias Moussaoui, who was enrolled at a Minnesota flight training school. Requests for a warrant to search and tap his computer were denied.

"Field agents are the eyes and ears of the FBI, and supervisors in Washington need to assist them, not derail their investigations," Grassley said. "A super squad of agents flying around the country who don't have local contacts or even know their way around town is going to be a super mistake."

Mueller thanked Rowley for her letter criticizing the FBI headquarters' handling of the Moussaoui investigation.

"It is critically important that I hear criticisms of the organization including criticisms of me in order to improve the organization, to improve the FBI," he said.

The "flying squads" of terrorism experts would be dispatched to supplement the knowledge and relationships of local agents, Mueller explained, not to take over their terrorism investigations in the field.

Grassley agreed with Ashcroft and Mueller that the culture of the FBI must change.

"The reorganization effort must shift the FBI's mind set from arrest and prosecution to prevention." He warned that Mueller should expect resistance from his subordinates.

"His commitment to real reform and a new way of doing business from the top down will determine if this effort succeeds," Grassley said.

"The FBI is now in a position to implement fully operational changes that will substantially improve the FBI's ability to investigate and prevent terrorism," said House Judiciary Committee Chairman F. James Sensenbrenner Jr., R-Wisc.

He said the reforms reflected "a dramatic reallocation of resources to terrorism prevention without abandoning traditional law enforcement."

Sensenbrenner said he expressed concern about the FBI's computer technology over a year ago, calling it "inadequate to support the mission at that time.

"As a result of the reorienting of the FBI's mission since September 11, information technology improvement has become even more important," he said.

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Where there are responsible changes to be made, we will make them, he said. And, where there are mistakes to acknowledge, we will not shy away from doing so. FBI Director Robert Mueller says his agency has already made some progress, but there is much more work to be...
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Wednesday, 29 May 2002 12:00 AM
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