Opening Statement by
FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III


Homeland Security and the Intelligence Community

Before the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee

June 27, 2002

Thank you, Chairman Lieberman and Senator Thompson, and other members of the committee -- thank you for having us here today. The urgency with which this committee is addressing the critically -- the critically important issue of homeland security is appreciated by all of us who are engaged in this war against terrorism.

September 11th has transformed the executive branch but most particularly the FBI. Understanding this basic fact is essential in evaluating how the FBI fits into the president's proposal to establish a department of homeland -- of homeland security, and what we will provide to ensure that this new department gets from the FBI what it needs to succeed. Now, that is our obligation. Or, to put it more bluntly, the FBI will provide homeland security the access, the participation, and the intelligence necessary for this new department to achieve its mission.

Now let me back up a little bit and go to the immediate aftermath of September 11th. We began looking -- or taking a hard look at ourselves in the FBI to see how we in the FBI could become more collaborative, more flexible, and more agile. Even before September 11th, we knew we had to fix our antiquated information infrastructure, and also unbridle our agents from overly burdensome bureaucracy.

Much has changed since then, and much more is in the offing. And while I'll be glad to discuss the details of what we are about, our most basic changes complement the homeland security proposal in very fundamental ways. Simply put, our focus is now one of prevention. And this simple notion reflects itself in new priorities, in different resource deployments, in a different structure, different hiring and training, different business practices, and a substantially different information architecture. And more importantly, it is reflected in how we collect, analyze and share information.

So, for example, in the aftermath of the attacks of September 11th, more than half our agents were working on identifying the individual attackers, their international sponsors, and along with other agencies, taking steps to prevent the next attack. Today we are at double the amount of our pre-9/11 commitment, but regardless of what that permanent number ultimately may be, what is important is that we will apply to prevention whatever level of resources -- indeed, the entire agency if necessary -- to address the threats at hand. And we will do so in the context of the current multi-agency effort.

In addition to committing manpower, 9/11 has triggered a wide range of organizational and operational changes within the bureau. The three I would like to note, the first of which is the expansion of our joint terrorism task forces throughout the country. Second is the creation of a national joint terrorism task force in Washington, D.C., and the third area that I'd like to discuss is the substantial increases in our analytical capacity. All three are designed to promote better information sharing, and will directly complement and support the new department.

The joint terrorism tasks forces are chaired in 56 regions of the country by the FBI, and those task forces include members of other federal agencies, such as INS, Customs, AFT, and CIA, as well as state and local law enforcement. Homeland security would be included as well. The importance of these task forces is that they have transformed a federal counter-terrorism effort into a national effort, creating a force multiplier effect, and indeed providing effective realtime information sharing among the participants.

Now, the national complement to these local or regional task forces is to be the National Joint Terrorism Task Force. The National Joint Terrorism Task Force will bring a needed national perspective and focus to the local task forces, and it will consist of both the FBI as well as eight other agency detailees, and, of course, we'll include the new homeland security department. The task force will complement the FBI's and the new department's analytical efforts and the inclusion of other agencies allows for the realtime sharing of information at the national levels with all of those participating agencies.

On the analytical side -- and to be blunt, pre-9/11, our analyst numbers were woefully inadequate. The effect not only was inadequate operational support, but also an inability to finish and timely disseminate intelligence. And thanks to considerable help from George and the substantial resources that Congress is providing, our ability to identify, analyze and finish and share intelligence is becoming much improved. This will very directly help homeland security and the CIA, but equally important, it will give us the actionable intelligence we need to support our own investigations.

Of equal importance to the FBI putting its own operational house in order is our relationship with the CIA. Even before 9/11, it was much better than it had been five years ago. But since 9/11, it is better still. And although our challenge is to continually improve, particularly in regard to information sharing. As you may know, George and I jointly brief the president each morning on pending terrorist threats. And the positive consequences of a more robust relationship between us are found in FBI agents working at Langley and CIA officers at FBI headquarters, as George has already explained. We produce a daily threat matrix seven days a week, jointly, and we exchange briefing material each day -- all to ensure that we are working off a common knowledge base. And I'll also say that CIA officers have joined us in several of our joint terrorism task forces around the country, and that is going to increase. And I would expect them to participate, quite obviously, in the National Joint Terrorism Task Force. Finally, our legal attaches overseas are working ever more closely with their CIA counterparts in ways that was unimaginable before September 11th.

Now, I spent a few moments on the FBI's post-9/11 operational characteristics and our relationship with the CIA for a purpose. The experience -- my experience, I should say, since 9/11, has only served to cement in my mind the need for a new department of homeland security. And although the FBI and the CIA are operating at higher levels of operational efficiency and connectivity, there still remains a need for an agency that is committed to improving, and in some case building from scratch a defensive infrastructure for American and its borders.

Given the daunting challenge that will face homeland security, the question naturally arises as to what intelligence capability the new department requires. The FBI's view on this matter is quite simple -- whatever it needs to properly do its job. And it seems the president's formulation in his proposal strikes us as the proper formulation. The new department, as a matter of course, will receive all FBI finished intelligence analysis and such raw intelligence as the president deems that it needs. Experience also tells me that the participation of homeland security on joint terrorism task forces, the National Joint Terrorism Task Force, and with us at FBI headquarters will prove to be as valuable as anything else we do to ensuring a common knowledge base.

Further, the proposal complements the reorganization we are well along in implementing at the FBI and vice versa. So, for example, as part of a changing culture, a senior CIA official participates in my daily case and threat briefings, and CIA officials and analysts are included throughout the FBI's counterterrorism structure. And the reverse is likewise true. We have, as George pointed out, a number of agents, some in top positions, over at the CIA. This is to ensure that the CIA sees what we see and to ensure all information gets acted upon swiftly, and I would expect Homeland Security to be equally integrated and equally participatory.

Discussions of the FBI's relationship with Homeland Security have also raised the issue of whether the Counterterrorism Division of the FBI should be transferred to the new department. And for the reasons laid out more extensively in my statement, my view is no, that that would not be a wise idea. At the very least, such a move at this critical moment would disrupt our ongoing battle against terrorism and, as we all know, al Qaeda is active both abroad and at home.

The FBI's counterterrorism team, intertwined with and supported by the rest of the FBI and in concert with our colleagues in the CIA, has a substantial number of open ongoing counterterrorism cases that we are working on on a daily basis. And I do believe it would be a mistake to assume that our counterterrorism efforts are in some way discrete from all other criminal and counterterrorism and counterintelligence work that we do.

Often, plots are disrupted by employing every available federal criminal statute, such as credit card fraud, smuggling, health care fraud, and the like, and it would be even harder to separate that function from our criminal and counterintelligence informant base, should there be a shift of responsibility.

And further, even with our focus on prevention, much within our counterterrorism effort will always be somewhat criminal in nature, and it's supported by FBI functions such as its forensics laboratory, surveillance capabilities, technical capabilities, 56 major field offices, 400 regional offices and 44 offices overseas, and all the information collection and information exploitation that these represent.

And we should not forget the FBI's working relationships with over 16,000 police departments and law enforcement agencies, not only in the United States but also around the world.

And lastly on this point, I think it perhaps prudent to remember our history and the fact that our domestic intelligence collection must be grounded in an agency that is steeped in the constitutional protections afforded our citizens, and perhaps also it is important to note that it is under the watchful umbrella of the Department of Justice.

In sum, while the fear is that this new department will not get the information it needs, I believe we are doing that which will ensure that it does, and in ways that reflect the practical realities of information collection and law enforcement. Old rivalries and outdated equities (sic) went by the wayside on 9/11. I believe what we are doing will work, reflects the most practical arrangement, and I have every expectation that the president and Congress will monitor this closely to ensure that it accomplishes that which it is set out to do.

Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman, for the opportunity to make this statement.