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Director Announces Dale Watson's Retirement and Bruce Gebhardt's Elevation to Deputy Director

Washington, D.C. August 16, 2002
  • FBI National Press Office (202) 324-3691

FBI Director Robert S. Mueller, III today announced that Executive Assistant Director Dale L. Watson will retire from the FBI next month to accept a position in the private sector and Executive Assistant Director Bruce J. Gebhardt is being elevated to deputy director to oversee all investigative and operational matters. The elevation of Mr. Gebhardt is part of a series of initiatives to streamline operations, revitalize the information infrastructure, and refocus the priorities and investigative approaches of the FBI.

Mr. Watson is a 24-year veteran special agent who has served continually in counterterrorism and counterintelligence roles since 1982. In his current position, he has overseen the investigation of both the September 11 terrorist attacks and the deadly anthrax mailings, as well as the refocusing and re-engineering of the FBI's counterterrorism program.

Mr. Watson was the first assistant director for the Counterterrorism Division when it was created in 1999, with responsibility for overall direction and management of the international and domestic terrorism programs, and the National Infrastructure Protection Center. Prior to that he headed the counterterrorism branch of the National Security Division and earlier, the International Terrorism Section, as well as serving as the FBI's first representative to the CIA's Counterterrorism Center. In 1995, as second in charge of the Kansas City Field Division, he played a key role in the investigation into the Oklahoma City bombing. Later, he oversaw major international terrorism investigations such as the 1998 bombings of the U.S. Embassies in East Africa and the attack on the U.S.S. Cole in Yemen, and he was instrumental in the successful investigation into the tragic bombing of Khobar Towers.

"Dale Watson has served the FBI and the American public with distinction for more than 24 years," Director Mueller said. "He committed much of his career to counterterrorism and counterintelligence, and early on recognized the necessity of closer cooperation with the CIA and information sharing. Dale is highly respected throughout the intelligence community and among law enforcement agencies across this country, and with our partners around the world with whom he has worked closely to strengthen our working relationships," Mueller said.

"Dale has been a visionary, leading change in the FBI at a critical moment in our history. He will be greatly missed and we wish him continuing success," Mueller stated.

Director Mueller has appointed Bruce J. Gebhardt as deputy director of the FBI, the second highest ranking position in the FBI. As deputy director, Mr. Gebhardt is the principal assistant to the Director and assumes overall responsibility for the FBI in the Director's absence. As deputy director, he will directly oversee all FBI investigative, counterintelligence and prevention efforts.

"Bruce has 28 years of experience and a track record of success as an investigator, supervisor, program manager, and executive, which makes him ideally suited to oversee day-to-day operations," Mueller said. "He has worked closely with me on our reorganization and re-engineering efforts as we move forward to better prepare the FBI for the counterterrorism, counterintelligence and crime challenges we face."

Mr. Gebhardt currently serves as the executive assistant director for Criminal Investigations, with oversight for all criminal and cyber investigations. During his career, he has worked general criminal and organized crime matters in Denver and San Francisco, supervised drug cases in Los Angeles and at FBI Headquarters, and served two tours in the Inspection Division, the FBI's internal strategic planning and oversight organization. He was second in command of the Newark Field Division and special agent in charge in Phoenix and San Francisco. In these latter capacities, he had substantial white collar crime, counterintelligence and counterterrorism responsibilities.

Director Mueller stated, "The FBI's re-engineering, streamlining and information infrastructure revitalization efforts are being directed by experts we recruited from the private sector, people like Wilson Lowery and Darwin John. While Bruce is involved in these efforts, I have asked him to apply his considerable operational experience towards our counterintelligence, prevention, and cyber initiatives. He is a major asset in that regard, with 28 years of investigative experience, having successfully managed large FBI field offices."