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  • Robert S. Mueller, III
  • Director
  • Federal Bureau of Investigation
  • 38th Annual FBINAA Conference and Exposition
  • Baltimore, Maryland
  • July 16, 2002

Good afternoon! Thanks, Walt, and thank you all for having me. It's great to be able to spend some time with you today talking about our relationships and the new reality of terrorism that we're all dealing with today.

Let me say at the outset how much I respect and appreciate the National Academy program and how much I respect and appreciate all of you and your leadership. In my mind, you have done a great service to the law enforcement community by coming together in the FBI National Academy Associates. By staying connected, by continuing to train together, by building relationships with fellow graduates around the world, you have multiplied the success of the National Academy many times over. And to your credit, you have made the FBINAA one of the most positive and influential forces in law enforcement. On behalf of the men and women of the FBI, and on behalf of everyone in our profession, I thank and congratulate you all.

It's no surprise to me that you are focused on terrorism this week. You have been leaders for years, and I appreciate your tackling what has become the most dominant issue on all of our plates. In many ways, this new specter of terror is the toughest challenge we have ever faced. Al Qaeda is the most elusive and the most openly hostile terrorist network to ever come after us. Their terrorists are willing to go to virtually any length to destroy us -- whether it's suicide attacks or "dirty" bombs. They are studying our every weakness. And they have the means, the motivation, and the money to strike us at any time.

There is no question, it's a new era for law enforcement. We simply cannot protect a seemingly endless number of targets here and overseas without working together. We simply cannot take out an international terrorist network like al Qaeda, one that has put down roots in one out of four countries, without working together. To win this fight, we have got to link up operationally in ways we have never done before. Sitting back and waiting for the next attack to take place is simply not an option for the FBI or for any of us. We have to work together as seamlessly as we can. We have to be true partners.

We in the FBI understand that more than ever. We've had productive relationships with you and your colleagues for many years, but we have not always done the best job of sharing information. I am here today, though, to tell you that we are committed to changing and that we are changing.

It began shortly after the events of September 11. When concerns began to surface, we sat down to talk with you and leaders throughout law enforcement. You told us that you wanted to be full partners in the war on terror. You asked that we give you the full benefit of our intelligence and information so that you could better protect your communities. And you said you wanted every relationship with the FBI to be open and constructive and cooperative.

We heard you. And we have made a series of changes.

I put out the word to our Special Agents in Charge to make building and maintaining relationships with you a priority. I asked them to fold you and your colleagues into the fight against terror at every turn. And they have responded.

Then, we put together an advisory group made up of key representatives throughout law enforcement, one that comes together regularly to air issues and to find solutions. Walt Corter is a member of that board, and we very much appreciate his participation.

In recent years, our Joint Terrorism Task Forces have been critical to sharing information and fighting terrorism together. In my mind, having all of us sit together in one room -- literally shoulder-to-shoulder -- is one of the best ways we have of developing the kind of abiding relationships that carry on for years. That is why, shortly after the attacks, I asked every FBI office that didn't have a task force to get one up and running in short order. Today, 47 out of 56 field offices have fully operational task forces. We expect the rest to be in place by year's end.

In December, as part of our reorganization, we also announced that we were creating two posts specifically devoted to building law enforcement relationships. And we filled those jobs with two professionals with extensive police experience and strong reputations in your ranks.

One is Kathleen McChesney, who is Executive Assistant Director for Law Enforcement Services, one of the four major branches in our new structure. Many of you know her, and she is on point to build relationships nationally and internationally. She is also responsible for many of the programs that you have come to rely upon, from training to criminal justice services to laboratory support. Kathleen is meeting with our law enforcement partners in Germany today.

Reporting to Kathleen is an Assistant Director of a new office for Law Enforcement Coordination. As many of you know, we recently selected former High Point Police Chief Louis Quijas for this job. Louis has been here with you this week and is here today. His responsibility is to be your voice in the Bureau -- to take your pulse, to find out what you need, and then to let us know so we can act on it. He is also there when we in the FBI develop investigative strategies, ensuring that we incorporate the capabilities of the people in this room as well as our other counterparts. Louis has already put together a strategic plan for his office, and I know he will be sharing it with you in the days and weeks to come. And by the way, Louis wanted me to tell you that he is a graduate of the 168th session of the National Academy.

We in the FBI are also tackling full force the information-sharing issue and its many different pieces. We've made some progress. We have appointed Bill Eubanks, the former SAC in St. Louis, to lead a National Intel Sharing Program that is working to get you the information you need to do your jobs.

Some areas, though, are going to take time to fix. For example, we simply won't be able to solve all our technology problems overnight. We've got some cutting edge technologies when it comes to our ability to analyze DNA evidence, or when it comes to using sniffers to go up the line on a denial of service attack by some hacker. But our own computer systems -- and our own abilities to manage and share information -- are far behind where they need to be. Congress has given us nearly a half-billion dollars to get up to speed. And I expect over the next two or three years our infrastructure will dramatically improve. And when it does, it will in turn dramatically improve our ability to share information with you and your colleagues.

The events of September 11 have also made it painfully clear that our ability to analyze and then share intelligence is not where it needs to be. We've established an Office of Intelligence to help us improve. It will be headed by a respected, long-standing member of the CIA, who will bring with him approximately 25 analysts to help us analyze the river of information that flows into the FBI every day and put it out to all of you in a form that strips it of its sources and methods but gives you the texture you need to do your jobs.

One of the issues that I know is on your mind -- and is certainly on my mind -- is how we communicate threat warnings and advisories. Let me say, I understand your frustration with these alerts, with both the content and how fast they get to you. I know how disconcerting it is to hear threat warnings for the first time on CNN. Right now, we have a number of communications capabilities as a law enforcement community. We have NLETS. We have RISS Net. We have LEO. But in my mind, not one of them alone is good enough to get the job done. And one of the challenges we have is to develop together a means of communicating with each other that is better than the combination of the three or four mechanisms that are out there today. I assure you, we are working on it as quickly as we can.

Overall, I will say that I am pleased with the way the men and women of the FBI are responding to the new call for partnerships. Many of you have told me that they are reaching out more and more, that they are getting you the information you need and supporting you better all around. We've still got a long ways to go. But our commitment is strong and I think we're heading in the right direction.

As we move forward, I want to ask for your support. Because the fact is, the FBINAA is important to us. We need you. We want to work with you. And we realize that you are in a position as leaders to really make a difference.

As you know, the FBI is in a state of transformation today. We needed change before September 11, and we need it more now. Prevention of terrorist attacks is by far and away our most urgent priority, and that means we have to refocus and reassign our resources.

We are proposing to Congress to shift 480 FBI Agents to prevention. Of the 480 Agents, approximately 400 will be moved from narcotics investigations. The rest will come from violent crime and lesser white collar crime.

This is an important decision for us, and we're well aware of the burden it puts on you here in United States. We're going to continue working with you and supporting you, but we do need you to backfill for us in some of these cases.

It's my expectation that we will do fewer narcotics investigations. We will still play a role in the various task forces, but where we had 10 or 15 Agents on a given task force, we may cut back to five or ten. I expect that where there is an overlap in the investigations of cartels, we will defer to the DEA. But in the interim, assuming our proposal is approved, we will not pull Agents off key narcotics cases.

I expect that we will continue to support you on complex cross-county bank robberies, but we may do fewer one note jobs. Having spent some time as a homicide prosecutor, my own belief is that law enforcement must address violent crime as a substantial priority. And to the extent that we in the FBI can bring something special to the table, we will continue to participate on violent crime task forces, but perhaps with fewer Special Agents. We will also continue our work in white collar crime, but we may raise the dollar limits of cases we investigate.

Let me say, these are general guidelines and not hard and fast rules. I want to give our Special Agents in Charge a great deal of flexibility. And I want to assure you that you that we will not compromise our longstanding relationships with you as we move through this process.

On a broader level, we also need your help and your leadership in building partnerships throughout the law enforcement community. In many ways, we are fortunate to have an organization like the FBINAA at a time like this. You know the value of partnerships. You have each spent ten weeks at Quantico building friendships with your colleagues, and you have extended your reach through this organization. Within your agencies and within the broader law enforcement community, you have the respect and the influence to spread the message of cooperation, to open doors, and to facilitate the kind of information sharing we all need and want. You have the expertise and the leadership skills to help us find innovative ways to link up our operations and our systems. In short, you have what it takes to lead in this new era of law enforcement cooperation.

Let me close with a personal word of thanks. Like many of you, I have been in this profession for many years. But I have never seen the day-to-day stresses and strains higher than they are today. Often, it feels like we are walking headlong into the unknown -- trying to change and adapt even as we move full steam ahead, knowing full well that we really can't afford to miss a step along the way. We have come through a time of great grief, a time when we lost many of our colleagues -- including two graduates of the National Academy -- in just a few short hours.

The hazards of our profession are real. The stresses are real. And I want to salute all of you here today, because you are our leaders. You are the ones who are shouldering much of the burden. You are the ones who are going to help steer us through these tough times. You are the ones who are going to build the partnerships and the programs that will define our future.

On behalf of the men and women of the FBI, I pledge to you our full cooperation and our full support. You are not only our partners and colleagues, you are our friends and part of the FBI family. And we are honored to serve alongside you.

Thanks so much for all you do, and God bless.

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