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  • Thomas Carey
  • Assistant Special Agent in Charge, Washington Field Office, FBI
  • Federal Bureau of Investigation
  • Before the United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary
  • Washington, DC
  • November 13, 2001

Good morning Mr. Chairman and members of the committee. My name is Tom Carey, Inspector in Charge of the FBI's anthrax investigation. I have served in the FBI as a special agent since 1983, after having served ten years as a police officer with Lewiston Police Department in Lewiston, Maine. After joining the FBI, I investigated federal crimes in Boston, Massachusetts, Fargo, North Dakota, and Washington, D.C. I served as a supervisory special agent at FBI headquarters, Springfield and Boston, Massachusetts. I am currently the Assistant Special Agent in Charge of the FBI's Washington field office responsible for counterterrorism. I have overseen and directed Washington field office's participation in the investigation of terrorist acts at the World Trade Towers and the Pentagon. In my thirty years of law enforcement experience, as a police officer and an FBI agent, I have worked in close partnership with hundreds of law enforcement officers throughout the United States.

I am keenly aware of the concerns of law enforcement officials regarding their need for information to help them do their jobs safely, efficiently and completely. FBI Director Robert S. Mueller is committed to making improvements in the way that the FBI coordinates investigations with, and communicates information to, our law enforcement partners at the state and local levels. We actively solicit the guidance and input of the law enforcement community, as the FBI has done in the past, through successful endeavors such as interagency terrorism working groups, joint terrorism task forces (JTTFS), NCIC and IAFIS. Our future communicative efforts will include a shared web based terrorism database and bulletin board. We will also continue existing efforts to communicate information through Law Enforcement Online (LEO), conference calls, citizens academies, and meetings between FBI Special Agents in Charge (SACs) and their state and local counterparts. Furthermore, the FBI will continue to honor requests by members of congress to participate in town hall meetings.

Presidential Decision Directive (PDD-39) mandates that the FBI coordinate the efforts of law enforcement agencies to ensure a coordinated and vigorous response to terrorist acts. PDD-62 reaffirms the FBI as the lead federal agency in both preventing terrorist attacks and investigating those attacks when they occur within the United States, in international waters (not involving the flag vessel of a foreign country), or against U.S. persons and establishments overseas.

In order to adequately respond to the potential terrorist threat, the FBI and other members of the law enforcement community coordinate many terrorist-related matters via established counterterrorism working groups, joint terrorism task forces (JTTFs) and regional terrorism task forces (RTTFS).

The FBI has had terrorism task forces in place for over 20 years. The first formal JTTF was established in New York City, in 1980. Because of the significant threat of terrorism in the United States, the FBI mandated that all field offices establish an interagency counterterrorism working group and/or JTTF. The JTTF concept has proven to be the most successful way to address terrorism investigations through an interagency approach involving the law enforcement and public safety community. These task forces broaden the interagency liaison and communications, eliminating a duplication of effort, and combines federal state and local law enforcement resources in the fight against terrorism.

The counterterrorism successes achieved, thus far, by the JTTFs are due, in part, to the promotion of an atmosphere of enhanced coordination or "immediate transparency" between the FBI and other law enforcement members. The presence of FBI and other investigators representing various local, state and federal agencies on these task forces both encourages and ensures the timely and continued sharing of valuable intelligence-related information between the participating agencies. All JTTF members are required to have top secret clearances, affording them access to information that is developed throughout the course of an investigation.

There are currently 36 JTTFs in operation, which reflects an increase of 25 task forces since 1996, to which more than 620 FBI special agents are assigned, and approximately 584 full-time and part-time officers from other federal, state and local agencies are assigned. Full-time federal participants in the JTTF program include the Immigration and Naturalization Service; U.S. Secret Service; Naval Criminal Investigative Service; U.S. Marshals Service; U.S. Customs Service; Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms; U.S. Border Patrol; U.S. Department of State/Diplomatic Security Service; Postal Inspection Service; Internal Revenue Service; Department of Interior's Bureau of Land Management; Air Force Office of Special Investigations; U.S. Park Police; Federal Protective Service; Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration; and the Defense Criminal Investigative Service.

In addition to the JTTFs, the RTTF initiative serves as a viable means of accomplishing the benefits associated with information sharing and training for law enforcement officials in a particular region. FBI special agents assigned to counterterrorism matters meet with their federal, state and local counterparts in the region on a semiannual basis for training, discussion of investigations, and to share intelligence. The design of this non-traditional terrorism task force provides the necessary mechanism and structure to direct counterterrorism resources toward localized terrorism problems within the United States. There are currently six RTTFs in existence: the inland northwest RTTF, the south central RTTF, the southeastern RTTF, and the northeast border RTTF, the deep south RTTF, and the southwest RTTF. The FBI's JTTFs and RTTFs also coordinate with the anti-terrorism task force recently created by the Attorney General working together the ATTF, JTTF, and RTTFs ensure all relevant agencies' coordination and information sharing is efficient and comprehensive.

Through the FBI's command center, known as the Strategic Information and Operations Center, or SIOC, the FBI is coordinating every aspect of the investigation into the terrorist attacks of September 11. The SIOC is the nerve center for the cooperation and coordination of every aspect of this investigation by and between FBI headquarters, our 56 field offices, and 32 other government agencies present in the command center.

The SIOC currently operates with more than 500 personnel representing these 32 different agencies and their components. Criminal Division lawyers from the Department of Justice are also working in SIOC both to facilitate obtaining warrants and to continuously evaluate evidence.

The FBI recognizes that each agency represented in SIOC plays a critical role in this investigation. We are all working side by side in the command center setting investigative leads, responding to inquiries, and tracking the hijackers' activities and contacts prior to September 11th. We have enlisted the professional assistance of our state and local law enforcement partners across the nation in two ways: first, through our 35 joint terrorism task forces and regional task forces where federal, state and local law enforcement agencies partner together on terrorism matters; and, second, through the electronic dissemination of threat warnings and law enforcement intelligence to police agencies across the nation. In this way, we reach approximately 18,000 law enforcement agencies instantly.

On September 1, 2001, the FBI established a web based terrorism database to provide a communicative network for law enforcement components located in Utah, Idaho, Montana, and Washington states to share terrorism information in anticipation of the 2002 winter Olympic games. The success of the FBI's counterterrorism program, rests in its ability to share investigative and intelligence information with law enforcement nationwide. The system being utilized by the inland northwest RTTF is the Regional Information Sharing System (RISS).

RISS is an innovative network, similar to Law Enforcement Online (LEO), funded by the Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Assistance. RISS has six regional networks which link federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies from neighboring states into a regional collaborative network. The regional network servicing the inland northwest RTTF is called the Rocky Mountain Information Network (RMIN). RMIN is headquartered in Phoenix, Arizona, and covers Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, Wyoming, and Canada. The other five established regions of the United States, can be accessed by RMIN users through RISS. Future efforts will involve establishing a web based bulletin board for all task forces nationwide. This will allow each task force to publish terrorism information relevant to their territory. The system is still in the developmental stage.

The FBI's strategic plan for the JTTF program is to ensure that each of the FBI's 56 field offices either has a JTTF and/or coverage through an RTTF. The creation of these new JTTFs will result in an expanded level of interaction and cooperation between the FBI and the law enforcement and public safety community throughout the nation, enhancing the flow of information between the participating agencies. Additionally, field offices will have an enhanced capacity to engage in more focused, integrated approaches to combating terrorism.

Proposed FY 2002 expansion includes establishing JTTFs in eight field offices. Proposals are currently being drafted for establishing JTTFs in Baltimore, Honolulu, Milwaukee, Norfolk, Omaha, St. Louis, Kansas City, and Little Rock.

The FBI is faced with a formidable task that experience has shown is best achieved through the utilization of the vast resources and personnel dedicated to task forces. Moreover, given the persistent and growing threat posed by international terrorists, the U.S. government's counterterrorism interests will best be served by the continued and, as appropriate, enhanced presence of other law enforcement and intelligence entities, on these task forces.

I now want to comment on how deeply committed the FBI is to working with all levels of law enforcement to ensure the safety and security of our nation, now and in the future. On October 24, 2001, in his remarks before the United States Conference of Mayors, and again on October 29, before the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) conference in Toronto, Canada, Director Mueller spoke of this commitment. A copy of Director Mueller's remarks to the IACP is attached at the conclusion of my prepared statement. Speaking specifically on the FBI's response in regard to the terrorist attacks of September 11th, Director Mueller mentioned that the FBI established a terrorist prevention task force at FBI headquarters made up of representatives of a dozen different agencies. Its goal is to identify and stop future terrorist acts with proactive investigations and to predict and prevent future scenarios. Prior to September 11th, the FBI was, and continues to work with our colleagues at the local, state and federal levels to evaluate security at critical public events and to protect critical infrastructures like water and transportation systems. Our work in these areas has been supported at every turn by law enforcement and public safety agencies from across the nation. One of Director Mueller's highest priorities is to improve our working relationship with our law enforcement partners around the world. He stated that he is convinced that no one institution is strong enough to tackle the challenge of terrorism alone. No one agency or entity at any level, whether it be federal, state, or local, has the resources to do it alone. We must work together. Law enforcement, quite simply, is only as good as its relationships.

Director Mueller has reached out to key law enforcement leaders throughout the United States and asked them to educate him on their issues and concerns. He held a series of meetings with representatives of the International Association of Chiefs of Police, the Major City Chiefs and the National Sheriff's Association. The Director and the Attorney General have sat across the table from the Philadelphia Police Commissioner, John Timoney, and the Baltimore Police Commissioner, Edward Norris, and the Mayor of Gary, Indiana, Scott King, and other key state and local law enforcement officials. The meetings were candid, open and productive and led to some new initiatives. One initiative is to explore the feasibility of creating a permanent advisory board comprised of state and local law enforcement executives to address current and future issues that impact on our essential working relationships. A first meeting is scheduled for November 16th, 2001. During this meeting it is anticipated that short term solutions for information sharing will be discussed.

Another issue that arose was that of sharing information. In that regard, the director encouraged the law enforcement leaders to participate in the joint terrorism task forces which currently exist in 36 cities, or to become part of counterterrorism working groups, and he tasked FBI special agents in charge with initiating task forces in cities where they do not currently exist.

It is also apparent that much more needs to be done in terms of training. Hundreds of thousands of law enforcement officers throughout the country can provide valuable information about criminal activity and offenders. The FBI is in the process of preparing training materials that can be disseminated to these officers so that we use the force-multiplier effect in identifying wrongdoers. Similarly, it is important to educate officers on how the FBI obtains information regarding potential terrorist acts, how it is evaluated, and the laws which regulate its use and transmission.

While there are areas for improvement, I would be remiss if I did not advise the committee of our long-term provision of critical information services to state and local law enforcement. Our Criminal Justice Information Services division, or CJIS, has worked with the criminal justice community for many years under a shared management concept in the management and operation of the FBI's three national criminal justice information systems: (1) the Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System or IAFIS, (2) the National Crime Information Center or NCIC, and (3) Law Enforcement Online or LEO. Under this shared management concept, representatives from local, state, and federal law enforcement from across the nation and the FBI are partners and stakeholders. Through this mechanism, all levels of criminal justice participate in decisions regarding the policy, technical, and procedural aspects of the systems. Participation in all three systems is voluntary, yet over 100,000 criminal justice agencies contribute to and/or have access to the information maintained at CJIS. Electronic connection is achieved through a nationwide network operated and funded by the FBI, emanating from Clarksburg, West Virginia. The CJIS division maintains a single point of contact in each state and federal agency. Access for local agencies, to the point of contact in each state, is provided through state operated and funded networks.

At this time, I want to provide the committee with an overview of these systems and the partnership we have with law enforcement in operating these systems. The IAFIS is the national fingerprint and criminal history record repository and is accessible by all criminal justice agencies 24 hours a day, seven days per week, 365 days a year. The IAFIS relies upon information submitted by local, state, and federal criminal justice agencies. These same agencies also have access to the repository to retrieve data. All information entered into the system is fingerprint-based. Information retrieved is very reliable because fingerprint comparison insures a positive identification. Fingerprint submission for criminal identifications are typically completed in less than two hours and non-criminal, or applicant fingerprints are processed in less than 24 hours.

To illustrate IAFIS usage, the FBI received more than 15.4 million fingerprint submissions during fiscal year 2001. This equates to approximately 1.3 million receipts per month and reflects a six percent increase in receipts from fiscal year 2000. In addition, we add approximately 5,000 to 7,000 new entries daily for offenders who were not previously included in the data file.

A much faster, but far less accurate, means of access to the criminal history repository provides for retrieval by name, date of birth, social security number, and other demographic identifiers. The Interstate Identification Index, or Triple I, as this name-based system is known, provides a response within seconds to inquiries from remote users.

Fingerprints can still be submitted in hard copy and are converted to electronic form by CJIS. Electronic fingerprint submissions are, however, much more efficient; and, at this time 57 percent of the average daily submissions (40,000) are in electronic form. Failure of agencies to convert to electronic form is virtually always due to lack of funds to procure the needed equipment or personnel shortages preventing proper staffing of the electronic capture operation. Once an agency converts to electronic fingerprint submissions the benefits are many. Not only is the transmission faster, electronically sent in seconds rather than days through the mail, but the process of taking the prints is faster. Prints taken manually must be done three times, one copy for local files, one for the state repository, and one for the national repository. Taken once electronically, additional copies may be sent easily. Also, the faster a print reaches the FBI, the sooner it is available to the rest of the nation, extending the benefit of one agency submitting electronically to all agencies.

One example of the value of electronic access to Triple I information is its use in a pilot project with the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) at John F. Kennedy (JFK) International Airport in New York City and at the Newark, New Jersey, International Airport. The INS requested Triple I access to identify criminal alien passengers on the airlines' advance passenger manifest with the intent to prosecute all who violated the Immigration and Naturalization Act. As this is deemed an appropriate criminal justice function, the INS started utilizing this capability in late 1999.

The INS is currently seeking to expand this program to other international airports. A series of meetings has been held with the INS, the FBI, and U.S. Customs Service to plan for the orderly expansion of this program. The U.S. Customs Service is involved because it provides the INS with Triple I access through their Treasury Enforcement Communications System, or TECS. System upgrades will be required in order to handle the increased volume this would impose on the TECS. The Customs Service has advised that it will take approximately nine months to accomplish its systems upgrade. Thereafter, an incremental transition to other international airports can begin.

The next system I will address is NCIC. NCIC is a computerized index of documented criminal justice information, again available twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.

The over 40 million records stored in NCIC are entered by and available to local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies which generate approximately 3 million transactions per day, mostly to retrieve information from the database. Access to the data stored in NCIC is restricted to duly-authorized criminal justice agencies. In addition to law enforcement, criminal justice agencies include criminal courts, prosecuting attorneys, and probation and parole offices.

The NCIC database consists of information concerning persons of interest to law enforcement and stolen property. In addition to the criminal history information available in Triple I, which can be accessed through NCIC, data includes fugitives, missing persons, individuals on probation or parole, subjects incarcerated in federal prisons (entered by the Federal Bureau of Prisons), individuals against whom restraining orders have been issued, convicted sexual offenders, deported felons (entered by the INS), and persons who have threatened high ranking government officials (entered by the U.S. Secret Service). Stolen property includes virtually anything with a unique identifying number such as vehicles, boats, license plates, guns, airplanes, financial instruments, appliances, and personal items.

In October 1995, the database was expanded to include a category of individuals who are members of violent gangs or terrorist organizations. Shortly after the events of September 11, individuals on the Terrorist Watch List were entered into this database, which can be accessed by law enforcement throughout the United States. When available, facial images have been appended to these entries.

Law Enforcement Online (LEO) is the law enforcement, criminal justice, and public safety information highway of the 21st century. It provides all levels of criminal justice a national focal point for electronic communication, education, and information sharing. LEO can be accessed by any approved employee of a duly constituted local, state, or federal law enforcement, criminal justice, or public safety agency. It provides a state-of-the-art common communications link to all levels of these agencies by supporting broad, immediate dissemination and exchange of information. Some of the special features of LEO include: a special topics index, which provides a secure community area for information related to law enforcement; LEO Online special interest groups, which provides public and private controlled multi-level access for members of specialized organizations and disciplines in public safety; news groups, which provides bulletin board capability between users and posting of topical information; a multimedia library, which provides an easily accessed multimedia repository on a broad range of publications, documents, studies, research, technical bulletins, and reports of interest to leo users; distance learning, which provides online topical learning modules; and e-mail capability between users. With these capabilities, it is easy to see that leo is an important tool in equipping officers to counter crimes that involve a coordinated effort across the United States, such as violent crime, money laundering, organized crime, and counterterrorism.

In addition to the three FBI systems I just mentioned, there is another means, already in place, by which the criminal justice community can share information. This is the National Law Enforcement Telecommunications System, or NLETS. NLETS is a computerized, high-speed message switching system. Its sole purpose is to provide for the interstate and/or interagency exchange of criminal justice and criminal justice-related information. A log of all transactions is kept to provide system statistical reports and management information. NLETS is supported by a computer system located at the Arizona Department of Public Safety in Phoenix, Arizona. The system can receive, store, and forward message traffic from and to all its user agencies. Administrative message traffic on the system includes all types of free form criminal justice data from one point to one or more points. NLETS also supports inquiry into state motor vehicle, driver's license, criminal history, and other state data bases.

NLETS users are primarily criminal justice agencies nationwide. Communications service is provided to the capitol city for each state, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, numerous federal agencies, and the National Insurance Crime Bureau. The sole international member is the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

In closing, I am confident that the FBI will continue to build stronger, more supportive relationships with all levels of law enforcement and emergency responders nationwide. I believe we will get through these difficult and trying times by supporting each other, by upholding our values, and by tapping into the deep reservoir of determination, strength, and courage that exists throughout America.

I thank you for the privilege of addressing this committee today. I am available to answer any questions the committee may have of me

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