AMERICA FROM TERRORIST ATTACK
Director Mueller Testifies on "The Wall" and Patriot Act Provisions
On 5/20, Director Mueller
updated the Senate Judiciary Committee on FBI progress in counterterrorism
and intelligence matters.
What did he
say was critical in defeating terrorist threats? Four things:
• The continuous flow of intelligence on terrorists.
• Global partnerships that yield knowledge and expertise that
benefit all nations.
• Sophisticated technology to manage the global pot of collected
• All of these things plus working within the framework of
the Constitution to protect civil liberties.
What about the
U.S.A. Patriot Act? "Many of our counterterrorism successes
are the direct results of provisions included in the Act, a number of
which are scheduled to 'sunset' at the end of next year," he said. "I
strongly believe it is vital to our national security to keep each of
these provisions intact. Without them, the FBI could be forced back into
pre-September 11 practices, attempting to fight the war on terrorism
with one hand tied behind our backs."
These provisions include:
- Tearing down "The
Wall" (more on that below)
- Permitting federal
judges, when presented with evidence, to authorize searches of property
in other judicial districts (because terrorists operate in extended networks)
and to authorize searches of a subject's email, even if his or her ISP
is located in another judicial district.
- Clarifying the FBI's
ability to use court-ordered pen registers and trap-and-trace devices
to track Internet communications...and to seek court-approved roving
wiretaps in an age when terrorists are on the move, conducting business
on multiple mobile phones.
- Criminalizing activities
that provide "material support" to terrorists. (See our story
on FBI Use of the Material Support Statute.)
What about "The
Wall"? So many people wrote and called after the Director's
testimony before the 9-11 Commission last month, saying they understood
in principle how the FBI could, by law and Executive Order, open both
intelligence and criminal cases on a suspected terrorist, but they couldn't
really understand how "The Wall" hampered those investigations.
So here is a pretty concrete description of "The Wall" in action,
elaborated in the full testimony:
Before 9-11-01, Special
Agent Smith, assigned to the intelligence side of a terrorism case (designed
to detect and prevent future acts), was forbidden to discuss the case with
Special Agent Jones, right across the hall, who was working the criminal
side of the same case (focused on violations of the criminal code). For
example, if SA Jones discovered crucial intelligence through her court-ordered
criminal wiretap, she was not allowed to share it with SA Smith--she could
not even suggest that SA Smith might want to seek a wiretap to collect
the information for himself. For example, if SA Jones served a grand jury
subpoena to a suspect's bank, she could not tell SA Smith what she found
in the bank records. Instead, SA Smith would have to issue a National Security
Letter to get that same information.
more information about these issues; about the assistance rendered to
us by the Muslim, Iraqi, and Arab-American communities in the war on
terror; about FBI Counterterrorism and Intelligence Program Reforms;
and in Information Technology Improvements? We encourage you
to read the full