For Immediate Release
FBI National Press Office
Don't Need Our Own MI5
William J. Bratton, chief, Los Angeles Police Department
July 5, 2005, police in Torrance, Calif., a small city bordering
Los Angeles, arrested two men leaving a gas station after
a robbery. That kind of crime predates Bonnie and Clyde.
The next day, Torrance detectives executed a search warrant
on the apartment of one of the suspects in my city, Los
Angeles. There they found documents that seemed to give
clues to the planning of attacks on locations in Los Angeles.
Torrance called in the FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force,
FBI Agents, Detectives from the Los Angeles Police Department,
and the county sheriff's department, and a team of analysts
began to go through the documents. According to the indictment,
they uncovered plans to attack U.S. military facilities
in Los Angeles County and places where Jews gather, from
synagogues to the Israeli consulate.
appeared there might be other suspects involved. We needed
to move quickly and quietly. That night, my phone rang at
3 a.m. It was the LAPD command center notifying me that
bombs were going off on London trains at the height of the
city's rush hour. I knew we had to address security concerns
for our own rush hour.
is the world of a big-city police chief today. A terrorist
plot in your own back yard, another unfolding half a world
away. You need the agility to react to both, sometimes simultaneously.
both cases, my efforts were linked seamlessly with the Los
Angeles office of the FBI and its Joint Terrorism Task Force
and Field Intelligence Group. This is the new normal.
have security clearances and identification that give me
unfettered access to the FBI's offices here. I am briefed
on classified operations and worldwide threats whether there
is a connection to Los Angeles or not. The FBI understands
the need for information-sharing.
people have been calling on Washington to create a new domestic
intelligence agency, without police powerslike Britain's
MI5to take over from the FBI and be the lead in gathering
and analyzing intelligence as it relates to terrorism. The
argument goes that the "FBI culture" is that of
a criminal investigative agency driven to make arrests and
bring prosecutions and that the bureau does not have the
instinct to draw back and look at the wider picture as a
purely intelligence-driven agency might. I disagree.
FBI intelligence analysts sit side by side with LAPD and
sheriff's analysts in a Joint Regional Intelligence Center
here. Our investigations are intelligence-driven. When we
don't have enough information, we can gather intelligence
for weeks, months or even years. When the intelligence tells
us there is a threat to public safety, we can move in and
new agency that would gather intelligence and then go to
law enforcement to take action would add an unnecessary
step. If the problem before Sept. 11, 2001, was that the
right hand didn't know what the left hand was doing, how
would a third hand help?
police departments have achieved a higher level of synergy
with the FBI on intelligence and investigations than at
any other time in history. If it's not broken, let's not
try to fix it. The writer has been police commissioner of
Boston and New York City. He is currently the police chief
of Los Angeles.
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