Thank you very much for that kind introduction. I am pleased to be able to join
you today here in Hong Kong.
This morning you will hear echoes of Richard Clark’s message to you
yesterday. Not his discussion of whether we can change the heart of al Qaeda,
but a look at meeting strategic and tactical needs for intelligence. To borrow
from Mr. Clark, success requires good police work, good intelligence, and
a willingness to look into the future. To get there, let’s take a short
It is a bright and peaceful morning here in Hong Kong. On such a spring
morning in 1995, terrorists used a truck bomb to destroy the federal government
building and kill 168 men, women, and young children in Oklahoma City. In
response, we erected concrete barriers around our existing buildings and
set our new buildings farther away from the street so that car or truck bombs
could not get close enough to cause massive destruction. Six years later,
none of these measures played any role in protecting the World Trade Center
or the Pentagon from terrorists using airplanes as bombs.
Does what happened in 2001 mean our response to the events of 1995 was
wrong? No, but the September 11 terrorist attacks do illustrate the peril
of looking only at the past to prepare for the future.
Absolute security for those we protect, whether they are nations, corporations,
or our fellow citizens, simply is not possible. But if we are to achieve
a more secure world, it is not just yesterday’s threats that we must
be concerned with—it is tomorrow’s.
At the FBI, we spend a great deal of time thinking not only about the current
threats, but also about what the threats of five or 10 years from now will
look like, and how they will affect all of us. While we could spend days
talking about what the future holds, I want to mention three global trends
that will strongly influence our society in the coming years and which will
in turn drive the measures you and I will have to take to deal with those
First, around the world, demographic and economic changes will likely lead
to growing numbers of restless and unemployed people. This, combined with
shortfalls in food, fuel, and even water may result in a more hostile world
where violence escalates both in number and impact of events.
Second, technology advances will continue, and the transfer of data and
information will become even easier. While this will be good for commerce,
criminal and terrorist elements will find endless opportunities—or
create opportunities on their own—to exploit this infrastructure. Some
will use it for covert communication, others for sophisticated larceny, and
still others to promote their violent message—such as the constant
stream of Internet video from Iraq.
And third, the role of the nation-state will take on less importance. An
American government commission, two years before September 11 suggested that
an individual’s self-identification with a state may become less important
than his association with ethnic, ideological, or tribal-based organizations.
The commission suggested that criminals or terrorists with such affiliations
will find an advantage through hidden networks that easily cross national
and other jurisdictional boundaries—boundaries that confine us unless
we are able to overcome them.
What does this emerging reality mean for us?
Today I want to look a little closer at each trend, examine the implications,
and give you an idea of how the FBI is preparing—today—to meet
Escalating Violence >
The list of sensational acts of violence in recent years is long. Whether
it targets people at work in New York and Washington; commuters in Madrid
and London; vacationers in Bali; or children at school in Beslan, the scope
and sensational nature of violence against innocents by terrorists is undoubtedly
And we must anticipate that this trend will continue. Terrorists use these
attacks to gain notice. The more sensational the attack, the more likely
it will receive broad news coverage, giving them the attention they crave.
We already know that our adversaries have the will to carry out appalling
violence—they are merely waiting for the means and opportunity to strike
again. Given the certainty of escalating violence, prevention becomes paramount.
The FBI’s reputation has been built on its ability to solve crimes
and to identify and capture criminals. It is a well-deserved reputation.
If I ever commit a serious crime, the FBI is the last organization on Earth
I would want looking for me.
But the September 11 attacks demonstrated—and subsequent terrorist
events worldwide have confirmed—that investigating after the fact leaves
us at risk. So, we have shifted much of our resources to predictive efforts
in order to interdict an attack before it occurs. This has been a sea change
Since 2001, the FBI has focused on developing an intelligence capability—from
collection to analysis to dissemination—so that we have the critical
information that leads us to a cell or predicts an attack.
This has involved more than just training our special agents to develop
more and better sources of information, though we have done that. It involves
what we do with the intelligence once we have it.
In the last four years, we have doubled the number of intelligence and
language analysts at the Bureau to help bring together all the bits of information,
to establish relationships, and to identify threats.
To spread the intelligence function throughout our organization, we have
established field intelligence groups in each of our 56 field offices throughout
the United States. These groups of special agents, intelligence analysts,
language analysts, and surveillance specialists focus exclusively on the
intelligence needs of that region. As a result, both raw and finished intelligence
reporting—the information that decision-makers act on—has dramatically
Has it worked? In fact, there have been a number of FBI operations that
we believe have disrupted and dismantled terrorist actions before they could
And I believe those whose operations are being disrupted recognize this
focus and approach. In 2004, a convicted member of the so-called Virginia
Jihad, a cell just outside of Washington, told the Washington Post: “I
came to realize that the government is no longer interested in catching people
after the fact, but would rather prevent it before it happens.”
He was right, and the FBI will remain on this path. This past week, I spent
three days with a group of about 50 of these analysts, specialists, and agents
as they discussed their strategy, their future, and their commitment to the
direction we need to follow in order to safeguard our society. It was an
impressive group, and any lingering doubts I had about the FBI’s ability
to make this transformation were erased in those three days.
They understand the lessons of New York, Washington, Madrid, London, Bali,
and elsewhere, and they know that we cannot wait for an attack to occur to
begin our work. In an age of escalating violence, prevention cannot just
be a hope, it must be our plan.
Turning to another trend, technology has made the world smaller, but, in
some ways, it has made the world more dangerous.
The powerful information technologies that have done so much to improve
the quality of our lives are also being used by some of the worst elements
of our society. We see, in particular, a number of traditional crimes that
have migrated online: common frauds, identity theft, copyright infringement,
child pornography, and child exploitation. It even strikes close to home.
Just a few weeks ago we discovered an Internet phishing scam that focused
on the U.S. government employees’ financial investment program.
All indications are that Internet-enabled crime will increase radically
over the next few years, with the unchecked potential for driving down consumer
confidence in Internet security and stunting the growth of e-commerce.
But we are also seeing a new category of crime that did not exist in the
days before computers, including computer intrusions, denial-of-service attacks,
worms, viruses, and the like. These attacks often focus on a nation’s
or corporation’s internal data. The corruption or destruction of that
data or those networks is the equivalent of cutting off the blood supply,
with consequences that are just as catastrophic. There is some logic to the
prediction that the first notice of a major attack in the future will not
be the bright flash of an explosion but instead simply a blank screen.
To address these threats, we all are going to need the capability to investigate
cyber crime. We must be as agile and adaptive as the global organizations
that threaten us today. And we need the tools to harness the power of technology
to protect our citizens from those who would exploit technology to harm them.
The FBI has dedicated an entire division—our Cyber Division—to
address this growing set of threats. We have specially trained cyber squads
at FBI Headquarters and in each of our field offices. These agents and analysts
protect against and investigate computer intrusions, theft of intellectual
property and personal information, child pornography and exploitation, and
On top of this, our 93 computer crimes task forces around the country combine
state-of-the-art technology and the resources of our federal, state, and
We also have an Internet Crime Complaint Center, which serves as a clearinghouse
for internet-related consumer complaints. On average, the center receives
more than 18,000 consumer complaints each month. We use the information we
receive from consumers and from our private-sector partners to assess trends,
identify current online scams and to find those responsible.
The growth in technology shows no sign of slowing. How we manage our responsibility
in the cyber arena will play a large role in determining whether technology
remains a benefit to the world or becomes an affliction.
While on the topic of information technology, it might be useful to note
that the FBI is adapting emerging information technology, not only to investigate
cyber crimes, but also to provide the information infrastructure to support
our entire mission. A couple of efforts have not been as successful as we
had hoped and that has generated some widespread publicity, but there are
success stories as well. Among them:
The FBI’s Terrorist Screening Center database is the master repository
for all terrorist identification data known to the U.S. government.
And our Information Data Warehouse holds more than 100 million pages of
terrorist-related documents in a database accessible to our analysts and
agents around the world.
Nation-State and Boundaries >
Finally, when we look at the role of nation-states, it is clear that they
are already taking on less importance for criminals and terrorists alike.
Al Qaeda, Eastern European cyber criminals, organized crime—they all
operate without regard for any of our collective borders, and, in fact, often
use these borders to their advantage.
Our challenge, in an environment like this, is that we must respect the
very boundaries and jurisdictions that they do not. Our ability to work together
across those boundaries, whether they are bureaucratic, domestic, or international,
will define whether our efforts are successful—or not.
The key to success is building partnerships now that we can rely upon in
It is, of course, easier to say that we are going to work together, than
to actually do it. Historically, the FBI has been seen as not working well
with others, particularly with other federal agencies, such as the CIA. And
in some cases, the FBI has not been allowed to work with others.
For decades prior to September 11, the FBI and the CIA were legally prohibited
from sharing information between criminal and terrorism cases. Even FBI agents
working terrorism and intelligence matters could not compare notes with FBI
agents working on criminal cases, even when those cases concerned the very
same terrorist subjects. The Patriot Act has changed all that. Removing those
legal walls has given us an indispensable tool in the war against terror.
But the culture of cooperation, which in truth was always stronger than
most thought, has blossomed since September 11. Today, the FBI, CIA, NSA,
and the rest of the federal government not only share information on a regular
basis, we are exchanging employees and working together every day. Intelligence
officers working on terrorism cases see the same data and work side-by-side
with agents developing criminal cases.
Today, we work with state and local law enforcement in a variety of ways.
One of the most important are the Joint Terrorism Task Forces we have established
around the country where the intelligence community and law enforcement community
work to track down each and every terrorism lead. Since 2001, we have increased
the number of these task forces from 35 to 101.
But it is not just inside the United States that we work to build partnerships.
Today, cases with an international nexus have become the rule rather than
the exception. Our Legal Attaché offices in 54 locations around the
world have become increasingly important to our operations. What began primarily
as liaison offices now assist our counterparts overseas on joint investigations,
intelligence-sharing, and the development of new methods to prevent attacks.
Further, these collaborative efforts are not limited to our international
government partners or to law enforcement and intelligence agencies. We also
work closely with members of the private sector and have developed a viable
Many of those partnerships begin at forums like this. Here we have an opportunity
to build the personal networks, to learn from what others have to say on
topics with which we all struggle, and get a sense of what solutions are
out there to help you and me get our jobs done more effectively. Together,
we can overcome our adversaries, no matter where they are.
On September 11, 2005, a group of men planned to enter a military recruiting
center on a busy street in Santa Monica, California, and kill everyone inside.
They planned to go underground for a month, and then, on Yom Kippur, re-emerge
and open fire on the families gathered outside a temple in West Los Angeles.
The case was broken when the terrorists committed a series of gas station
robberies to raise money to finance the attacks. Police in Torrance, California,
arrested two of them and discovered documents that listed religious locations
and military posts.
A few years ago this bit of information might not have registered, but
the Torrance Police had an officer assigned to the FBI’s Joint Terrorist
Task Force. They asked him to take a look. He called in the rest of the task
force. Hundreds of investigators worked around-the-clock at an FBI command
post to identify other members of the cell. Thousands of phone records were
analyzed. Thousands of man-hours were spent backtracking until the entire
cell was uncovered.
They had raised money, obtained weapons, set the dates, and chosen their
victims. They were poised to strike.
What stopped it? Our tighter links to local law enforcement, our improved
ability to gather and analyze intelligence, and our improved computer databases.
Partnerships, prevention, technology.
The future, and the threats it contains, can be frightening to consider.
But the steps we are taking today—to prevent attacks, to harness technology,
and to build partnerships—will help us meet the threats of today and
prepare us for the threats of tomorrow.
Thank you again for inviting me to speak with you today, and I would be
happy to take your questions.