S. Mueller, III, Director, FBI
American Jewish Committee Annual Conference
May 8, 2003
you, Richard, and good morning. Since my first
very productive meeting with David [Harris], I
have looked forward to meeting with all of you
and having an opportunity to talk about the war
on terror, to brief you on significant changes
at the FBI, and to hear your questions and concerns.
This is also my first chance to recognize the
AJC's response to the tragic events of September
11, 2001. Your actions truly made a difference:
your aid to victims and their families. Your help
in rebuilding the Greek Orthodox Church near the
Twin Towers. Your meetings with international
leaders to encourage concerted efforts against
terrorists. I particularly want to thank you for
all you have done over the years to support the
FBI in its counterterrorism and civil rights programs.
For our part, we remain committed to responding
strongly to your concerns, your need to have information
that might affect your communities, your worries
about their safety. I want to emphatically assure
you today that the FBI is dedicated to protecting
you and your communities and we are appreciative
of your input on all our mutual concerns. At every
level of our organization, particularly in our
field offices, we are actively working with Jewish
organizations here and across the country to address
specific issues and to strengthen productive ways
of working together and sharing information.
Last week President Bush addressed the nation
to announce the end of combat operations in Iraq
and to issue a report card on the war on terror.
"The war on terror is not over," he
said, "yet it is not endless. We do not know
the day of final victory, but we have seen the
turning of the tide."
These are hopeful and welcome words for a nation
that was catastrophically attacked a short 20
months ago. The mandate from President Bush to
the FBI could not have been clearer: Prevent future
terrorist attacks in America.
If the mandate was simple, the devil has been
in the details. In September 2001, the FBI was
not positioned to most effectively carry out that
mandate. By late October, we got a major legislative
assist from the USA Patriot Act. I know you strongly
supported those provisions and I am glad now to
have the opportunity to thank you for that support
- it has been tremendously helpful. But we were
still left with the formidable task of realigning
programs and building brand new ones from the
ground up-all with a finite number of agents and
professional employees who in the past had been
assigned to criminal priorities.
Today I think it's fair to say that we are a profoundly
different organization. So, while I want to focus
my remarks this morning on the FBI's role in the
war on terror, I would like to give you a summary
of our focus, our priorities.
The September 11th attacks against New York and
Washington changed the course of history, changed
the meaning of national security for the United
States, and reemphasized FBI priorities.
Today our top three priorities are focused on
protecting the country. Preventing terrorist attacks,
on our shores and overseas, is number one. Second,
protecting the country from foreign intelligence
operations and espionage. I think you know that
the FBI is the only agency with this ticket -
if we don't undertake it, no one else is there
to do it. Third, protecting the United States
from cyber crime and cyber attacks.
The next five priorities relate to traditional
FBI criminal jurisdictions: our top two, public
corruption and civil rights, which again are responsibilities
unique to the FBI. Then organized crime, white
collar crime, and significant violent crime.
You've likely heard the debate on whether the
FBI should stay in the business of violent crime.
I believe we must. I believe we have a limited
but important role to play in protecting American
streets from violence, that we bring some special
skills and resources into the mix. Our partnerships
with state and local law enforcement agencies
in violent crime and fugitive task forces over
the past 10 years have made a great difference.
I believe these task forces laid the groundwork
for today's effective network of joint terrorism
Priority number 9: strengthening our partnerships
with law enforcement and with the intelligence
community at home and abroad. We will only be
successful to the extent we build on those partnerships.
Number 10: upgrading our technology, which was
not at all where we need it to be to achieve today's
operational missions, but which is already much
Let me turn now to our specific role in the nation's
war on terror. Our mission could not be clearer:
to prevent acts of terrorism against America.
That means preventing terrorists from entering
the country; it means rooting out sleeper cells
and neutralizing terrorists who are in the country;
it means taking the fight overseas and, with our
partners, capturing terrorist leaders and dismantling
international terrorist networks. Finally, it
means cutting off sources of terrorist funding.
To reliably accomplish these tasks we knew we
had to do much more than gather information and
evidence that would build cases, much more than
reach out cooperatively to our counterparts on
specific investigations, as we had in the past.
Basically, it boiled down to two things:
1. Forging partnerships, domestically and internationally,
with our law enforcement and intelligence colleagues
as well as reaching out as appropriate to private
organizations, industries, and academic communities,
2. Building an intelligence capability almost
from the ground up including using state-of-the-art
With these two enhanced capabilities, I believe
the FBI will be correctly positioned to meet the
For my first point: we have come a long way
to create a seamless network of investigators
and analysts that will intercept terrorists
and terrorist plans.
At the top level, I join George Tenet and others
at the Presidential Daily Briefing, and George
and I make sure we're operating with the same
information. We've exchanged top managers, agents,
and intelligence analysts between our two agencies.
We have similar working relationships with agencies
like the Department of Homeland Security.
At the field level: we now have 66 Joint Terrorism
Task Forces nationwide, staffed with personnel
from the FBI, state and local law enforcement,
first responders, also CIA and other federal
agencies. To me, these are the heart of counterterror
operations, and, because of the reach of state
and local agencies into American communities,
also their eyes and ears. JTTFs are gathering
information, sharing information, conducting
interviews, and chasing down every query and
We are also doing better at disseminating information.
Our expanded Terrorist National Threat Warning
System allows 60 federal agencies to receive
vital information. Our National Law Enforcement
Telecommunications Systems bulletins, including
"Be on the Look Out" alerts, go to
17,000 law enforcement agencies. Same for our
weekly FBI Intelligence Bulletin.
Finally, partnerships at the international level.
I thank my predecessor Louie Freeh for the FBI's
45 legal attaché offices. It's my plan
to continue what Louie started. We need to address
global crimes. There is nothing like working
shoulder to shoulder with colleagues on common
Now, my second point: the FBI's is also building
its intelligence capability.
We've put in place a dedicated intelligence
component, headed by an experienced Bureau executive
and reporting to an Executive Assistant Director
who has come to us from NSA. In the meantime,
with the help of CIA, we've quadrupled our strategic
analysts and upgraded their skills, and we are
building up a cadre of reports officers. We
are creating intelligence units in field offices
to take raw intelligence, strip out sources
and methods, and disseminate relevant information
to our partners.
Finally, we've created a terrorism database
of tens of millions of documents from past and
present investigations and from documents seized
in places like Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq-and
all of it searchable so we can spot patterns
and relationships. Our "document exploitation"
project has already resulted in thousands of
new leads that have taken us to the doorsteps
of terrorists around the world. It will take
time to grow and season this capability, but
we have made a good start that is already making
One last improvement is the Terrorist Threat
Integration Center (TTIC), which is addressing
the flood of information that comes in daily
from around the world. TTIC was stood up last
week. This center is a logical and necessary
development in our war on terror. Now, for the
first time, it will be possible for analysts
working on the big picture to identify gaps
in intelligence and use JTTFs to go out and
collect the needed information.
This leads to my final observation of where
the FBI is in the war on terrorism. With the
authorities provided us to track down terrorists
there also comes great responsibility. Let me
assure you that the FBI remains committed to
protecting civil liberties and acting within
the boundaries of the Constitution.
The modern FBI has a number of internal and
external safeguards built in to ensure the protection
of civil liberties. But, the fact of the matter
is that the FBI is, like any other organization,
an organization of human beings. And, inevitably,
human beings sometimes make mistakes. That is
part of the reason that every New Agent is required
to attend a training session at the National
Holocaust Museum. I think you know that this
program was begun by Louie Freeh after his first
visit there in 1994. It ensures that our Agents
begin their careers understanding and knowing
what happens when police officers become instruments
of state repression. No one comes away, not
one of the new agents comes away from that experience
unchanged, and it is our hope that those lessons
stay with our agents for the rest of their lives.
Let me conclude by saying I am confident that
the war on terrorism will not make us forget
the lessons of the past or our commitment to
civil rights. Rather, I believe it will strengthen
our resolve not only to address terrorism, but
to remember and cherish the precious freedoms
of our country for which we fight.
I thank you for having me here today - it's
an honor to be here.