you Anthony. Thank you members of the American
Civil Liberties Union. It is an honor to
I welcome the opportunity to speak to you
today, and I want to recognize the ACLU
for its commitment to protecting our civil
liberties. You have a long and proud history
of standing up to defend the freedoms guaranteed
to us by the Bill of Rights and the Constitution.
The FBI and the ACLU share these values,
as well as concern for the safety of all
However, since 9/11, many complex law enforcement
issues have arisen, and on some of those
issues, we disagree. In meetings with Anthony
and other ACLU members, we have discussed
some of these differences. I think that
this exchange of ideas is important
especially with those who disagree. Because
as a citizen of this country, I believe,
like you, that our freedoms including
the right to disagree are sacred.
The current situation reminds me of when
I returned home after serving in Viet Nam.
America was deeply divided over the war.
I entered the University of Virginia Law
School, where I had good friends who were
conscientious objectors. We talked about
the war, and how you define service to your
country. Not surprisingly, we often did
not agree. But in the process we gained
respect for each others views.
That is what I hope we can accomplish here
today. I would like to continue a very important
discussion taking place in our country right
now by reflecting on three issues. First,
the difficult challenges we as the FBI,
and as a nation, face in addressing terrorism.
Second, how the FBI has changed since 9/11
and why it is uniquely situated to carry
out the counterterrorism mission. And third,
the importance of protecting both our homeland
and our civil liberties.
To understand the FBIs response to
the terrorist attacks, you have to go back
to September 11, 2001 . . . to that blue,
cloudless morning. The World Trade Center
towers have each been struck by a plane.
The towers have collapsed, killing how many?
We do not know. A hijacked plane has plunged
into the Pentagon, killing how many? We
do not know. A plane originating from Newark
is in the skies. Radar shows it heading
toward Washington. Communication is lost.
That plane crashes into a field in Pennsylvania.
We learn from cell phone calls made by passengers
on the doomed planes that they had been
hijacked. We do not know by whom, or even
how many hijackers are involved. Most importantly,
we do not know if other terrorists in the
United States are preparing a second wave
For the FBI, the immediate challenge was
to identify the hijackers, and anyone associated
with them, and to uncover any other plots.
Our 24-hour command center at Headquarters
was operational within minutes of the first
attack. In New York, being close to the
Towers, we had to evacuate our space and
operate from a garage, setting up a command
post with 300 investigators from 37 different
The scope of this investigation is unprecedented.
The FBI followed over 500,000 separate investigative
leads, and conducted more than 167,000 interviews.
On September 10th, we had only 535 international
terrorism agents around the world and only
82 at headquarters. Within days of the attack,
almost 7,000 Agents were reassigned from
other areas. Remember, too, during the next
six months, the FBI was dealing with anthrax,
the Daniel Pearl kidnaping, investigating
the crash of an American Airlines flight
in Queens, and participating in the security
for the Salt Lake City Olympics.
America responded strongly and rapidly to
the terrorist attacks of September 11th,
and, thankfully, our country has not experienced
further catastrophe. In less than two years,
we have made substantial progress against
Al Qaeda. But the war is far from over.
Removing the sanctuary of Afghanistan was
a huge loss to Al Qaeda, as has been the
apprehension of many of its senior leaders.
But despite our progress, Al Qaeda still
seeks to attack us, and they have the capacity
to do so.
Al Qaeda, of course, is not the only threat.
Prior to September 11th, Hizballah had killed
more Americans than any other terrorist
group. Other terrorist organizations have
launched strikes: like the one we saw on
Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia in 1996. And,
we cannot forget domestic terrorists who
operate in our own country. They also use
violence to intimidate and coerce Americans,
and they are also a deadly threat, as we
came to understand by the April 1995 bombing
in Oklahoma City.
Recent terrorist attacks abroad have provided
more stark reminders of the deadly threat
posed by groups and individuals with the
desire and the ability to kill. I have just
returned from the Middle East, where I met
with my counterparts in a number of countries.
In Tunisia we discussed the attack on a
synagogue, where 14 German tourists were
killed. In Saudi Arabia we reviewed the
investigation into the May 12th bombings
of three compounds in which 34 people were
killed, eight of them Americans. In Morocco
we discussed the Casablanca bombings of
May 16th in which 41 people died. And in
Israel I met with Shin Bet and our other
counterparts where deaths from terrorism
are, tragically, an everyday occurrence.
Despite the success of these and other attacks,
it is important to remember that many have
been prevented. How many Americans would
have died if anti-government extremists
had blown up two large propane fuel tanks
in a populated area of Sacramento three
years ago, as planned? Or if international
terrorists had not been stopped from blowing
up a series of New York landmarks in 1993?
Or if Ahmed Ressam had succeeded in bombing
Los Angeles International Airport on New
Year's Eve in 1999?
This history of prevented, and executed
attacks, bears testimony to the difficult
challenges posed to our country by terrorism.
The fact is that terrorist groups behave
much like deadly viruses. Their reach is
global in nature, they are tenacious, and
they adapt quickly to increase their chances
of survival. The evolving nature of terrorist
groups is why we can report progress in
the war on terror, and yet say the threat
is still there. In order to root out terrorism,
law enforcement must also be ready and able
The September 11 attacks against New York
and Washington changed the course of history.
They changed the meaning of national security
for the United States and dramatically shifted
FBI priorities so that the prevention of
terrorist attacks became the FBI's top priority
and overriding focus. While we remain committed
to our other important national security
and law enforcement responsibilities, the
prevention of terrorism takes precedence
in our thinking and planning; in our hiring
and staffing; in our training and technologies;
and, most importantly, in our investigations.
With this shift in priorities has come a
major shift in our operations. We have greatly
increased the number of Agents devoted to
terrorism. We have hired nearly 300 new
counterterrorism translators specializing
in Middle Eastern languages. We have completely
overhauled our counterterrorism program.
Critical to preventing future terrorist
attacks is improving our intelligence capabilities
so that we can increase the most important
aspect of terrorist intelligence information
its predictive value. We have taken
a number of steps to build that capacity
within the FBI. We have centralized our
case information. We set up a National Joint
Terrorism Task Force at FBI Headquarters,
staffed by representatives from 30 different
federal, state, and local agencies. It coordinates
the two-way flow of information and intelligence
between Headquarters and the 66 local joint
terrorism task forces around the country.
We have also quadrupled the number of strategic
analysts at Headquarters. And we are building
a cadre of more than 700 analysts nationwide.
As a result of these efforts, we are now
able to produce a better analytical product
and to share that product more effectively
with policy makers, with the intelligence
community, and with our law enforcement
Another key to the Bureaus transformation
is the complete overhaul of our information
technology systems to move the FBI from
a paper-driven organization to one that
employs the latest technology. We have brought
in professionals from private industry to
help bring the Bureau into the digital age.
From the rollout of new hardware, to the
upgrade of critical networks, to the redesign
of investigative applications, we are making
progress. Thanks to these new initiatives,
we will soon have a system that will better
search and analyze data and allow Agents
to manage their case files electronically
for the first time in history.
As we have been transforming the Bureau
to meet new challenges, some have asked
if America should instead create a new domestic
intelligence agency. But I believe this
would be a mistake.
Proponents of a separate agency see an advantage
in separating law enforcement and domestic
intelligence. They see a dichotomy between
intelligence operations that prevent attacks
and law enforcement operations that catch
those who would commit terrorist acts. The
reality is that the two functions are synergistic
in the fight against terrorism. The combined
responsibilities make the FBI uniquely situated
to make strategic and tactical choices between
our law enforcement options of arrest and
incarceration and our intelligence options
of surveillance and source development.
The global aspect of terrorism creates an
even greater need for the FBI to integrate
its intelligence program and criminal operations
to prevent attacks. We have done this in
ways a separate domestic intelligence agency
could not. This approach has already paid
off. Over the last 20 months, the FBI has
identified, disrupted, and neutralized a
number of terrorist threats and cells by
bringing criminal charges, demonstrating
that one of the most effective ways to catch
terrorists is by cracking down on their
Because terrorists operate at every level
from local, to regional, to global
the terrorist threat must be fought
at every level. Success depends on an extensive
network of partnerships and alliances. As
a result of our presence in communities
across the U.S. and in our 45 international
or "Legal Attache" offices, the
FBI already has the benefit of established
relations with our partners in law enforcement.
We have cultivated these relationships over
time, and we must continue to expand and
Aside from its jurisdictional and organizational
strengths, the FBI has another advantage
that should not be underestimated
its people. The men and women of the FBI
have the experience and the training to
do their job within the framework of the
Constitution. They are thorough, tireless,
and fully committed to protecting Americans
and their civil liberties. When it comes
to working within the limits of the law,
the FBI has hard-won experience making the
difficult judgment calls that are sometimes
necessary during investigations.
There have been mistakes in the past, but
it is in response to those mistakes that
the Bureau has become better. Over the years,
strict legal limitations and vigorous oversight
structures have been enacted to specifically
regulate how domestic intelligence operations
are conducted and enforce strict adherence
to the Constitution. But we have to continue,
of course, to evolve and make changes and
adjustments as necessary.
The FBI puts a premium on thoroughly training
our Special Agents about their responsibility
to respect the rights and dignity of individuals.
In addition to extensive instruction on
Constitutional law, criminal procedure,
and sensitivity to other cultures, every
new FBI Agent makes a visit to the Holocaust
museum to see for themselves what happens
when law enforcement becomes a tool for
We live in dangerous times, but we are not
the first generation of Americans to face
threats to our security. Like those before
us, we will be judged by future generations
on how we react to this crisis. And by that
I mean not just whether we win the war on
terrorism, because I believe we will, but
also whether, as we fight that war, we safeguard
for our citizens the very liberties for
which we are fighting.
So how do we today and tomorrow
prevent, deter, or disrupt terrorist attacks
before they have been initiated? How aggressively
should the FBI investigate suspicious activity
that might be related to terrorism? There
are no easy answers. And these are precisely
the issues that we wrestle with every day
in the FBI, whether it be Agents in the
field or personnel back at headquarters.
The men and women who serve in the FBI are
devoted to upholding and protecting those
laws. But we are also resolute in pursuing
an investigation, and we do not and
I do not shy away from using every
tool that Congress has given us to protect
Americans against terrorism. Using those
tools we must concentrate on is obtaining
the facts and presenting them in an objective,
unbiased manner to prosecutors, to our oversight
committees, and to decision makers who forge
policy and legislation.
As we seek this information and these facts
to prevent future terrorist attacks, the
FBI will live up to its obligation to protect
the citizens of the United States as well
as the rights afforded to each citizen under
our Constitution. In our free and open society
there is no guarantee that there will never
be another terrorist attack. Therefore,
we must thoroughly investigate every threat,
whether at home or abroad, while carefully
observing the Constitutional rights of all.
The ACLU seeks to prevent the tyranny
of the majority from destroying our
fundamental liberties. But in fighting terrorists,
we seek to prevent the tyranny of
the minority from destroying our fundamental
way of life. The FBI will be judged not
just on how we effectively disrupt and deter
terrorism, but also on how we protect the
civil liberties and the Constitutional rights
of all Americans, including those who wish
us ill. We must accomplish both, so that
future generations can enjoy lives that
are both safe and free.
The FBI is dedicated to protecting Americans,
and Americas freedoms, and we will.
Enjoy your stay in Washington. It was an
honor to be invited to speak to you.