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FBI Responds to Report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States

Washington, D.C. July 22, 2004
  • FBI National Press Office (202) 324-3691

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The FBI responded today to the release of the report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States.

Director Robert S. Mueller, III, said, “The FBI has worked closely with the Commission and their staff throughout their tenure and we commend them for an extraordinary effort. Throughout this process, we have approached the Commission’s inquiry as an opportunity to seek informed and impartial input from outside experts. We took their critiques seriously, adapted our ongoing reform efforts, and have already taken substantial steps to address their remaining concerns. We are gratified and encouraged that the Commission has embraced our vision for change, and recognizes the progress that the men and women of the FBI have made to implement that vision. We agree with the Commission that much work remains to be done, and their findings and recommendations will certainly guide and help us refine our continuing transformation efforts.”

The FBI agrees with the recommendations related to the Bureau as detailed in Chapter 13 of the report and is actively working to build a workforce with expertise in intelligence. While much remains to be done, we have already taken steps to implement the Commission’s recommendations as follows:

  • Recommendation: Recognizing that cross-fertilization between the criminal justice and national security disciplines is vital to the success of both missions, all new agents should receive basic training in both areas. Furthermore, new agents should begin their careers with meaningful assignments in both areas.
  • Recommendation: Agents and analysts should then specialize in one of these disciplines and have the option to work such matters for their entire career with the Bureau. Certain advanced training courses and assignments to other intelligence agencies should be required to advance within the national security discipline.

    The FBI supports this recommendation. On March 22, 2004, Director Mueller adopted a proposal to establish a career path in which new Special Agents are initially assigned to a small field office and exposed to a wide range of field experiences. After approximately three years, agents will be transferred to a large field office where they will specialize in one of four program areas: Intelligence, Counterterrorism/ Counterintelligence, Cyber, or Criminal, and will receive advanced training tailored to their area of specialization. We are working to implement this new career track.

  • Recommendation: In the interest of cross-fertilization, all senior FBI managers, including those working on law enforcement matters, should be certified intelligence officers.

    The FBI agrees with this recommendation. Director Mueller has approved a proposal to establish a formal Intelligence Officer Certification that can be earned through a combination of intelligence assignments and training. Once established, this certification will be a prerequisite for promotion to the level of Section Chief or Assistant Special Agent in Charge (ASAC), thus ensuring that all members of the FBI’s highest management levels will be staffed by fully trained and experienced intelligence officers.

  • Recommendation: The FBI should fully implement a recruiting, hiring, and selection process for agents and analysts that enhances its ability to target and attract individuals with educational and professional backgrounds in intelligence, international relations, language, technology, and other relevant skills.

    The FBI agrees with this recommendation. We have implemented a strategic plan to recruit, hire, and retain Intelligence Analysts. The Bureau has selected veteran analysts to attend events at colleges and universities, as well as designated career fairs throughout the country. We executed an aggressive marketing plan, and for the first time in FBI history, we are offering hiring bonuses for FBI analysts.

    In our Special Agent hiring, we have changed the list of “critical skills” we are seeking in candidates to include intelligence experience and expertise, foreign languages, and technology.

  • Recommendation: The FBI should institute the integration of analysts, agents, linguists, and surveillance personnel in the field so that a dedicated team approach is brought to bear on national security intelligence operations.

    The FBI agrees with this recommendation. We continue to grow the Field Intelligence Groups (FIGs) established in every FBI field office and are on track to add some 300 Intelligence Analysts to the FIGs in FY 2004. The FIGs conduct analysis, direct the collection of information to fill identified intelligence gaps, and ensure that intelligence is disseminated horizontally and vertically to internal and external customers, including our state, local and tribal partners. As of June 2, 2004, there are 1,450 FIG personnel, including 382 Special Agents and 160 employees from other government agencies.

    To support information sharing, there is now a Special Agent or Intelligence Analyst in each Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) dedicated to producing “raw” intelligence reports for the entire national security community, including state, municipal, and tribal law enforcement partners and other JTTF members. These “Reports Officers” are trained to produce intelligence reports that both protect sources and methods and maximize the amount of information that can be shared.

  • Recommendation: Each field office should have an official at the field office’s deputy level for national security matters. This individual would have management oversight and ensure that the national priorities are carried out in the field.

    Our Field Intelligence Groups currently report directly to an ASAC. In some field offices, these ASACs have broader responsibility for national security matters. We will look closely at this recommendation.

  • Recommendation: The FBI should align its budget structure according to its four main programs – intelligence, counterterrorism and counterintelligence, criminal, and criminal justice services – to ensure better transparency on program costs, management of resources, and protection of the intelligence program.

    The FBI supports this recommendation. As outlined in Director Mueller’s June 3, 2004, testimony before the House Appropriations Committee, the FBI supports restructuring its budget decision units from the current ten to the following four: Intelligence, National Security, Criminal Enterprises/Federal Crimes, and Criminal Justice Services. This proposal, also proposed by the National Academy of Public Administration, would further remove barriers and improve transparency.

  • Recommendation: The FBI should report regularly to Congress in its semiannual program reviews designed to identify whether each field office is appropriately addressing FBI and national program priorities.

    The FBI supports this recommendation and has already taken steps to ensure field offices address national program priorities. The FBI today has a clear hierarchy of national priorities with the prevention of terrorist attacks at the top. Field offices must allocate all necessary resources to ensuring that all terrorism-related leads are addressed before resources can be dedicated to other priorities. The FBI’s inspection process now evaluates field offices on how well they are complying with the national priorities. On occasions where Headquarters has received indications that a field office is not acting in accordance with the national priorities, an immediate audit was conducted and the problem was promptly corrected.

    The Commission has some lingering concerns related to performance incentives. We agree that agents should be rewarded for “acquiring informants and for gathering and disseminating information,” and we are in the process of changing the criteria on which agents are evaluated to place more emphasis on intelligence-related functions and information sharing.

  • Recommendation: The FBI should report regularly to Congress in detail on the qualifications, status, roles of analysts in the field and at headquarters. Congress should ensure that analysts are afforded training and career opportunities on a par with those offered analysts in other intelligence community agencies.

    The FBI supports this recommendation. The FBI’s Executive Assistant Director for Intelligence has been given personal responsibility for developing and ensuring the health of the FBI intelligence personnel resources. It is important to note that the FBI’s intelligence cadre is not limited to intelligence analysts, but also includes agents, language analysts, surveillance specialists, and others. It takes all of these specialists to perform quality intelligence production at the FBI. The FBI’s plan to create a cradle-to-grave career path for intelligence professionals at the FBI that parallels the one that has existed and functioned so well for our agents and has been codified in our Concept of Operations (CONOP) for Human Talent for Intelligence Production.

Director Mueller said, “As the Commission points out, we have much work still to do, but we have made great progress and continue to move forward in accordance with a clear plan. With the support and understanding of lawmakers and the American people, I am confident that we will successfully complete our transformation and ultimately prevail against terrorists and all adversaries who would do harm to our nation.”

The FBI looks forward to an ongoing public discussion of ways to support further information sharing and collaboration in the Intelligence and Law Enforcement Communities, and thanks the Commission for their public service.