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USA Today Editorial

Washington, D.C. December 12, 2002
  • FBI National Press Office (202) 324-3691

USA Today Editorial
By FBI Director Robert S. Mueller, III

This week, the Joint Intelligence Committee released a report containing a number of significant recommendations for improving our nation's counterterrorism efforts. The FBI agrees with the committee's assessment that many of the FBI's counterterrorism and counterintelligence functions required improvement. However, the FBI has made significant changes since 9-11 in an effort to prevent future terrorist attacks and protect the American people.

Last December, I announced a comprehensive reorganization to strengthen our counterterrorism and counterintelligence units. In addition to redirecting the efforts of our Special Agents, we have hired more than 330 additional contract linguists and language specialists, increasing our ability to translate Middle Eastern languages by more than 200%. Before 9-11 we were conducting 70 full field investigations into Al Qaeda in the U.S. Today we are conducting more than 340 investigations, and our newly established Foreign Terrorist Tracking Task Force has identified more than 200 known or suspected terrorists.

We have also moved decisively to ensure information gets into the hands of the people who need it to protect Americans. The FBI has established Joint Terrorism Task Forces in each of our 56 field offices to strengthen information sharing with federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies. We have established a National Joint Terrorism Task Force at FBI Headquarters to aggressively pursue intelligence leads and to coordinate intelligence gathering among more than 30 federal and local agencies. We have doubled the resources we devote to analyzing intelligence data, and we have created an Office of Intelligence to ensure that intelligence is shared both within the FBI and with the rest of the US government.

We have also accelerated the implementation of Trilogy, our urgently needed technology upgrade program. Trilogy will provide the capabilities needed to support priority cases and will enhance information access and analysis in all FBI offices.

Since its founding in 1908, the FBI has protected this country through two World Wars, the Cold War, and other domestic and international crises. It adapted, as needed, to the challenges of espionage, organized crime, prohibition, civil rights upheavals, and war. For nearly 100 years, the FBI's ability to collect, analyze, and act on information has made it the world's premiere law enforcement agency. The FBI remains uniquely positioned with experts to simultaneously handle criminal, terrorism and counterintelligence matters - all of which are inextricably woven together.

The Bureau has adapted to meet the needs of our country through every national crisis of the past century. We are committed to building on this expertise and experience as we meet the threat of international terrorism and fulfill what always has and always will be our most fundamental mission: to protect and serve the American people.