- Robert S. Mueller, III
- Federal Bureau of Investigation
- Press Availablity on the FBI's Reorganization
- Washington, D.C.
- May 29, 2002
When I arrived at the FBI on September 4th, it was already clear that there was a need for change at the Bureau. Recent events such as the Hanssen matter, the McVeigh documents matter and the Wen Ho Lee case all brought to light certain problems that needed to be addressed. And then came the events of September 11. The events of September 11 marked a turning point for the FBI. After 9/11 it was clear that we needed to fundamentally change the way we do business.
As I recently testified, responding to the post-9/11 realities requires a redesigned and refocused FBI. New technologies are required to support new and different operational practices. We have to do a better job recruiting, managing and training our workforce; collaborating with others; and, critically important, managing, analyzing and sharing information. In essence, we need a different approach that puts prevention above all else. Simply put, we need to change and we are changing.
In December I described to you a new Headquarters structure, one designed to support not hinder the critically important work of our employees stationed here and around the world. It is working but obviously more needs to be done.
Today I am presenting for Congressional consideration the second and clearly the most important part of what must be done. It comes after much consultation within the Bureau, with the Attorney General and his Strategic Management Council, with Administration officials, with state and municipal law enforcement officials, and with Members of Congress.
And what I am going to describe does not stand by itself. Much else needs to change if we are to succeed, not the least of which is the new information technology critical to conducting business a different way, critical to analyzing and sharing information on a real time basis. Further, we are becoming better intertwined with our colleagues, particularly the CIA, and I appreciate Director Tenet's willingness to share his analytical resources as we go up the learning curve.
In the end two things have come to symbolize that which we must change. First, what did not happen with the memo from Phoenix points squarely at our analytical capacity. Our analytical capability is not where it should be, but I believe that this plan addresses this.
Second, the letter from Agent Rowley points squarely at the need for a different approach, especially at Headquarters. With that proposition there is no debate.
Let me take a moment to thank Agent Rowley for her letter. It is critically important that I hear criticisms of the organization, including criticisms of me, in order to improve the organization. Because our focus is on preventing terrorist attacks, more so than in the past we must be open to new ideas, to criticism from within and without, and to admitting and learning from our mistakes. I certainly do not have a monopoly on the right answers.
From new priorities, to new resources, to a new structure applying a new approach, I believe we are on the way to changing the FBI. And while we believe these changes to be a dramatic departure from the past, in the end our culture must change with them. Long before me, the Bureau had years of major successes based on the efforts of the talented men and women who make up the FBI. It is a history we should not forget as we evolve to an agency centered on prevention.
And we must never forget that our actions must be undertaken according to a constitutional and statutory framework that protects the rights and privacy of our citizens. That too is part of our culture, representing an appreciation unique to those who enforce the laws. That must not get lost either.
Let me describe to you what I have proposed and then answer your questions.
That is the proposal I am submitting to Congress for its consideration and, I hope, approval. I believe it will help provide the more agile, flexible and focused FBI that we need to meet our primary objective of preventing terrorist attacks. As I said, it is a work in progress - we must continuously re-evaluate where we are and how things are working. And, far more than in the past, we must be open to new idea, to criticism from within and without, and to admitting and learning from our mistakes. As recent events have made all too clear, the world is a dangerous place. Never before has this country depended so heavily on the FBI to protect it at home. I am confident that the talented men and women of the FBI are up to the task and I believe that these changes will help them achieve it.
Let me make one final point before I open up for questions. I know that you will have many questions about the Phoenix EC and other matters that occurred before 9/11. I'd like to take just a minute to explain my approach to such matters. Our primary goal is to prevent the next terrorist attack. I have been focused on looking forward and making the changes I believe are necessary to accomplish that. That does not mean that investigating what happened before isn't important -- it is. And it is being done both by the congressional intelligence committees and by the Department of Justice Inspector General. I look forward to their reports and will take any appropriate actions based on what they find. But I personally have been looking forward and focusing on prevention. I was not here at the time and I have not immersed myself in trying to determine the details of who saw what document when and who said what to whom. That will all be sorted out by the ongoing investigations, but I have chosen to focus my attention on change and prevention.