Home News Speeches Preventing Terrorist Attacks
  • Robert S. Mueller, III
  • Director
  • Federal Bureau of Investigation
  • West Virginia Homeland Security Conference
  • Shepherdstown, West Virginia
  • November 10, 2003

Thank you. I also want to thank Senator Rockefeller for bringing us together today at this important homeland security summit. It is a pleasure to be here.

The FBI is indeed lucky to have a very special relationship with West Virginia. As you know, our Headquarters are in downtown D.C., but in many ways West Virginia is our second home. Clarksburg is home to our Criminal Justice Information Services Division. Fairmont hosts the Internet Fraud Complaint Center. And West Virginia University is a very close partner, having worked with us in designing the nation’s first degree programs in forensic identification. Thousands of FBI employees and their families work and live in West Virginia, and they are just as committed, as you are, to keeping this state safe and free.

I want to begin by thanking everyone here for serving on the front lines of homeland security. Dealing with terrorist threats is not the job many of you signed up for – but you have met the challenge. Together we are out there every day tracking terrorist threats and ensuring the safety and the security of your communities. And, I know that many agencies are doing all of this with reduced budgets and even reduced workforces. Thank you for what you are doing to protect West Virginia and to protect America.

West Virginia does have a number of special areas of concern in terms of homeland security.

You have a number of federal facilities, and I know that you have already coordinated with them on potential emergency response efforts.

In Charleston, first responders have been working closely with the local chemical industry to ensure that they are prepared for any contingency. A Jefferson County postal facility had its ow – – n biological weapons scare recently, with white powder that thankfully did not turn out to be Anthrax.

These are indeed difficult times. But, thankfully, West Virginia is ahead of the curve in many ways. You quickly stood up emergency plans in the wake of 9-11. You already have outstanding partnerships among federal, state and local agencies, and you are able to draw on the resources of other local federal agencies.

We are all concerned about how our agencies would operate in response to a crisis, and specifically to a large-scale terrorist incident. But today I want to talk to you about the FBI’s – along with state and local law enforcement’s – number one priority. Since 9/11 there has been a shift from law enforcement to determining what we can do to prevent the next terrorist attack.

The FBI participates in a number of projects in West Virginia to accomplish this goal. Our most important anti-terrorism tool is the West Virginia Joint Terrorism Task Force, which was stood up in March. Of course, the truth is that the FBI was working in close partnership with West Virginia officials long before that. We worked hand-in-hand to prepare for emergencies that might arise as a result of Y2K, and those relationships grew stronger after 9-11. The West Virginia JTTF has members from state and local police, fire departments, and other local agencies. It has already participated in several field training exercises with first responders and industry, including a Weapons of Mass Destruction exercise.

The West Virginia JTTF is but one of 50 JTTFs that we have added since 9-11, bringing our total nationwide network up to 84. We know that you are the ones on the front lines, gathering vital intelligence and protecting your communities. The JTTFs play a critical role in getting that information back to FBI Headquarters and disseminating it to our partners around the country.

Our local InfraGard Chapters help us accomplish a similar goal. InfraGard is a partnership between private industry and the FBI to share information that will help protect critical information systems and infrastructure. West Virginia has its own InfraGard chapter that plays a vital role in this effort. Last summer's blackout in the Northeast and Midwest was a wake-up call to the vulnerability of our systems to accidental shutdowns, much less coordinated attacks. And that is why our InfraGard Chapters are working daily to address threats from hackers, organized crime, industrial espionage, terrorism, foreign intelligence agencies, and others.

The Internet Fraud Complaint Center in Fairmont is also doing its part for Homeland Security. Over the past three years, the Center has evolved as a gateway for incoming intelligence on cyber crime matters, including: computer intrusions, identity theft, economic espionage, child pornography, and a growing list of internationally spawned Internet fraud matters. The Center is now receiving more than 10,000 complaints per month, and last year, it referred more than 48,000 fraud complaints to law enforcement.

You may ask that this has do with homeland security. The fact is that the new millennium has seen the dawn of an unusually dangerous convergence of terrorist, intelligence, and criminal threats, all using the Internet. With financial systems, power grids, and other critical infrastructure at stake, we must guard against cyber threats as seriously as we guard against bomb threats.

In addition to physical threats and cyber attacks, we must also be prepared for biological threats – both in terms of prevention and response. In this region, we have a unique effort called the Strategic Medical Intelligence Program. The program is partnership between the FBI and area doctors to combat terrorism by sharing information that could prevent or contain a biological attack. The effort includes doctors with terrorism expertise from UPMC, the West Penn-Allegheny Hospital System, West Virginia University, and Marshall University, among others. These doctors, like the members of our JTTFs and InfraGard chapters, have been given clearance to receive sensitive information from the FBI, and, in turn, they will coordinate with us in responding to unusual incidents – for example, a patient who appears to have smallpox – which could signify a terrorist attack. This pilot program has been so successful that we are hoping to extend it to other areas of the country.

The West Virginia JTTF is also working with the State Department of Health and Human Resources, the U.S. Attorney's Offices, and other State agencies to conduct six regional sessions on forensic medical training. These two-day sessions are designed to improve the working relationships between law enforcement and public health officials in addressing bioterrorism.

As I mentioned earlier, West Virginia is also home to one of the FBI's crown jewels – the Criminal Justice Information Services Divison, or CJIS. It sets the standard for criminal databases. CJIS's fingerprint database, in particular, is the envy of law enforcement agencies around the world.

That database is now helping us to track down terrorists as well as criminals. For example, CJIS now has “flyaway” teams that travel around the world to load fingerprints into the system. The teams have gathered prints from terrorists and military detainees, and performed the sad duty of identifying the victims of terrorist attacks.

The FBI also has a number of other nationwide and international partnerships that are helping protect West Virginia and the rest of the nation.

Because criminals and terrorists now operate at every level – local, regional, global – we have to fight back at every level. One of our most important missions since 9-11 has been to strengthen our partnerships at home. I have already talked about how we have strengthened our partnerships with state and local agencies. However, the truth is that we also had to strengthen our relationships with our partners in the Intelligence Community, particularly the CIA. Prior to 9-11, our two agencies were legally prohibited from cooperating in many ways. Most critically, we were not allowed to share much of our terrorism-related information. Now, thanks to the U.S.A. Patriot Act, those walls have come down. The FBI and CIA are working together in ways that were impossible before 9-11.

From my daily morning briefings with CIA officers and Director George Tenet to the widespread assignment of executives, Agents, and analysts between the two agencies since 9/11, the FBI and the CIA have become integrated at virtually every level of our operations.

Just as we have developed better relationships here at home with partners such as the CIA, we have also strengthened our relationships with our partners overseas. Let me just give you an example of how we are now working with law enforcement agencies from around the world.

In May, a United States scientific research station in Antarctica asked for our help. Their systems had been hacked into and their data was corrupted. Normally, we would send Agents out to the scene to investigate. But, because of the subfreezing temperatures, it was impossible to land in Antarctica for another six months.

Working from somewhat warmer climes here, our investigators were able to trace the source of the intrusion to a server in a trucking company outside Pittsburgh. From there, we identified two Romanian suspects. And, with the help of the Romanian authorities, they were arrested outside Bucharest shortly thereafter.

Today, cases such as these have become the rule rather than the exception for the FBI. Technology has made the world smaller. And in this environment, the traditional distinctions between organized crime, cyber crime, espionage, and terrorism have broken down. Organized crime may launder money for terrorists. Credit card fraud may be perpetrated by the Russian mafia or by al Qaeda operatives. In fact, unlike the old mafia, al Qaeda actually has training manuals on the subject.

That is why the FBI, like many institutions, has gone global. In 1940, we established our first international office. Today, we have 46 such offices around the world, in locations from Riyadh to Rome and Tokyo to Tel Aviv. And, increasingly, these offices are helping to stop crime and terrorism from being exported to our shores. These are some of the actions we in the FBI are taking to prevent terrorist attacks. But, as first responders, many of you must consider the effect of a potential attack.

If a major homeland security incident were to take place, we want to be there with West Virginia’s first responders – handling the crisis, evacuating people, helping victims and keeping order. People will turn to their local police and fire departments for help. We will be there beside you. Setting up joint operations centers, as we did at the Pentagon and World Trade Center. Cooperating in the investigation as we did in Maryland and Virginia during last year’s sniper attacks. Bringing all our resources to bear to protect the public and to bring those responsible to justice.

In October of last year, newspaper reports praised the sniper task force for its coordinated investigation and quick sharing of intelligence and information. Sadly, the past two years have brought too many opportunities for us to do exactly that. But we have learned from each incident, and we have done training exercises, such as those yesterday, to further refine our skills. And all the work we have done to build partnerships and relationships through our JTTFs, InfraGard, and other initiatives will help ensure our response is strong and unified.

More than ever, we know that success depends on an extensive network of partnerships and alliances. In the future, the FBI can only achieve success by continuing to develop relationships with our partners locally, nationally, and internationally.

We discuss homeland security in the sense of crisis management, technical resources, personnel training, and coordinated emergency planning. But the heart of homeland security, and our primary mission at the FBI, is making sure people feel safe enough to run their errands, drive to their jobs, and live their normal lives. Each of you in this room contributes to that goal. You worry so that others do not have to. Thank you for all that you do to protect your communities, and God Bless you and the work you do.

 
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