Director Testifies on FBI Issues Today
Issues of the Day
From Anthrax to Attorney General Guidelines
Yesterday before the House and this morning before the Senate—in both his prepared statement and in questions and answers—Director Robert Mueller talked about a number of key issues involving the FBI today.
He announced, for example, that he has asked the National Academy of Science to conduct an independent review of the scientific approach we used in the anthrax investigation—because of the “importance of science in this case and in cases of the future.” The Director said that investigation “remains open while certain investigative activity winds up” and that more information will be provided when the case is closed. In response to recent financial news, Mueller also said that we’re now investigating more than 1,400 mortgage fraud scams, including 24 large sub-prime lenders.
But the Director’s focus—just a few weeks removed from the FBI’s 100th anniversary celebrations in July—is also clearly on the future.
As you can read for yourself in his testimony, he is determined to get the FBI ready for the threats of tomorrow, whether by recruiting “fresh talent” or by introducing a wave of new technologies and biometric tools that will help us stay ahead of the crime curve and become a “world-class national security organization” driven by intelligence.
The Director spent much of his time talking about two topics that directly impact the success of our future investigative and intelligence work.
The first involves new rules for domestic investigations—called the Attorney General Guidelines—that are in the process of being finalized. The Director laid out the rationale for updating the guidelines, which were first drafted in 1976 and have been revised several times since to address evolving threats and to ensure “that civil liberties are protected as more sophisticated tools became available to counter these threats.”
Among his comments:
- “Special agents have previously depended on several sets of guidelines to guide their investigations. …These included different rules for national security investigations versus criminal investigations.”
- “The new guidelines will replace five separate sets of guidelines with a single set of rules to govern the domestic activities of our employees. …They will give us the ability to be more proactive and the flexibility to address complex threats that do not fall solely under one program. They will eliminate inconsistencies that have the potential to cause confusion and create compliance traps for our employees.”
- “The new guidelines are not designed to give, and do not give, the FBI any broad new authorities. The vast majority of the authorities outlined in the guidelines are not new, but techniques that were permissible under certain circumstances for criminal matters will now also be available for national security matters and vice versa.”
The second issue involves our Strategic Execution Team, or SET. Since 9/11, the Bureau has become a full and active partner in the wider intelligence community, gathering and supplying information based on the needs of government leaders and our partners—locally, nationally, and even globally. The SET initiative is all about standardizing what we do, finding the best practices, and replicating them nationwide to “accelerate improvements in our intelligence capabilities.” The team’s plans have already been implemented in 24 of our 56 field offices; the rollout will be complete by year’s end.