Home News Testimony USA PATRIOT Act
  • Robert S. Mueller, III
  • Director, Federal Bureau of Investigation
  • Federal Bureau of Investigation
  • Before the United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary
  • Washington DC
  • May 24, 2004

Good morning Mr. Chairman, Senator Leahy, and Members of the Committee. I am pleased to be here today to update you on the FBI's substantial progress in the counterterrorism and intelligence arenas since my last appearance before the Committee. I would also like to acknowledge that the progress the FBI has made in reforming our counterterrorism and intelligence programs is due in no small part to the enactment of the USA PATRIOT Act.

Every day, the men and women of the FBI demonstrate their determination to fulfill the great responsibility that you, and the public, have entrusted to them. As a result, the FBI has made steady progress in meeting our highest priority of preventing terrorism. The terrorist threat presents complex challenges. Terrorists move easily across international borders, use sophisticated technology to recruit, network, and communicate, and finance their operations with elaborate funding schemes. Above all, they are patient. They are methodical. They are determined to succeed.

But the FBI is equally determined to succeed. To defeat these threats, the FBI must have several critical capabilities: First, we must develop intelligence about terrorist activity and use that intelligence to disrupt their plans. Second, we must be global – we must work closely with our counterparts at home and abroad to develop and pool our collective knowledge and expertise. Third, we must use cutting-edge information technology to collect, analyze, manage, and share our information effectively. Most importantly, we must work within the framework of the Constitution, protecting our cherished civil liberties as we work to protect the American people.

Today, I would like to give you a brief overview of the steps we have taken to put these critical capabilities in place by reforming our counterterrorism and intelligence programs, as well as overhauling our information technology. Before I begin, however, I would like to acknowledge that none of our successes would have been possible without the extraordinary efforts of our partners in state and municipal law enforcement and our counterparts around the world. The Muslim, Iraqi, and Arab-American communities have also contributed a great deal to the war on terror. On behalf of the FBI, I would like to thank these communities for their assistance and for their ongoing commitment to preventing acts of terrorism. The country owes them a debt of gratitude.

PATRIOT ACT

Mr. Chairman, for over two and a half years, the PATRIOT Act has proved extraordinarily beneficial in the war on terrorism and has changed the way the FBI does business. Many of our counterterrorism successes, in fact, are the direct results of provisions included in the Act, a number of which are scheduled to "sunset" at the end of next year. I strongly believe it is vital to our national security to keep each of these provisions intact. Without them, the FBI could be forced back into pre-September 11 practices, attempting to fight the war on terrorism with one hand tied behind our backs.

Let me give you just a few examples that illustrate the importance of the PATRIOT Act to our counterterrorism efforts:

First and foremost, the PATRIOT Act – along with the revision of the Attorney General's investigative guidelines and the 2002 decision of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review – tore down the wall that stood between the intelligence investigators responding to terrorist threats and the criminal investigators responding to those same threats.
• Prior to September 11, an Agent investigating the intelligence side of a terrorism case was barred from discussing the case with an Agent across the hall who was working the criminal side of that same investigation. For instance, if a court-ordered criminal wiretap turned up intelligence information, the criminal investigator could not share that information with the intelligence investigator – he could not even suggest that the intelligence investigator should seek a wiretap to collect the information for himself. If the criminal investigator served a grand jury subpoena to a suspect's bank, he could not divulge any information found in those bank records to the intelligence investigator. Instead, the intelligence investigator would have to issue a National Security Letter in order to procure that same information.

• The removal of the "wall" has allowed government investigators to share information freely. Now, criminal investigative information that contains foreign intelligence or counterintelligence, including grand jury and wiretap information, can be shared with intelligence officials. This increased ability to share information has disrupted terrorist operations in their early stages -- such as the successful dismantling of the "Portland Seven" terror cell -- and has led to numerous arrests, prosecutions, and convictions in terrorism cases.

• In essence, prior to September 11th, criminal and intelligence investigators were attempting to put together a complex jigsaw puzzle at separate tables. The Patriot Act has fundamentally changed the way we do business. Today, those investigators sit at the same table and work together on one team. They share leads. They fuse information. Instead of conducting parallel investigations, they are fully integrated into one joint investigation.

• Because of the creation of the Terrorist Threat Integration Center, and because the FBI has dramatically improved its information sharing with the CIA, the NSA, and a host of other federal, state, local and international partners, our resources are used more effectively, our investigations are conducted more efficiently, and America is immeasurably safer as a result. We cannot afford to go back to the days when Agents and prosecutors were afraid to share information.

Second, the PATRIOT Act gave federal judges the authority to issue search warrants that are valid outside the issuing judge's district in terrorism investigations. In the past, a court could only issue a search warrant for premises within the same judicial district – yet our investigations of terrorist networks often span multiple districts. The PATRIOT Act streamlined this process, making it possible for judges in districts where activities related to terrorism may have occurred to issue search warrants applicable outside their immediate districts.

In addition, the PATRIOT Act permits similar search warrants for electronic evidence such as email. In the past, for example, if an Agent in one district needed to obtain a search warrant for a subject's email account, but the Internet service provider (ISP) was located in another district, he or she would have to contact an AUSA and Agent in the second district, brief them on the details of the investigation, and ask them to appear before a judge to obtain a search warrant – simply because the ISP was physically based in another district. Thanks to the PATRIOT Act, this frustrating and time-consuming process can be averted without reducing judicial oversight. Today, a judge anywhere in the U.S. can issue a search warrant for a subject's email, no matter where the ISP is based.

Third, the PATRIOT Act updated the law to match current technology, so that we no longer have to fight a 21st-century battle with antiquated weapons. Terrorists exploit modern technology such as the Internet and cell phones to conduct and conceal their activities. The PATRIOT Act leveled the playing field, allowing investigators to adapt to modern techniques. For example, the PATRIOT Act clarified our ability to use court-ordered pen registers and trap-and-trace devices to track Internet communications. The Act also enabled us to seek court-approved roving wiretaps, which allow investigators to conduct electronic surveillance on a particular suspect, not a particular telephone – this allows them to continuously monitor subjects without having to return to the court repeatedly for additional authorizations. This technique has long been used to investigate crimes such as drug trafficking and racketeering. In a world in which it is standard operating procedure for terrorists to rapidly change locations and switch cell phones to evade surveillance, terrorism investigators must have access to the same tools.

In a final example, the PATRIOT Act expanded our ability to pursue those who provide material support or resources to terrorist organizations. Terrorist networks rely on individuals for fund-raising, procurement of weapons and explosives, training, logistics, and recruiting. The material support statutes allow investigators to aggressively pursue and dismantle the entire terrorist network, from the financiers to those who carry out terrorist plans. By criminalizing the actions of those who provide, channel, or direct resources to terrorists, the material support statutes provide an effective tool to intervene at the earliest possible stage of terrorist planning. This allows the FBI to arrest terrorists and their supporters before their deadly plans can be carried out.

For instance, the FBI investigated a case in Charlotte, North Carolina, in which a group of Lebanese nationals purchased mass quantities of cigarettes in North Carolina and shipped them to Michigan for resale. Their scheme was highly profitable due to the cigarette tax disparity between the two states. The proceeds of their smuggling were used to fund Hezbollah affiliates and operatives in Lebanon. Similarly, the FBI investigated a case in San Diego in which subjects allegedly negotiated with undercover law enforcement officials the sale of heroin and hashish in exchange for Stinger anti-aircraft missiles, which they indicated were to be sold to Al Qaida. In both cases, the material support provisions allowed prosecutors to charge the subjects and secure guilty pleas and convictions.

Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee, the importance of the PATRIOT Act as a valuable tool in the war against terrorism cannot be overstated. It is critical to our present and future success. By responsibly using the statutes provided by Congress, the FBI has made substantial progress in its ability to proactively investigate and prevent terrorism and protect innocent lives, while at the same time protecting civil liberties.

COUNTERTERRORISM AND INTELLIGENCE PROGRAM REFORMS

Let me turn for a few moments to the progress the FBI has made in strengthening and reforming its counterterrorism and intelligence programs to support its number one goal of terrorism prevention. Today, the FBI is taking full advantage of our dual role as both a law enforcement and an intelligence agency. Let me give you just a few examples of the progress we have made:

• We have more than doubled the number of counterterrorism Agents, intelligence analysts, and linguists.

• We expanded the Terrorism Financing Operations Section, which is dedicated to identifying, tracking, and cutting off terrorist funds.

• We are active participants in the Terrorist Threat Integration Center and the Terrorist Screening Center, which provides a new line of defense against terrorism by making information about known or suspected terrorists available to federal, state, and local law enforcement.

• We have worked hard to break down the walls that have sometimes hampered our coordination with our partners in federal, state and local law enforcement. Today, the FBI and CIA are integrated at virtually every level of our operations. This cooperation will be further enhanced when our Counterterrorism Division co-locates with the CIA's Counter Terrorist Center and the multi-agency Terrorist Threat Integration Center.

• We expanded the number of Joint Terrorism Task Forces (JTTF) from 34 to 84 nationwide.

• We created and refined new information sharing systems, such as the National Alert System, that electronically link us with our domestic partners.

• We have sent approximately 275 FBI executives to the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University to receive training on executive leadership and strategic change.

Recognizing that a strong, enterprise-wide intelligence program is critical to our success across all investigations, we have worked relentlessly to develop a strong intelligence capability and to integrate intelligence into every investigation and operation across the FBI:

• We stood up the Office of Intelligence, under the direction of a new Executive Assistant Director for Intelligence. The Office of Intelligence sets unified standards, policies, and training for analysts, who examine intelligence and ensure it is shared with our law enforcement and intelligence partners. The Office of Intelligence has already provided over 2,600 intelligence reports and other documents for the President and members of the Intelligence Community.

• We established a formal analyst training program. We are accelerating the hiring and training of analytical personnel, and developing career paths for analysts that are commensurate with their importance to the mission of the FBI.

• We developed and are in the process of executing Concepts of Operations governing all aspects of the intelligence process – from the identification of intelligence requirements to the methodology for intelligence assessment to the drafting and formatting of intelligence products.

• We established a Requirements and Collection Management Unit to identify intelligence gaps and develop collection strategies to fill those gaps.

• We established Reports Officers positions and Field Intelligence Groups in the field offices, whose members review investigative information – not only for use in investigations in that field office – but to disseminate it throughout the FBI and among our law enforcement and Intelligence Community partners.

With these changes in place, the Intelligence Program is established and growing. We are now turning to the last structural step in our effort to build an intelligence capacity. In March, I authorized new procedures governing the recruitment, training, career paths and evaluation of our Special Agents – all of which are focused on developing intelligence expertise among our agent population.

The most far-reaching of these changes will be the new agent career path, which will guarantee that agents get experience in intelligence investigations and with intelligence processes. Under this plan, new agents will spend an initial period familiarizing themselves with all aspects of the Bureau, including intelligence collection and analysis, and then go on to specialize in counterterrorism, intelligence or another operational program. A central part of this initiative will be an Intelligence Officer Certification program that will be available to both analysts and agents. That program will be modeled after – and have the same training and experience requirements as – the existing programs in the Intelligence Community.

INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY IMPROVEMENTS

All the progress the FBI has made on all investigative fronts rests upon a strong foundation of information technology. Over the past two and a half years, the FBI has made tremendous efforts to overhaul our information technology, and we have made significant progress.

• Over 1,000 counterterrorism and counterintelligence FBI Headquarters employees have been provided with access to Top Secret/Sensitive Compartmented Information (TS/SCI) information at their desks.
• We implemented the Wide Area Network and the Enterprise Operations Center on schedule in March 2003.

• We improved data warehousing technology to dramatically reduce stove-piping and cut down on man-hours that used to be devoted to manual searches.

• The Full Site Capability deployment began in February of this year, and was completed on April 29th. Altogether, nearly 30,000 workstations have been converted to the new Trilogy baseline software and new email system.

• We now have a permanent Chief Information Officer and Chief Technology Officer, who oversee the development and management of all IT projects and systems throughout the FBI. It is important to keep in mind that Trilogy is not the FBI's sole IT system – the FBI has over 200 IT systems, all of which must be maintained, enhanced when necessary, and certified and accredited for security.

As you know, during the past year we have encountered some setbacks regarding the deployment of Trilogy's Full Site Capability (FSC) and the Virtual Case File. Our goal is to deliver Virtual Case File capabilities by the end of this year. You are aware that last week, the National Research Council of the National Academies (NRC) released a report reviewing the Trilogy IT Modernization program. The FBI commissioned this review as part of our ongoing efforts to improve our capabilities to assemble, analyze and disseminate investigative and operational data both internally and externally with other intelligence and law enforcement agencies.

Many of the NRC's recommendations have already been implemented or are a work in progress. The FBI has repeatedly sought outside evaluation and advice throughout its IT modernization efforts and will continue to do so. The NRC report specifically noted that the counterterrorism mission requires extensive information sharing, and recommended that the FBI involve other agencies in its modernization program. We will continue to work closely with other Department of Justice Agencies and members of the Homeland Security and Intelligence Communities to ensure the FBI has the right technology to support information sharing and other mission requirements.

CONCLUSION

With our counterterrorism, intelligence, and information technology initiatives firmly in place, the FBI is moving steadily forward, always looking for ways to evolve and improve so that we remain a step ahead of our enemies. We are looking at ways to assess and adjust our resource needs based on threats, in order to ensure that we have the personnel and resources to meet and defeat all threats.

Mr. Chairman, I would like to commend the men and women of the FBI for their hard work and dedication – dedication both to defeating terrorism and to upholding the Constitution. They have embraced and implemented the counterterrorism and intelligence reforms I have outlined for you today and they are committed to upholding their duty to protect the citizens of the United States.

Mr. Chairman, thank you again for the Committee's support of the FBI and for the opportunity to be here this morning.

I would be happy to answer any questions you might have.

 
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