Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

March 26, 2009

Mueller: National security is FBI focus

Filed under: Intelligence and Info-Sharing,Investigation & Enforcement,Terrorist Threats & Attacks — by Philip J. Palin on March 26, 2009

In testimony yesterday before the Senate Judiciary Committee, FBI Director, Robert Mueller, emphasized, “In the aftermath of the September 11, 2001, attacks, counterterrorism became our top priority, and it remains our top priority today. Indeed, our top three priorities – counterterrorism, counterintelligence, and cyber security – are national security related.”

These are not the only priorities pushed by every Senator.  As reported in this morning’s New York Times,  “At issue is whether the country is well served by assigning nearly half of the F.B.I.’s 12,000 agents to terrorism and intelligence work, as has been the case since shortly after the Sept. 11 attacks. That debate has gained steam since the economic crisis, with lawmakers and others criticizing the F.B.I. as not putting enough resources into bank, mortgage and securities fraud, and pointing out that some of the most significant actions have been taken by state prosecutors, rather than federal ones.”

Mueller agreed that the FBI has a role to play in investigation of  financial and securities fraud. “While the FBI is surging to mortgage fraud investigations, our expectation is that economic crimes will continue to skyrocket.”   (Read more from ABC News.)

But the FBI Director tried to redirect most of his answers back to the terrorist threat and the need to renew the Patriot Act. According to the Washington Post,  “Mueller told members of the Senate Judiciary Committee he hopes that the reauthorization of two provisions would be far less controversial than in previous years. One of those provisions, which helps authorities secure access to business records, ‘has been exceptionally helpful in our national security investigations,’  he said. In response to a question from  Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin (D-Md.), Mueller said that his agents had used the provision about 220 times between 2004 and 2007. Data for last year were not yet available, he said. The measure allows investigators probing terrorism to seek a suspect’s records from third parties such as financial services and travel and telephone companies without notifying the suspect.”

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Comment by William R. Cumming

March 26, 2009 @ 9:32 am

I will skip Patriot Act extension on this comment. My early reaction to that legislation was documented early on and available if anyone wants my brief summary of that piece. Suffice to state that most of it was proposed and defeated in 1995 and was off-the-self. It is interesting however much was made of the Gorelick Memo of 1995 in erecting the “Wall” between the intelligence and criminal investigation community that was not analyzed closely by the 9/11 Commission in my judgement tracks in part to SCOTUS RULE 6E ruling in EXXON that civil division in DOJ could not be given access to Grand Jury testimony to follow up with civil fraud cases. A devastating ruling to good government and probably in part a cause of not stopping 9/11. If the GRAND JURY testimony from the first WTC bombing had been given to the CIA by DOJ a better understanding of AQ would have happened. Also Moussaoui computer might have been opened and read by FBI and Intel.

All that aside, the problems identified in the post and Mueller’s testimony is slightly off base. The reorganization of the FBI announced by Mueller in May 2002 has largely failed. Not only does the FBI not do its job in Counterterrorism and Cyberfraud, but it no longer does its criminal investigation work competently. This is an organization crying for more oversight but I guess all those great FBI files with their derogatory information about most of us continue to strike fear into those that would give oversight of that organization. It is certain that the FBI should never be the adjudicator of that information. Although EO 10450 signed by IKE badly needs reform at least it prevented the FBI from being the grantor/adjudicator of all personnel security clearances. The FBI record on organized crime and even drug war issues is an amazingly bad record yet to be documented but stemming from Hoover’s fear that his organization would be corrupted if it got into that business. Also the religious affiliation of the FBI including all of its 32,000 personnel should be much more diverse. Mormons and Catholics apparently still dominate the heirarchy. Why?

Pingback by Drifting back to September 10th | Homeland Security Watch

April 9, 2009 @ 3:24 am

[…] has re-assigned people from counter-terrorism to mortgage fraud, and the agency’s director has to reassure congress that the FBI cares about […]

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