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Hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee - Law Enforcement and Terrorism

Location: Washington, DC



SEN. DEWINE: Mr. Secretary, Mr. Director, thank you both very much for joining us. Director Mueller, I have two questions, and they're questions that I've asked you, I think, at least in two other hearings. And I'll probably be asking you these same questions at the next hearing. But I think they're very important. I think they're important from an historical point of view, and I think history is going to judge us, frankly, by these two areas. At least these two areas.

One is the whole area, and you've already touched upon this a little bit, but the issue of the computer, where you are with your computer system, the whole technology area. And so my first question is, do you have enough money in this area? Do you have enough money in '03? How are things looking in '04? How are we coming along? That's number one. Because I think it's important that you continue. And if you're not getting enough money from this Congress, we need to know that. That's number one.

Number two is the whole change of the culture and the mission of the FBI that, of course, we have talked about, change from reactive, looking at the crime after it's occurred, trying to solve the crime, to now, the focus, a great deal of the focus of what you do on terrorism and the prevention of terrorism. The shifting of people from one mission to the other mission.

And I've asked you before is to detail for Congress, and for the American people, not just what you're doing, but the other question is, what is not getting done? Because I think we have to lay that before the American people. Lay that before Congress. And we have to constantly analyze every three months, every six months, what aren't we doing? What is the FBI not doing that you have been doing in the past? So we can make value judgments. And so that we understand what assistance is not being given to local law enforcement? What crimes are not being prosecuted? And, you know, we've seen the statistics. We know the numbers. But I think it's helpful if the head of the FBI looks us in the eye and tells us what aren't you doing?

MR. MUELLER: Let me address the first question with regard to the funding of our computer systems. We had pending a reallocation of funds to address a shortfall with regard to our computer systems, and assuming that reallocation is approved by the appropriations committees, then I believe we are where we need to be in 2003 and then we'll see in the 2004 budget. But in our request for the 2004 budget, I do believe we have what is necessary to continue our progress in renovating our information technology systems.

SEN. DEWINE: But let me stop you there. If the reallocation in '03, the year we're in now, is not approved, we will not be where we need to be.

MR. MUELLER: That is correct.

SEN. DEWINE: I mean, let me just be blunt.

MR. MUELLER: That's correct. Yes.

SEN. DEWINE: You have to have that reallocation approved to stay on line of the progress that we would hope to be making.


SEN. DEWINE: I mean, we all know how far behind we are. We all know what sorry state of affairs it was when you came into office, and we're not blaming you for that, but we all understand that.


SEN. DEWINE: And we all -- everybody on this panel has complained about your system. So we want to make sure we understand that. You have to have that reallocation.

MR. MUELLER: We do, the reprogramming of funds that we have proposed. We do need that to continue the progress through this year.

SEN. DEWINE: And you have your request in for '04.


SEN. DEWINE: And you're telling me that the request you have made is adequate.

MR. MUELLER: It is adequate.

SEN. DEWINE: And we're not going to look back in two or three years and say, "Well, that just wasn't enough."

MR. MUELLER: I don't believe that to be the case. I believe that we have looked at what we need to get the job done. We've added $137 million, which was unanticipated. It was substantial. But I am confident that that's what we need to continue our progress.

Now, I have learned -- I have come to learn that as you build information technology systems, you need to integrate them. You have to make certain you have an overall architecture. You have to put the pieces in place. And it is a continuous process.

So I cannot tell you that I will not come up in six months or a year and say, "We're going to have to reprogram other funds or we need an additional infusion of funds to handle a particular capacity." But what we've tried to do is request the funds that we need and we can identify that need, explain that need, and explain why it is going to advance our progress to bringing the FBI into the 21st century when it comes to providing the information technology capacity to the agents.

SEN. DEWINE: All right, my second question --

MR. MUELLER: Your second question as to what we are not doing, I will say that, as I believe I testified last year, I redirected a number of agents -- I think it was 480 -- from doing drug cases to doing counterterrorism. And I know we had discussions -- Asa and I had discussions about back-filling, and there's been some back fill from the DEA. I don't think it's a total back fill.

What we've tried to do is make certain that, with that reassignment, realignment of personnel, no case fell through the cracks. And I believe that is the case. But we are not doing as many drug cases as we have done in the past.

We are more selective in doing a number of other varieties of cases; for instance, bank robberies. We will rarely do a stand-alone bank robbery or a note-pass bank robbery where we did that before. In white-collar crime cases, we are focusing on the larger white-collar crime cases where, in the past, we have done some of the smaller white-collar crime cases. We are not doing it.

We have had to refocus our resources on those priorities that we've established, whether it be in the national security arena or the criminal arena, and make certain that we put our assets towards those resources. I have told, as I've indicated before, that every special agent in charge has the understanding that there should be no counterterrorism lead that goes unaddressed. And that has meant that agents that are assigned to other programs within a particular office are pulled off to do issues relating to counterterrorism in a particular field office.

What I would like to be able to do in the future is be more flexible and more agile in terms of addressing the counterterrorist threat in particular communities when it arises, but do not position agents there to stay there afterwards when the threat has been resolved. So what we're trying to do is be a much more flexible and agile workforce than we've been in the past.

SEN. DEWINE: My time is up. Thank you very much.

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