Leadership in Context: Transforming the FBI in an Uncertain World

Uploaded by stanfordbusiness on 13.10.2009

ROBERT MUELLER: When I was first appointed to this when
I was first appointed to this or suggested that I
take this job one of the things you have to do is
have a -- an audience or an interview with the
President of the United States.
Something that doesn't come often.
And I knew -- just about everybody knows George Bush's
of cell phones.
I certainly knew it.
So I go in on my day of the interview and I'm there with the
President and his Chief of Staff.
In the middle of the whole thing, my cell phone goes off.
ROBERT MUELLER: I kid thee not.
And I said to myself, "I'm dead.
That's it.
It's over."
Well, it wasn't.
And it didn't luckily hold me up.
I did find out it was my wife calling me which wasn't --
ROBERT MUELLER: Whenever you give that admonition about
turning off the cell phones it brings that
experience to mind.
Now, I left about eight years ago to take over this position
prior to that I was the U.S. Attorney up here in San
And I'd have occasion to come down here periodically and
talk to
the law school.
When I left eight years ago Stanford was one of the most
prestigious, premier educational institutions in the United
I come back to find that it is nothing more than a typical
football factory.
ROBERT MUELLER: In any event, what I'd like to do -- I'm
happy you called a conversation. What I'd like to
do tonight is talk to you a little bit about where
we've been the last six or seven years, and where we
are today, and where we're going in terms of our
Then talk a little bit about lessons I've learned, mistakes
made in terms of trying to bring the Bureau through this
and the end talk a little bit about what Mike said in terms
the legal environment in which we find ourselves and the
extraordinary importance of the dialogue with regard to the
balancing of national security against privacy, civil
and the like.
Let me start off if I could with a little bit of background
the Bureau.
Mike has told you a little bit about it.
We got 32,000 people now.
Of those 32,000 approximately 13,000 are agents.
We are dispursed.
We have 56 field officers around the country, large offices,
we have 400 resident agencies which are satellite offices so
pretty much cover the United States.
We have overseas now 61 legal attache offices that have
substantially over the last few years and, as Mike pointed
we have a budget of now about $7.5 billion, so we're a
large organization and we have grown rather substantially
the last few years basically in response to what happened on
September 11th.
And for us September 11th was a watershed.
And it was a watershed because it drove us to change rather
dramatically our focus, it required us to change the metrics
it has done so as a result of what happened on September
Prior to September 11th, yes, we had a number of television
shows, we have -- it was all about history and we actually
our hundredth anniversary last year.
But prior to September 11th the American public expected us
to go
out and investigate crimes after they occurred including
terrorist attacks.
Before September 11th you had 1993 bombings of the Twin
Towers of
New York, you had the 1995 Oklahoma City bombings, McVeigh,
several hundred people lost their lives in that, East
bombings of Cobar, the tower bombings in Saudi Arabia, the
bombing of the Cole off Yemen, and every one of these
the American public would look at us and the FBI would go
out, as
we have traditionally done to do the investigation, identify
those responsible, and bring them to justice.
That changed on September 11th and the metric was no longer
yai going out and investigating and bringing the persons to
It was "Why did the FBI let this happen?"
I tend to think in thinking back upon it that part of it may
that the 19 hijackers immediately responsible for what
on September 11th killed themselves in the events of that
And so the focus was not on who was responsible so much
fairly quickly afterwards we had determined that the 19
had killed themselves were immediately responsible.
But why did the CIA, why did the FBI, why did the NSA, why
our intelligence and law enforcement agencies let this
And so the metric came from a change from who have you
who have you indicted, who have you convicted, to how'd you
this happen and the one metric is not let it happen again
and for
us that was a dramatic change.
And a catalyst for change in the Bureau.
And since then I would say that we've gone through maybe
phases of development as a result of what happened on
The first one I would call "triage", the immediate response,
second I would say laying the foundation of a domestic
intelligence agency, and the third and I'll talk about
briefly is
maturation of the intelligence capacity of the Bureau.
Let me start with triage.
In the immediate aftermath of September 11th we had to do a
number of things first of all was priority.
And prioritization means actually prioritizing.
That means determining your priorities as setting them as
priorities and making sure the personnel, the money, the
goes to those particular priorities.
And so the first thing we did is prioritize.
Counterterrorism was number one; counterintelligence,
our secrets was number two; and number three on the national
security side was cyber.
On the criminal side, we had, as Mike pointed out, we have
200 violations probably far more than that we're responsible
We had to prioritize on the criminal side so it was first of
public corruption and secondly civil rights.
And you may ask why do you prioritize those two?
And the quick answer is because if we do not do it, nobody
You cannot count on another agency to investigate the civil
rights abuses or the public corruption that you see in
state, local governments.
The third area on the criminal side was
international/transnational organized crime because we
investigate across state boarders, across national,
boarders, and something that state and local law enforcement
cannot do.
At the same time back in 2001/2002 white collar crime was
You recall we had Enron, we had Health South, we had
WorldCom, we
had Quest, any number of very large frauds perpetrated by
corporations in which investors lost millions and indeed
of dollars so fourth on the criminal side was white collar
and the fifth was violent crime mainly because anybody that'
familiar with the devastation of violent crime on our cities
knows that whatever agency you're in and you contribute to
reduction of violent crime you should.
So first if I think for us to do was to prioritize putting
counterterrorism number one.
We shifted 2,000 agents from the criminal programs over to
1500 of those agents were doing drug cases the other 500
doing smaller, white collar criminal cases.
But we needed those resources to investigate what happened
September 11th and to investigate and follow up on the
series of
threats that we had after September 11th that seemed
and eminent.
The other part was at that time building up what we called "
Terrorism Task Forces" where we had 35 of them before
11th we now have 106.
And they are led by the FBI but contributors are state and
law enforcement, other federal agencies so that we leverage
ability to address terrorism each one of our communities not
with the FBI, not just with federal resources, but also
in the sheriffs and the sheriff's deputies and police
and the others who are so essential to protecting us against
next terrorist attack.
As I said, we built up our legal attache offices overseas in
places that we had not been before, places like Saudi
UAE, Qatar, places in the Middle East where terrorism was
And so we build up the investigative capabilities on the
counterterrorism side and one other factor that came into
then that we recognized that we had to change and that was
presumption prior to September 11th that you did not
anything about your investigations to anybody else and had
reverse that presumption so that whatever information we
discovered in the United States relating to terrorism could
integrated with that intelligence developed by the CIA, NSA,
any of the intelligence communities overseas so that we had
full picture and not just part of the picture.
That is what I call "triage", the first six months to the
At the same time we understood there was an ongoing debate
in the
United States as to whether the FBI should be split.
Take the criminal programs leave it with the FBI; take
counterintelligence, counterterrorism and intelligence and
have a
separate domestic intelligence agency.
Ought to be probably one of the worst ideas for the United
in being effective in addressing terrorism but the fact of
matter is we had to augment our capabilities with building
up a
domestic intelligence capability.
We, over the years to the extent that we have a history of
capability, it has been what I would call a "collection",
the intelligence community jargon.
And that is we have been particularly good in the four areas
basically four areas of collection.
The first area is sources, witnesses, interviews, what the
intelligence community calls "HUMINT", we have been
good also at conducting wires, whether it be criminal wires
what's called Title 3, or national security wires under the
pursuant to an order of the Criminal Intelligence
Whenever we do a wire we do it with the approval -- and by a
I mean interception of substantive conversations -- we do it
the approval of a court whether it be a regular Article 3
or the FISA court.
The third area which is tremendously important to collection
Not necessarily the electronic surveillance but the physical
surveillance, trailing people around, aerial surveillance.
And the fourth area in which we've been particularly good in
past is forensics, DNA, fingerprints, explosives and the
We're good at that, have been good at that for most of our
hundred years.
What we lacked was an intelligence capability and so the
part was putting in place the foundation for an intelligence
agency and that meant hiring approximately a thousand
building up back at headquarters what we call the "
Each of our 56 field offices, field intelligence groups and
putting in place the databases, the search engines that you
to pull the various dots together so it paints a picture of
threat you're trying to intercept.
So you put that into place for the next couple two or three
and then it got to a place which I call "maturation."
It's something that I had missed and the essence of actually
domestic intelligence agency that I had missed at the outset
that is two areas I recall.
One is mind-set and the other is skill-set.
In terms of mind-set we in the Bureau have been reactive
most of
our history and it is an event happened we go in and
And if you asked any of this five, eight, ten years ago
about the
threat from organized crime or the threat from Hezbollah, or
Hamas, or Al-Qaeda, or whatever, we would turn to the number
cases we had open on those particular threats to define the
It was always reactive.
It was what we knew.
What is so much more important though if you're going to
anticipate attacks is understanding what you do not know.
The gaps.
It's one thing to know and be on top of something.
It's another thing to identify a gap of your knowledge,
a threat, identify a gap, and then collect to fill that gap.
And so for us it was if you want to anticipate an attack you
to look at it differently than we had traditionally in the
enforcement mode and that's identifying the gaps in our
in any particular threat.
It can be gangs, it can be MS13, it can be 18th Street Gang,
Taliban Gang here in East Palo Alto, understanding who the
leaders are, understanding the gaps in our knowledge is as
important as anything else if we are to intercept and
that particular threat.
So mind-set was a piece of it and the other piece of it was
building up the expertise.
And by expertise I always thought that an analyst is just an
analyst, is an analyst but the fact of the matter there are
degrees of expertise when you develop a competent domestic
intelligence service that you have to build through.
You have to have reports officers that know how to
the information throughout the intelligence community.
You need domain managers to understand the domain, the
domain for
our office here is Northern California.
What are the threats here?
Nuestra Familia, Mexican Mafia, Sureno, Norteno, white
crime, public corruption across the board, understanding the
domain and the gaps in your knowledge was part of that and
domain manager handles that.
Requirements manager.
All these skill-sets we had to start building and that's
part of
the process that I describe now as maturation.
And so if you look at us at this point we have grown, we
laid the foundation of the domestic intelligence capability
we need but at the same time we have allocated our resources
through the investigations that we have traditionally
If you look at -- as I indicated we had to change our
back in early 2000 -- 2002 right after September 11th.
If you look at those priorities today and through the prism
what is happening throughout the United States today you
will see
that those priorities that we established back then pretty
are and should be the priorities of today.
With the capabilities we have now we're addressing mortgage
in terms of white collar crime we have 2700 -- approximately
cases around the country.
We have approximately 2500 of health care fraud cases around
In addition to mortgage fraud we have any number of
fraud cases security, fraud cases that we're addressing
given the
economic turndown of the last couple of years.
Counterterrorism you can understand is still our number one
priority particularly if you've read the newspapers in the
month, six weeks, two months.
The first case we had was out of Charlotte, an individual by
name of Boyd arrested approximately two months ago with a
of other people.
In the last two to three weeks we had a case out of Dallas,
Texas, an individual sought to blow up a bank building.
Another individual in Springfield, Illinois who sought to
blow up
a federal building and then we had the case in Denver and
York, an individual who was out, according to the papers,
for the ingredients to put together a explosive device using
And so there have been a series of cases in the last six
weeks or
two months that would indicate that we can't take our eye
off the
ball when it comes to -- when it comes to terrorism.
A briefer side on terrorism, the cases that we have here
who are radicalized in a variety of ways but if you look at
we face overseas at this point or domestic you can see that
still face a substantial Al-Qaeda presence in the western
part of
Pakistan, eastern Afghanistan, I always called it
Waziristan, a
federally administered tribal areas who with a intent to
westerners who can assert themselves into western societies
undertake attacks.
You have Al-Qaeda that has expanded in the last couple of
to places like Somalia, Yemen, North Africa, Al-Qaeda
it's called which is still a central threat for us to
You have those here who travel over to be trained and then
have others here in the United States who have been
here whether it be by associates or mentors, or indeed the
Counterterrorism, white collar crime, and lastly I'll spend
moment on violent crime.
Our statistics that we push out every six months have shown
the last several years violent crime is down.
And the fact of the matter is if you look at where we are
and what we can anticipate in the future you will see that
locked up a number of people in the '90s and many of them
going to get out and that's even without the possible 40,000
are going to be released in California given the budget
And these unfortunately often are individuals who have no
other than the skills they picked up in prison and they're
the skills that are marketable in the outside.
And acquaintances that they've met on the inside that will
acquaintances on the outside.
And they're coming out to an economy where even if you have
skill-set it is very difficult to find a job.
So I have very few illusions that the violent crime we've
seen is
going to continue on its downward pace.
Unfortunately I think it will probably begin to rise.
In addressing that, we go back to what is absolutely
essential to
our capability whether it be counterterrorism or just about
threat and that is task forces and working together with
and local law enforcement.
So if you look at where we've been September 11th was a
transforming event for us.
We build up in the triage we moved persons from the criminal
of the house to the national security side of the house but
the threats we see today, particularly domestic threats and
collar arena and the gang arena, we'll be building up our
resources over on the criminal side.
The last note on that public corruption I said was our
number one
priority then number one priority now because if we don't do
nobility will.
Occasionally they get the headlines Jefferson -- Congressman
Jefferson being one, Blagojevich of Illinois being another,
and a
number of you may have read about the arrest of 40 separate
individuals in New Jersey several months ago.
And so that's something you cannot take your eye off of and
now we have a conjunction of events in which the federal
government is pushing out a great amount of money in the
program, the stimulus program and the like through federal,
state, and local entities which, given the amounts that they
have, are to a certain extent invitation to fraud and
And so in addition to what we are doing with the mortgage
crisis what we're doing in the securities fraud, corporate
arena we have the prospect of a lot of work down the road
the moneys flowing from the federal government through these
various state local entities.
If you ask for the future in tells of our programs, if you
for what do we look -- what's the future look like five,
ten, twenty
years down the road, which we try to do, there are a
of factors that contributed to the belief that we will
to grow as a national but more particularly an international
enforcement/national security/intelligence agency.
You read the books by Tom Freedman or read his columns on
impact of globalization he talks about globalization when it
comes to merchandise -- or manufacturing, or financing and
What we has not yet addressed is globalization with it comes
crime, globalization when it comes to terrorism, and the
of terrorists and criminals to jump across borders with ease
commit crimes whether it be terrorism or white collar,
trafficking, trafficking of persons.
And in the future because of globalization and we're not so
insulated as we have been in the past, the oceans no longer
protect us, it'll be in part our mission to be the bridge
state and local law enforcement and our counterparts
which again gets back to why we have built up so many legal
attache offices.
Let me turn to a moment to talk briefly about lessons
learned in
terms of the management aspect of being with the Bureau as
gone through this evolution.
And there are four areas I'll touch on.
The one thing that I'd learned early on but is always re-
day in and day out is the most important thing to have is
And people in at least two ways.
The most important decisions I make are not on a particular
subject matter, particular investigation, or actually when I
a prosecutor a particular prosecution.
The important decisions that I would make at any point in
were people.
Who I promote, who I put into particular positions.
In terms of transforming an organization, the most important
component generally, unless you're high-tech, and very high-
is the people.
And the time you spend -- one spends too little time on
One always should spend more time but it's absolutely
The other aspect of focusing on the people and the persons
this -- at this time is the necessity to in some sense
change a
A culture in the Bureau of investigating after the fact and
applauded, and patted on the back, and described, and
and television commentary as being glorified to an FBI that
focused on particular threats where you don't end up in the
courtroom the next day, you don't end up slapping cuffs on
somebody and have the satisfaction of seeing them go to
trial, be
convicted, and go to jail.
And so agents have joined the bureau with that in mind.
I wanna put people behind bars.
I, as a prosecutor, I love to -- I love what I did.
I loved trying the case and I was satisfied if I got a
But changing that culture so that you understand the
What's primarily important to the American public, not
terrorist attack, preserving our secrets from those who
steal them is a change that is very difficult in the best of
times and difficult also in the worst of times.
Although I will say that after September 11th one of the
effects of September 11th was the understanding by just
everybody in the Bureau that we could not let it happen
And so if we had not had that catalyzing event I do not
we would have made the strides that we've made today to
the culture, to understand the priorities, and to bring
in the Bureau, whether you're an agent, an analyst, a
professional staff person behind the concept that the
public expects us to stop September 11ths and we have to do
even though more often than not it will not result in cuffs
slapped on somebody and somebody going to jail.
But people, and handle the people, and talking about the
and bringing the wonderful people that work in the Bureau
the understand that vision has been a challenge but has been
eased by the fact that everybody after September 11th
that we had to change.
Second area which is tremendously problematic that I had
fully understood, never expected to be problematic, and that
information technology and the integration of information
technology in an organization.
What I come to fine after a -- what is it?
About a hundred and $197 million-mistake is that you have to
your fingers on it and I'll talk about that in a moment.
But the challenge in this technological world is taking an
individual who is knowledgeable in technology on the one
hand and
putting them together and marrying the individual with a
who knows and understands the business practices.
If all you're going to do is digitize a stand business
that's not too bad and that marriage is fairly easy.
If, on the other hand, you want to update and modernize your
business practices and use technology to do it, it is
tremendously difficult.
On the one hand I have the geeks as I call them and they are
affectionately known within the building who know the
On the other hand you have agents who have been and know the
business, who have been in the business for ten, 15, 20, 25
and know the business practices but the marriage is very,
And one of the first big mistakes I made was conning on a
software package thinking it would work and only come to
that there was not -- you did not have that marriage of the
information technologist and the person who understands and
knew -- understood and knew the business practices of the
And it is -- I think it's a huge challenge for anybody in
business who has to upgrade the technology while still
the business at a clip.
Third area is what I would call a combination of delegation
Those of you who are business students there are tons of
out there on execution and execution is important.
And every one of those books read 'em.
They're good 'cause execution -- people can come up with
but executing the ideas is the hard part. And it comes to
intersect somewhat with delegation.
One of the things I recall -- and I'm a strong supporter as
might imagine of the Marine Corps and the training I got in
Marine Corps I wouldn't be here without that training -- but
of the things that I remember is going through officer
school in the Marine Corps and you get in there and you're -
- I
don't know it was ten weeks or whatever it was and you get
in the
third week -- three or four and they start evaluating you.
They evaluate you obviously on your fitness for it.
Can you do it?
They evaluate you on how you're doing on the scholastic part
it and the exams on the like.
And I did pretty well on both of those.
And then they got down to another area called "delegation."
I said, what are you talking about delegation?
And I didn't do well on that.
And I said, well, why are you downgrading me on delegation?
ROBERT MUELLER: They said, because one of the most
important things you will learn as a Marine Corps
officer the your duty in your assignments is the
ability to delegate.
And I say they're intertwined, delegation and execution,
indeed they are.
You have to know how to delegate and you have to know to
whom to
delegate, and you have to know what to delegate if you're
get something executed and I've made any number of mistakes
that regard.
When I first came in this job I read most of the books that
could that would help me be a manager.
Prior to that I have been a lawyer and there is nothing more
apathetical than being a manager than being a lawyer.
ROBERT MUELLER: And so I got the management books and
the management books always talk about the CEO or
the head of an organization should be up on the
balcony and not on the dance floor.
You've read that, you've seen that responsible for strategy,
direction, and all of those good things.
Well, I started to do that for a period of time.
One area I knew I could not delegate and that was terrorism.
Had to brief the President every day for four years and in
briefing the President every day for four years and then
once a
week afterwards you learn you cannot delegate that.
You push it through the organization and you have to be
ready to
That's pretty easy.
But the mistake I made in technology was to rely on advisers
not ask the hard questions, be up in that balcony and say,
and listen to the platitudes about how good it's going to be
without asking the hard questions that inevitably in my own
I knew I should have been asking.
So when it comes to being on the balcony or on the dance
yes, you have to learn when to delegate and leave it to the
floor but there are other areas you have to do you cannot
delegate they're so important that you intimately have to
the ins and outs of them.
That's the third.
The fourth is listening and the importance of listening and
fining ways to listen.
In a position such as mine everybody below you wants to it
you how good things are and finding out how bad things are
is the
real -- is the real challenge.
And it's listening.
One quick anecdote about listening.
Sometime ago when I'd moved from California went to the U.S.
Attorney's Office in Boston and that was pretty much my
supervisory position, I was head of the Criminal Division,
U.S. Attorneys Office in Boston and over a period of time
find if you manage people there are two types of people that
into your office.
Those that wanna come in and talk to you and the other
wanna come in and get a decision or get something done.
And after a period of time if you're busy and you're going
day in
and day out you start asking the question as soon as the
appears in the doorway, say "What's the issue?
Is there something I have to decide or do you wanna talk?"
So over a period of time I got in the habit of asking what's
Well, one night I come home and I come into the kitchen --
ROBERT MUELLER: -- and my wife greets me at the door and
we have a conversation as you would have a dialogue
to which she starts talking to me about what
happened to the kids at school and I'm a little bit
tired and I'd been asking the question all day, so I
say, "Darling, what's the Issue?"
ROBERT MUELLER: And my wife who is gentle and kind all
of a sudden turns into a tigress.
ROBERT MUELLER: I am your wife.
I am not somebody who serves under you.
Don't you ever ask me what the issue is.
You sit there and you listen to me 'til I'm through!
ROBERT MUELLER: It's the absolute truth
ROBERT MUELLER: And I'd like to say that I've learned
the lesson.
I'm not certain she would agree, however.
But apart from a commentary on inter-marital success I would
you that -- it's a lesson to learn.
As somebody who is in a business of running other things you
to solve the problems and you don't spend enough time
And if I have one great failure it is I'll sit down in a
and I'll hear about five minutes of it and then I wanna jump
to a
And the fact of the matter is, I should do more listening.
And so that's a fourth area that I tried to learn in the
last --
in the last several years.
Let me turn for a moment and finish up on the legal side of
house because as Mike points out and as we knew in September
we'd have to build up a domestic intelligence capability and
would have to address our mission in a far different way.
When you're within the court system, when you're doing
cases, the monitor is the court system itself.
You don't get a search warrant without going to a magistrate
laying out the probable cause.
You have a defense counsel that's always questioning what
happened so there's an automatic monitor.
When you're developing intelligence, on the other hand,
there is
no court system monitoring to the extent that you have in
criminal justice system and there is a balance that has to
made day in can day out between national security and civil
I am comfortable with that balance as to how we have
addressed it
over the number of years.
It is part of our history, it is part of our legacy, I may
in a
moment read an excerpt of what we admonish or special agents
if you look back at what has happened in terms of balance
the last several years we have the Patriot Act that people
are --
some people are supportive of, some question.
But the fact of the matter is the Patriot Act dropped the
between the intelligence community on the one hand and the
enforcement community on the other.
Before the Patriot Act one half of the FBI could not talk to
other half of the FBI because one-half of the FBI was in the
criminal arena, the other half was in the intelligence
The information that it gathered by the CIA or NSA overseas
not be shared with the FBI nor could the FBI share with
entities the information that had been developed here.
And so inevitably in each of those agencies you only had a
partial picture of what is happening.
So the Patriot Act -- and it's up for the revisions that
talking about day in and day out now but I am very
and supportive that that is absolute essential of the safety
the country without unduly burdening civil liberties or
Same thing with the debate on the FISA court, Foreign
Intelligence Surveillance Act of what is required in order
for us
to -- by us I mean ourselves and the intelligence community
get an order from the FISA court to intercept conversations
absolutely had to be updated.
Probably will have to be updated every other year
encryption, all
of these things that made it particularly difficult for us
to do
our job if we are to prevent another terrorist attack.
So if you look at the legislation that has been passed, if
look at what we have done in the Bureau since September 11th
comfortable that we have done what we should within the
of the Constitution, the statutes, and the Attorney General
Let me finish with reading you the admonition that we give
agents -- at least an excerpt of the admonition that we give
agents as they come out and get their badges.
"For the past 100 years, the FBI has stood for some of the
of America.
We have disrupted terrorist cells, we have rescued hostages
kidnappers, we have broken the backs of organized criminal
groups, we have put violent criminals and drug dealers
And we have done this by adhering to our motto of 'fidelity,
bravery, and integrity' and by respecting the authority
given to
us under the Constitution.
Today, we are building on that legacy as we focus on our top
priority, preventing another terrorist attack in the United
And it is indeed a time of change in the Bureau but or
never change.
As always, we will protect the security of our nation while
upholding the civil rights guaranteed by the Constitution to
every citizen.
It is not enough to prevent foreign countries from stealing
secrets. We must prevent that happening while still
the rule of law.
It is not enough to stop the terrorists.
We must stop him while maintaining civil liberties.
It is not enough to catch the criminal.
We must catch him while respecting his civil rights.
The rule of law, civil liberties, civil rights, these are
not our
They are what make us better and they are what have made us
better for the past 100 years.
You, each of you, new agents, are charged with upholding
Thank you and I'd be happy to answer any questions that you'
ROBERT MUELLER: You know what this is like?
I'll tell you what this is like.
I go out and visit my office, today I was up in Seattle
my office, and at the end I always say you got any questions
things I oughta know?
And there is dead silence.
The only difference being that there's dead silence when I
ask my
people that because they expect if they ask a question I
like they'll be transferred to Yemen or someplace.
ROBERT MUELLER: But I can't transfer you.
I can't control you.
ROBERT MUELLER: And let me go right over here.
Yes, sir.
I'm sorry.
I was looking for the person with the microphone.
>> Okay.
Thank you.
My name's Joe Sindridge and what I wanted to ask you is with
regards to Vladimir Putin. Is he -- I understand he may be
building a factory in Venezuela to build AK47s.
Is this something you don't know about or should know about?
ROBERT MUELLER: The question was Vladimir Putin building
a factory in Venezuela?
We stay away from that.
That's a little bit too precise for an answer.
ROBERT MUELLER: You know what you learn in this business
is to duck questions.
ROBERT MUELLER: And something like that, even if I did
know the answer I'm not certain in this arena I
could discuss it.
Yes, sir?
Over here in the yellow?
And I think.
>> Hello?
>> (Asking question in the background.)
ROBERT MUELLER: The question is, in my opinion why have
we not had another terrorist incident?
And I attribute it to a number of factors.
The first factor is the going into Afghanistan in the
wake of September 11th and removing the sanctuary for Al-
That was as the result.
Prior to that, training -- recruiting, training, the
11th plot was hatched and organized and run from the
sanctuary of
Afghanistan and removing that sanctuary was the first order
business and appropriately so.
Secondly, the work that the principally the CIA has done
in taking off the leadership of Al-Qaeda.
You look at somebody like ha Khalid Shaikh Mohammed who's
responsible for September 11th, he was -- spent a couple of
in North Carolina in college, he understood the United
computer literate, charismatic, tremendous organizer, a
of bin Laden.
You take somebody like that off the playing field and it is
very difficult to replace them.
And over a series of years the CIA has taken off the mayor
leadership of Al-Qaeda and regardless of how you feel about
various aspects of it it has had a substantial effect on our
ability to prevent another terrorist attack.
And a third area I would say is somewhat what I've described
the vigilance within in country, in joint terrorism task
the ability to work with the rest of the intelligence
to pick up a snippet of informing that would indicate that a
terrorist plot is afoot and to disrupt it before it comes to
Right here in the middle.
Lady in blue.
>> Thanks.
(Asking question in the background.)
ROBERT MUELLER: The question was, we have the 56 field
offices and they're run by a special agent in charge
and you elude to the autonomy they have.
They probably think they have more autonomy than --
ROBERT MUELLER: I could tell you they wish they had more
autonomy than they have but how do we transform?
Part of it is developing leadership over a period of time
leadership that understands the mission and is going to
to that mission it takes a while to replace and build it up.
The only thing that we do which is a -- we learn from the
York Police Department Bill Braden who just took over -- no,
over several years ago Los Angeles Police Department
it in New York which is called ComStat which means pulling
statistic relating to crime by precinct and every week
having a
meeting with the precinct commanders where you confront them
the statistics and confront them with asking them what are
doing to drive down those statistics.
We've documented that.
We call it SPS sessions.
I don't know what it stands for but --
ROBERT MUELLER: Every other week I have four offices on
the video conference and spend two hours, half hour
each, going through what the threat is in each of
those offices and what they're doing to address the
threat, fill the gaps, where are your sources?
Where are you lacking source coverage?
How many Title 3s do you have?
What do you need in terms of electronic surveillance?
What else do you need in support and what are you doing
about it?
How are you prioritizing?
And so it is a give and take.
It gives me an opportunity to learn more about the office,
puts them through a rigorous exercise in preparing for that
also drives the organization.
It's one of the initiatives I think has been particularly
during this period of maturization.
Let me go right here, sir.
>> (Asking question in the background.)
ROBERT MUELLER: An InfraGuard is a program -- I think --
we got I think 70,000 in InfraGuard now is a program
where we have outreached a private industry where we
have a network with private industry focused
principally but not totally on the cyber arena.
And it is exceptionally helpful for us to learn what is
in various companies when it comes to the cyber arena
particularly cyber warfare and cyber intrusions and the like
also as a mechanism that we utilize to pass on information
those who are a member of the InfraGuard program.
So I give it high marks and it's a program that we're
to expand.
One of the issues I did not focus on in this dialogue is the
impact of cyber crime on what we do across the board.
And if you look at the future of the Bureau, one of the
areas for us is going to be addressing cyber.
Cyber attacks, denial service attacks, worms, viruses, any
of pishing schemes, we just yesterday took down a group of
Egyptians and individuals in the United States made over I
70 arrests at this point where we had a pishing scheme that
operated in Egypt and the United States with a number of
here but also a number of victims overseas.
And that is going to be an expanding area of interest for
Yes, sir?
In the blue shirt.
A turquoise shirt.
>> (Asking question in the background.) -- in the wise words
spider man, with power comes responsibility.
How does FBI -- what are some of the checks and balances
internal FBI to prevent the use of power within FBI?
And related to that, what happens when there is corruption,
say, within FBI?
ROBERT MUELLER: The question is, we have a lot of power
in our responsibilities to effect person's lives.
And there's not a one of us that doesn't understand that.
What do we do to prevent that abuse?
Well, I mention two.
First of all, the Attorney General guidelines.
We operate within the Attorney General guidelines,
statutes in the Constitution.
And basically that means we get an allegation, we can do
investigation to determine whether we should do further
And so there are levels of predication that we have to meet
before we institute or utilize additional investigative
The most intrusive investigative tools, listening to
conversations and the like we can only do with the approval
of a
court showing appropriate probable cause.
That's one aspect of it.
Another aspect is a debate I've had with myself since -- to
certain extent since I've started.
To be an agent in the FBI you have to be 23 years old, you
to be three years of work experience, and sparkly background
all the rest of that.
The average age of our graduating class of new agents is 30
almost all have had another career.
You know, when I came in, one of the things that was
and still to a certain extent is problematic is we'd do very
little recruiting on campuses because we want the three
experience and you have to be 23.
And so we're missing a lot of people.
But on the other hand the argument is made and this is the
that I at this -- am persuaded about now is going to your
We have a tremendous amount of power.
We give an agent a badge and a gun and the ability to
impact a person's life.
The most important thing for our people then are judgment,
maturity, and an understanding of the power that we entrust
So I have gone back and forth and we're doing much more
recruiting on college campuses that we've done before but I
think given what you point out the power that we have that
maturity and judgment are absolutely essential in exercising
Yes, sir?
Right -- actually, let me take somebody in back.
In the blue sweater.
Right under the camera.
You can turn around you'll be on camera.
No, no.
The guy in front of you.
>> Okay.
Thank you, sir.
ROBERT MUELLER: And that's only because he had a jacket
Not to worry.
>> So you described how you went from a reactive force to a
proactive force and you also said you have these 32,000
So going from reactive to proactive you have probably to
your speed a lot and especially your speed of internal
Can you maybe give us an insight with these two groups you
you have the geeks and the agents, what mechanisms you have
internally to learn quickly and be ahead of things than just
afterwards looking what happened.
Well, let me say we have a number of agents who are geeks
because we have --
ROBERT MUELLER: When I was talking about it is those
people that are instituting, putting together the
networks, the hardware, the software in order for
you to exchange the information.
We have career paths now.
We bring in people who have the experience in the cyber
arena and
teach 'em how to be agents and do the investigative work.
And so we have a series of career paths where we build --
building in -- are bringing in not only the maturity and the
judgment but a particular degree of expertise what we need.
I'll tell you with weapons of mass destruction we want
we want biologists, we want the sigh -- not the cyber but
Anthrax attacks of 2002 and consequently we bring in persons
that baseline expertise which is in part contributes to the
that the average age of our graduating class is 30.
And within those particular components we have I would say a
fairly good educational and training capability so that we
ahead whether it be cyber or counterterrorism,
counterintelligence that we stay ahead of our adversaries.
One of the areas that we have not done as good a job on as I
would like is developing leadership and leaders.
When you talk about judgment and maturity you also want
leadership and you want -- you need different persons to
come in,
they need differing experience at differing periods in their
Military does a very good job.
We do an okay job but we're putting substantial emphasis on
building and maturing leadership throughout the Bureau for
next six months to the next year.
And that in my mind is as important as anything else we do.
Where we go in how about the gentleman in the blue -- right
You both got glasses
Yes, sir.
The one who went like that.
>> You refer to the separations between the FBI and CIA.
A separation that used to be noted particularly was the FBI
domestic, CIA was overseas.
With the expansion of FBI presence overseas that line must
pretty blurred at times.
And then as a followup, what about liaison with foreign
intelligence organizations.
ROBERT MUELLER: Well, it's actually one in the same
The -- you will find that -- I don't know whether you're in
agency but you probably spent time overseas and have seen
back and forth between the Bureau and the agency prior to
September 11th.
Now we're embedded with the agencies, the agency's embedded
Number two person in my national security division is an
And what you find overseas is you have law -- just about
country has intelligence components and law enforcement
Law enforcement components are always leery of the
components, intelligent components are somewhat leery of the
And so we are very good partners now overseas and
that information has to be shared between us and that we
have to
develop informing from the law enforcement components as
well as
the intelligence components.
If you look at the UK you have MI5, MI6.
MI5 the domestic intelligence, MI6 the CIA, and then you
have the
Mets, Scotland Yard, for instance.
And we maintain relationships with all three of them as does
CIA and we share between us understanding that we cannot let
information develop between the cracks.
One more question.
Right -- yes, sir in.
>> any use for intelligence from the interrogation program
ROBERT MUELLER: That gets into -- I'm gonna give
somebody another question because I can't get
into --
We always -- let me just say, whenever we do a debriefing of
back ward look we learn something.
So you can assume that we learn something. One more.
And the lady in back perhaps.
>> how does the FBI attract the economy, what's happening in
economy, the behavior, the assistance, everything that goes
with it and how does FBI track and factor it and how does
economy factor FBI?
ROBERT MUELLER: Let me -- people ask what contributed to
the collapse of the economy two or three years ago.
Some people are wanting to say it was fraud when you see all
mortgage fraud cases that we have but I think most
observers will say it's a number of factors.
The bailing out of the housing market, a number of factors
contributed to it.
But with that sliver of persons who have committed fraud and
contributed to that we have ongoing investigations and we're
locking them up day in and day out.
And that'll continue to be our role.
Those who committed fraud, they will get the cuffs slapped
them, they will go to jail, and they will serve time.
And with that, thank you very much for the pleasure of being