hen the Senate Judiciary Committee grilled FBI Director Robert Mueller in June 2002 about the bureau's failure to follow up on clues that might have helped prevent the Sept. 11 attacks, Mueller said he had made some changes, which include a new deputy and new section chiefs throughout the agency. Among other things, he told the lawmakers, he had appointed a new chief of counterterrorism, Pasquale "Pat" D'Amuro, who had previously served as head of the FBI's joint terrorism task force and was an "expert in al Qaeda."
Today, fighting terrorism is the FBI's top priority. Staffing is up 36 percent, Mueller told another Senate committee this year, and specialized new units are monitoring threats, probing the financing of terrorist operations, analyzing terrorist communications, and more. Field agents are being trained in counterterrorism. And the FBI expanded its joint terrorism task forces from 35 before the Sept. 11 attacks to 66 today. Federal, state and local officials use the task forces to share information and work together to prevent terrorist attacks.
D'Amuro, the man in charge of all this new activity, is a career FBI agent who grew up in upstate New York. He had the usual FBI experiences of investigating bank robberies, fraud, organized crime, drug trafficking and the like. But his later experience was far from usual. He investigated some of the world's best-known crimes-the first bombing of the World Trade Center in 1993; the truck bombings of two U.S. embassies in Africa in 1998; the bombing of the USS Cole in Yemen in 2000; and the Sept. 11 attacks.
Observers say D'Amuro's street experience is one of the strengths he brings to his job. At the same time, management skills will be critical in directing an operation that has ramped up rapidly.
A new wrinkle developed this year with the formation of the Terrorist Threat Integration Center, which will include elements of the Homeland Security and Defense departments, the FBI's counterterrorism division and the CIA's counterterrorism center. The center will fuse and analyze intelligence from a variety of federal agencies.