FBI streamlines operations to focus on counterterrorism

The FBI will eliminate its investigative services division and create a new organizational structure focused on fighting terrorism, agency officials announced Monday.

The overhaul creates four new executive assistant director positions focused on the following areas: criminal investigations; counterterrorism and counterintelligence; administration; and coordination among federal, state and local law enforcement agencies. Each of the FBI's 11 divisions will report to one of the four new assistant directors. The agency will also add two new computer security branches.

The reforms, which were recommended by the Justice Department's Strategic Management Council, are designed to "increase the emphasis in counterterrorism, counterintelligence, cybercrimes and relations with state and local law enforcement," according to an FBI statement. Agents working in the FBI's investigative services division, which performs assessments of threats, will be reassigned under the new organizational structure.

Last month, Attorney General John Ashcroft announced a major reorganization of the Justice Department and its bureaus, including the FBI and the Immigration and Naturalization Service. Ashcroft said counterterrorism is now the department's top priority.

"The attacks of Sept. 11 have redefined the mission of the Justice Department," Ashcroft said during the Nov. 8 announcement. "Defending our nation and defending the citizens of America against terrorist attacks is now our first and overriding priority."

FBI officials said that after the reorganization outlined Monday is completed, the agency will launch a second phase, in which it will consolidate duplicative functions and move 10 percent of the department's headquarters positions to field offices. The move is expected to save 10 percent of the Justice Department's budget. The money will be shifted to counterterrorism efforts.

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