FBI chief seeks more agents as whistleblower blasts management

FBI Director Mueller told Congress today his agency needs additional agents, money and time as it works to meet its "paramount mission of prevention" in an age of terrorism, the Associated Press reported.

"The FBI must become better at shaping its workforce, collaborating with its partners, applying technology to support investigations, operations and analyses, protecting our information and developing core competencies," Mueller said in remarks prepared for delivery to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Mueller was speaking as President Bush took steps to overhaul the nation's system for terrorism security, nine months after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., complimented Mueller for his candor in responding to the terrorist attacks, particularly for conceding that it is impossible to say if the Sept. 11 attacks might have been prevented. At the same time, he expressed unhappiness that Congress had not been informed about the existence of a memo alerting FBI officials that several suspicious Arabs were training at a U.S. aviation school in Arizona.

In much-anticipated testimony, FBI whistleblower Coleen M. Rowley told lawmakers that money and manpower were the least of the agency's problems. Rowley said the agency's more significant problems involved increasing bureaucracy, acute careerism, excessive management layers, an overabundance of unnecessary paperwork and constant roadblocks preventing agents from effectively handling cases.

"I've heard there is a saying at FBI headquarters: 'Big cases, big problems; little cases, little problems; no cases, no problems,'" Rowley told lawmakers. "The idea that inaction is somehow the key to success manifests itself repeatedly, because up to now the consequences of inaction have not been that apparent, while the opposite has been true for instances when FBI leaders did take some action."

Rowley described an incident where a supervisor gave up his position because of the reams of paperwork required to produce a myriad of needless reports.

"It's one thing to work around the clock on a breaking kidnapping, armored car robbery, terrorist incident, etc., but it's quite another to have to spend hours engaged in completing the myriad of required 'reports' the FBI bureaucracy has spawned in order, at least in part, to justify its existence," Rowley testified.

Rowley recommended that FBI officials implement a new mechanism for handling disagreements between agents and lawyers about pursuing cases.

"Just as a person diagnosed with a serious medical problem often obtains a second opinion before embarking on a course of treatment, FBI investigators ought to be able to pursue a second opinion from a cadre of federal attorneys with greater expertise in terrorism matters than the average assistant United States attorney when the potential consequences are serious and substantial disagreement exists between the investigators and the lawyers," Rowley said.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Going Agile:Revolutionizing Federal Digital Services Delivery

    Here’s one indication that times have changed: Harriet Tubman is going to be the next face of the twenty dollar bill. Another sign of change? The way in which the federal government arrived at that decision.

    Download
  • Cyber Risk Report: Cybercrime Trends from 2016

    In our first half 2016 cyber trends report, SurfWatch Labs threat intelligence analysts noted one key theme – the interconnected nature of cybercrime – and the second half of the year saw organizations continuing to struggle with that reality. The number of potential cyber threats, the pool of already compromised information, and the ease of finding increasingly sophisticated cybercriminal tools continued to snowball throughout the year.

    Download
  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

    Download
  • GBC Issue Brief: The Future of 9-1-1

    A Look Into the Next Generation of Emergency Services

    Download
  • GBC Survey Report: Securing the Perimeters

    A candid survey on cybersecurity in state and local governments

    Download
  • The New IP: Moving Government Agencies Toward the Network of The Future

    Federal IT managers are looking to modernize legacy network infrastructures that are taxed by growing demands from mobile devices, video, vast amounts of data, and more. This issue brief discusses the federal government network landscape, as well as market, financial force drivers for network modernization.

    Download
  • eBook: State & Local Cybersecurity

    CenturyLink is committed to helping state and local governments meet their cybersecurity challenges. Towards that end, CenturyLink commissioned a study from the Government Business Council that looked at the perceptions, attitudes and experiences of state and local leaders around the cybersecurity issue. The results were surprising in a number of ways. Learn more about their findings and the ways in which state and local governments can combat cybersecurity threats with this eBook.

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.