FBI set to unveil reorganization plans
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Amid sharp criticism over intelligence failures before September 11, the FBI is set to unveil details of a reorganization that will focus on preventing terrorism.
U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft and FBI Director Robert Mueller are scheduled to discuss the changes at a Wednesday afternoon news conference.
"This is a completely new way of doing business," one government official said Tuesday. "The change is a cultural one. We are shifting to analysis and prevention, putting that ahead of any possible prosecution."
Separately, the Justice Department will announce Thursday a significant change in how the FBI can conduct investigations in the field, according to a government official, who said the move would mean fewer restrictions on agents.
The department will amend the Attorney General Guidelines, which set the parameters by which agents can conduct investigations.
Mueller has hinted broadly at what the FBI's reorganization will entail, saying the agency has to beef up its analytical capabilities and staff.
520 agents to be transferred
One problem that became apparent after September 11, according to sources, is that the FBI did not have sufficient analytical capacity to deal with the volume of intelligence information being gathered.
The reorganization, sources said, will include the transfer of roughly 520 agents from criminal investigations toward terrorism prevention. The FBI wants to hire another 900 agents by September, with many of them slated for anti-terrorism work, sources said.
The overhaul also will likely include the installation of a new terrorism squad within FBI headquarters that will over see terrorism investigations. Previously, various field offices had overseen many of these investigations.
One official said the new terrorism squad would include something along the lines of a rapid response team that could be "dispatched anywhere in the world to support field efforts and to go into places where we have no one at that location."
There also will be more cooperation between the CIA and FBI, sources said.
The CIA, for example, will send more personnel to help the FBI analyze information relating to terrorism, one source revealed over the weekend. A senior manager and 25 analysts will be detailed to FBI headquarters in Washington to bolster intelligence gathering, and another group of CIA analysts will fan out to U.S. cities to review FBI terrorism cases in an effort to see if any intelligence clues have been overlooked, the source said.
In addition, FBI officials will be sent to the CIA's counterterrorism center to help manage the flow of information, one official said.
"I think that there's been a bad prioritization of assets in the FBI for a long period of time," U.S. Rep. Porter Goss, R-Florida, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, told CBS over the weekend. He credited the agency for bringing organized crime under control but said times have changed.
"I think now is a time for a huge, deep penetrating look into the FBI about how they can adjust their capabilities, under our Constitution, to meet the threat as it really exists today," Goss said.
Many lawmakers said the agency mishandled some information collected before the deadly September hijackings, findings that collectively could have pointed to a pending terrorist attack.
One memo generating considerable interest on Capitol Hill comes from Minnesota FBI agent Coleen Rowley. In the memo sent last week to Muller, Rowley said that FBI headquarters in Washington hindered efforts by the Minneapolis office to investigate suspected terrorist Zacarias Moussaoui, a French-born flight school student.
He was arrested on an immigration charge about three weeks before the September 11 attacks, but authorities said they believe he was the intended "20th hijacker." Moussaoui has been charged with six conspiracy counts in connection with the hijackings.
Mueller referred the Rowley memo to the Justice Department inspector general for an investigation, and lawmakers leading a joint congressional committee looking at intelligence failures said the memo will be part of their own probe.
One congressional source said the transfer of resources within the FBI will involve about 400 agents moving from the narcotics division to terrorism. The FBI, this source said, will not do another major investigation of narcotics, leaving the work instead to the Drug Enforcement Administration.
Another 60 agents will be redirected from the white-collar crime unit, and 60 more will be transferred from the violent crimes squad, a source said.
-- Justice Department Correspondent Kelli Arena and Producers Kevin Bohn, Terry Frieden and Dana Bash contributed to this report.
U.S. TOP STORIES:
Report: SUVs pose danger
Title IX minority pushes enforcement
Robert Blake goes to court
Judge orders man's mouth taped shut
Chicago Mayor Daley wins fifth term
|Back to the top|