Transcript of Attorney General John Ashcroft
Remarks on FBI Reorganization
May 29, 2002
ATTY GEN. ASHCROFT: Good afternoon.
On September the 4th, 2001, Bob Mueller took the oath of office as the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. At that time, Bob certainly knew he faced enormous challenges in leading the bureau's 27,000 employees. One week later, on September 11th, those challenges were unbelievably magnified. Yet, as a former Marine, Bob well understood the concepts of adapting and overcoming.
For over eight months now, Bob has simultaneously adapted the bureau to the new mission of preventing future terrorist activities while overcoming bureaucratic hurdles to restructure dramatically anti-terrorism operations. We appreciate your leadership, your integrity, Bob, and your passion for reform.
When Bob was unanimously confirmed by the United States Senate as the director of the FBI, he was lauded by Republicans and Democrats alike. Senator Dianne Feinstein, who came to know Bob through his service as U.S. attorney in California, praised him as a hands-on manager who was known as a man who can come in and whip an operation into shape; no nonsense, no excuses, just results.
Senator Barbara Boxer, who recommended Bob for his job as the U.S. Attorney for Northern California, lauded his selection. Senator Leahy expedited Bob's nomination as FBI director stating, "Is the president's choice the best person? I believe it is. I have faith in him." Senator Leahy also acknowledged, "We know he has a very difficult job ahead of him."
That difficult job on September 4th became the Herculean task after September the 11th. Bob has met the challenge head-on, and he's met it by activating a 24-hour-a-day Command Center at the FBI's Strategic Information Operations Center to track terrorists around the world. He's met it by briefing the president daily on the latest terrorist threat assessment. He's met it by leading the largest criminal investigation in U.S, history, which deployed 6,000 special agents, tracked over a quarter of a million investigative leads, and received close to a half a million tips and phone calls.
He's met it by working to enact new laws to strengthen dramatically our information-gathering capacity. He's met it by sharing intelligence and investigative information more broadly than ever before within the law enforcement community and intelligence community.
Bob has met the challenge by reorganizing the FBI's senior headquarters management and planning at the upper levels of the FBI headquarters, and establishing new leadership positions to oversee counterintelligence and counterterrorism.
Bob has realigned the work force, with 900 new agents scheduled to come online by September of this year, including a massive campaign to recruit specialists in areas like computers, language, engineering and science. And most importantly, Bob has met the challenge by shifting the FBI structure, culture and mission to one of preventing terrorism. Last November, I announced a wartime reorganization and mobilization of the nation's justice and law-enforcement resources to meet the overriding counterterrorism mission of the Department of Justice. Director Mueller continues that transformation in our mission today in announcing the second phase of the FBI's reorganization.
This reorganization goes forward with the knowledge that Congress and those within and outside the FBI will provide us with constructive advice and criticism. Where there are responsible changes to be made, we will make them. Where there are mistakes to acknowledge, we will not shy away from doing so. Those who step forward to voice their legitimate concerns will be welcomed, and often, their ideas reviewed and embraced.
We have worked and will continue to work with the September 11th joint inquiry of the House and Senate Intelligence Committees to examine the deficiencies in our intelligence-gathering and analysis. We will strive to determine better how the enemies of freedom seek to exploit our system in order to murder innocent civilians. And we will never shy away from making the tough decisions to keep our citizens safe and our liberties secure.
As Bob highlighted in his nomination hearings last summer, the FBI is, and I quote Bob, "is on the frontlines every day in the battle against terrorism and violent crime." Bob Mueller has never retreated from the frontlines, whether it was in Vietnam, where he led in battle as an officer in the United States Marine Corps and received the Bronze Star, two Navy Commendation Medals, the Purple Heart, and the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry, or commanding the Criminal Division of the Justice Department and two major U.S. Attorneys Offices at the Justice Department, or in reforming the FBI as the director. Bob has served his country on the frontlines where the fight is always the most fierce.
There is a difficult job. There is a difficult job ahead.
Bob Mueller is the right man for that job. He has a mandate for change from this administration. This battle-tested leader will execute his mission. This reformer will overhaul the FBI.
It is now my pleasure to introduce FBI Director Bob Mueller, to thank him for his service. Thank you, Bob.
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