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FBI Director Mueller Testifies Before Judiciary Committee

Aired June 6, 2002 - 09:31   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: I want to bring Kate Snow into our conversation now, who's standing by live on Capitol Hill. We were just talking about some of Senator Grassley's caustic remarks about the FBI, and even Arlen Specter yesterday suggested coming out of these private hearings that not only did the FBI have information to connect the dots. He said they had a -- quote -- veritable blueprint.

I think he used the word road map, too, that if they would have been able to connect some of these dots together also suggested last night by Senator Bob Graham, who's a Democrat and the head of that intelligence committee that met yesterday. So there's criticism coming from both sides.

I was talking to Senator Patrick Leahy this morning about that. He's the Democrat who chairs the panel that you're looking at on the right side of the screen. That's the Senate Judiciary Committee, which is just about to get under way with open, public hearing today.

Senator Leahy, I asked him, is this about politics? I mean, look, you Democrats are often charged with seizing on the moment and trying to do anything to gain some political points, and he said, you know, I've been sort of the middle ground here. He said the people that have been most critical have been people like Senator Chuck Grassley, a Republican, Senator Arlen Specter, a Republican. Senator Dick Shelby has also been a little bit critical. He's a Republican.

So anyway, that -- to that question, I think that's the answer that's coming from both sides.

Tell you a little bit about what we expect this morning, Paula. I want to show you we've been handed some documents here. This is a letter -- you remember the letter that we've been talking about written by Coleen Rowley. It's a letter that's just been handed out to us. It's a 13-page letter. It's never been published until right now. I think you see director Robert Mueller there being seated. He's going to be testifying on the first panel this morning, FBI director Robert Mueller, and also next to him is Glenn Fine. He's the inspector general of the Justice Department.

Let's listen in.

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

SEN. PATRICK LEAHY (D-VT), JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: ...we are going to have two panels -- that's fine, it's good to have you here, too -- the director of the FBI and then Inspector General Glenn Fine will testify. We'll have questions there. Then once this panel is finished, we will go off and we'll take a break and then we'll do the second panel, which will be Ms. Rowley.

I note that I have been reminded that there will be a vote around 11:00 o'clock. We will take a break at that time for about 10 minutes just to go and vote and then we'll come back.

Last week FBI Director Mueller -- Attorney General Ashcroft made some extraordinary -- actually indicates to the attorney general an unexpected announcement of changes in the organization of the FBI and the guidelines for its administration. Now, the Congress and the administration share a common goal. The goal, of course, is ensuring the safety and security of our country.

I look forward to hearing from the department and the FBI why these changes are necessary -- the changes they propose -- to prevent future terrorist attacks, and they may be right. But this Oversight Committee has both a duty and a responsibility to review these changes and their justification.

Ten days earlier Inspector General Glenn Fine issued a critical report in the handling of visas of two 9/11 hijackers by the Immigration and Naturalization Service. He made 24 recommendations to address deficiencies in INS' practices and procedures, and these suggestions, too, may be justified. This Oversight Committee has the job of examining whether the identified deficiencies are being fixed.

At the same time, the American people have been barraged with new reports about the government's performance before the 9/11 attacks, including charges and countercharges of mistakes by the FBI and the CIA; the handling of the Phoenix electronic communication, the critical letter from FBI Agent Coleen Rowley in the Minneapolis FBI office and a report that the attorney general turned down a proposal to increase the FBI counterterrorism budget by $58 million shortly before the 9/11 attacks.

Now, Director Mueller has confronted this mounting evidence and he's candidly admitted what we all now realize -- that today, we can't say for sure whether the 9/11 attacks might have been stopped if all the dots had been connected and all the leads been followed, and I commend the director for the candor of his recent statements. I don't want a return of the worst aspects of J. Edgar Hoover's FBI, where no one at the FBI could admit or learn from mistakes, and anyone who raised a question did so at his or her peril.

Now, the Judiciary Committee has always been the standing committee of the Senate responsible for oversight of the Justice Department. We are accountable to the Senate and the American people for ensuring that the FBI, the INS and other department components are effectively organized, with adequate resources and with proper leadership. This committee considered the nominations of the FBI director, the INS commissioner, the inspector general and the attorney general, and we have a continuing responsibility to follow what they've done. We started oversight hearings on June 20, and now more than ever in the age of terrorist attacks on our shores, close oversight of the FBI and other law enforcement and intelligence agencies is not an option. It's an imperative. I wrote to the attorney general and the director on October 25, 2001 in response to the U.S. Patriot Act to ask what internal reviews they were conducting in connection with the events of September 11.

I told both the attorney general and the director to preserve any documents and information they had from before September 11, especially those documents and information that had been overlooked prior to September 11, and that they share with us important matters they uncover as they conducted the internal review of the events leading up to the tragedy of 9/11.

I was disappointed to learn only this week that the Justice Department's inspector general conducted an inquiry into the FBI's Phoenix electronic communication as early as last October. This was the type of thing that I had asked the attorney general to let us know about. I was concerned to read about it from the press and not to hear from the attorney general. So we're going to want to hear from Inspector General Fine about the circumstances and the results of his earlier inquiry.

Even more disappointing was the Justice Department's failure to advise the committee that its review of FBI guidelines after 9/11 uncovered issues that called for revision. Instead, we're presented with a fait accompli reflecting no congressional input whatsoever. From those comments over the weekend, it seems that Chairman Sensenbrenner and our counterparts in the House Judiciary Committee were likewise surprised by the unilateral actions taken by the attorney general in revising longstanding guidelines that have worked for decades.

I might say that attorney generals come and go; FBI directors come and go; the members of this Senate committee come and go. The Constitution of the United States stays the same. It has been the basic bulwark of our freedoms, and no matter what the short-term gains might be, no one in the Congress or in the administration can ignore the Constitution of the United States. To do so, we do it at our peril and we weaken the United States; we do not strengthen the United States.

After the AG's news conference last week, the department did post 100 pages of new investigative regulations on its web site. They may tell us these changes are relatively straightforward, reflect good common sense -- that there was a need to change the guidelines that were followed in the Ford administration, the Carter administration, the Reagan administration, the first Bush administration, the Clinton administration -- and therefore the stroke of the pen should be changed.

Well, I understand the need to reexamine policies, but we shouldn't throw out decades of wisdom just because of a bad week or two in the press. I agree with Chairman Sensenbrenner, these important safeguards of American privacy and freedom should not be significantly altered without careful consideration and a full explanation of the reasons for any changes.

Now, we've shown in Congress bipartisan work in the U.S. Patriot Act, the Aviation and Transportation Security Act, the Border Security and Visa Reform Act, the Bioterrorism Preparedness Act. We showed that we can work with the administration. So I cannot understand why the Department of Justice continues to insist on acting unilaterally, and as Chairman Sensenbrenner pointed out, without consulting with the Congress. It just disrupts an overall effort.

The regulations on surveillance of Americans not suspected of any crime are there for a reason. The intended change of the culture of the FBI is something all of us understand here in the Congress. The regulations on the handling of confidential informants are also carefully crafted. Just last month, an FBI agent in Boston was convicted of federal crimes based on his improper handling of mob informants.

Two men spent years in jail for a crime they didn't commit. The FBI knew they didn't commit it, and the FBI kept quiet while these two men spent year after year after year in jail. That's wrong. Two weeks later we're planning on simultaneously loosening both headquarters' control and the rules for handling informants. The controls are there for a reason. They shouldn't be changed simply to fit a press conference.

I do appreciate the director's consultation with the leaders of the House and Senate Judiciary Committees and other members of Congress before he announced phase two of his reorganization last week. I look forward to hearing more steps on that. I believe the steps he's taken to refocus and redesign the operational structure of the FBI to prevent terrorist attacks are the right ones.

And I want to commend the hardworking men and women of the bureau and other agencies of the department who are working tirelessly and conscientiously in the best interest of the United States to protect us. But no flow chart or press conferences can fully reassure the American people that our government institutions are up to the present challenges, particularly in light of daily revelations of new lapses.

The director has outlined 10 clear priorities for the FBI and I agree with the director that the bureau cannot continue to devote scare manpower and technical surveillance resources to cases that could easily be handled by state or local police. We don't have enough manpower to do the things that really protect us. Both state and local police are very good, let them handle the local things. An example is a report this week of an extensive, year-long Department of Justice and FBI investigation of the operators of a prostitution ring in New Orleans. I realize it comes as an enormous revelation to the American public that there might have been prostitutes in New Orleans. I mean, who knew?

(LAUGHTER)

LEAHY: But according to press reports, FBI agents were listening to 90 calls a day and wiretaps that continued for months and amounted to more than 5,000 phone calls. The Department of Justice and the U.S. attorney claimed it was a federal case. Well, there are a whole lot of local laws in this. In fact, the local prosecutor said they wanted to worry about things of real importance and said they would pass up the list of all those wiretaps.

Now, Director Mueller's new priorities make clear the FBI has more urgent things to do. I'd encourage the Department of Justice to find more urgent things to do. Dealing effectively with counterterrorism is an important and immense task. You're not going to do it in only one branch of government. We've got to work together. The Congress has to be involved.

The series of hearings is focused on problems and constructive solutions to those problems. Many of them are reflected in the FBI reformat (ph), which we passed unanimously, Republicans and Democrats. Not an easy chore in this committee, but we did it.

These problems include the inadequacy of the FBI's information management and computer systems, security failures in the Hanssen case, the resistance of bureau officials to admit mistakes and double standards in discipline.

Senior FBI managers testified at these hearings. They laid out in detail what we need to do to get the FBI back on track. And I commend the director in working with those and being very candid in his own responses.

So the Department of Justice, the FBI, this committee, others have to stay the course. We want to make the FBI the most effective tool we have in this country to protect us against terrorists because, unfortunately, we know the terrorists still want to strike at us.

Senator Hatch?

SEN. ORRIN HATCH (R), UTAH: Well, thank you, Mr. Chairman. I want to commend you for holding this hearing on the oversight of the Department of Justice.

The hearing raises many critical issues. And our duties on this committee of examining and finding solutions to the problems where needed can complement the investigation of the bipartisan, bicameral Intelligence Committee on which several members of this committee, including myself, happen to sit.

We have today before us Robert Mueller. He started the job as director of the FBI one week prior to September 11. At the time Bob Mueller stepped into the position of director, the FBI was the subject of intense criticism and media coverage due to several high-profile embarrassments, such as the handling of the McVeigh documents, the belated discovery of the Hanssen spy case and the troubled Wen Ho Lee investigation.

Now, despite these problems, Director Mueller willingly and enthusiastically accepted the difficult challenge of reforming the FBI. It had to be overwhelming, as it is to lead any major organization, including the Justice Department. On September 11 his challenges increased by several orders of magnitude. But there was no question then and there is no question now that Bob Mueller is the right person to implement essential changes at the FBI. His extraordinary qualifications, integrity and resilience make him the perfect fit for the job, especially in these trying times.

Indeed, Director Mueller has demonstrated he has the ability to reform a troubled organization. In August 1998, the Clinton administration asked him to serve as interim U.S. attorney for the northern district of California at a time when the office was experiencing great institutional problems. In short order, Director Mueller turned the office around and rebuilt it into one of this nation's best.

When it comes to management of a government office, Director Mueller's no-nonsense style has served him well. He has shown he has the ability to inspire others to do the best work for all of us American people.

While the FBI is composed of dedicated, hard-working agents who are some of the best in the world, we cannot let our respect for these accomplished men and women blind us to the fact that reforming the FBI, its structure and its culture is a critical mission; one that is imperative to the safety of all Americans in the face of a continuous terrorist threat to our country. This is what he has begun at the FBI, which we'll hear about today in detail.

There is no question that there are significant issues concerning the specific steps the FBI took in its pre-9/11 investigation and analysis, particularly in Minneapolis and Phoenix. Special Agent Coleen Rowley has raised important issues relating to the FBI's handling of the Moussaoui investigation in Minneapolis.

This committee will not and, indeed, cannot shrink from its duty to examine these difficult and troublesome issues. However, I went to emphasize that this inquiry should be forward-looking with an eye toward reforming the FBI, protecting the American public and making sure that such an act never occurs again on our soil.

The forward-looking examination will serve the American people far more than a typical Washington gotcha investigation of missed clues and political fodder. We cannot afford such an inquiry, because we all recognize on this committee and on the Intelligence Committee this is a serious matter.

Our focus must remain on reforming the FBI and giving Director Mueller the support and resources he needs to change the direction of this massive law enforcement agency. The American public deserves nothing less than the full and complete cooperation of this committee to ensure that the FBI is reorganized and given the tools it needs to face the challenges of the future of our country.

Also, very seldom are mentioned the tremendous accomplishments of the FBI, the number of terrorist incidents all over the world that they have helped to interdict and stop over the intervening years both before and after 9/11 -- some of which can't be mentioned.

I want to take time here to specifically commend Director Mueller for his handling of Special Agent Rowley's letter. While it would have been easy to play the typical Washington game of pass-the-buck and blame somebody else, Director Mueller has embraced Special Agent Rowley's letter and recognized that her observations underscore the need to implement his reorganization plan, one which aims at the heart of the issue -- the FBI culture and possible structural road blocks to effective law enforcement.

To this end, Director Mueller has the confidence and the courage to welcome criticisms, to examine their merit and to make sure that such criticisms are not simply sweeped under the rug, but are carefully and candidly weighed.

I think it is important to note that the new director's recently announced reorganization proposal addresses some of the criticisms and problems identified through the pre-9/11 inquiry.

First and foremost, Director Mueller's reorganization proposal fundamentally alters the FBI's mission. Director Mueller has proposed a new forward-thinking approach, one that is built on proactive detection and is aimed at preventing another deadly terrorist attack. To this end, Director Mueller has proposed a reorganization plan which will improve the FBI's analytic capacity, enhance its ability to gather, analyze and disseminate intelligence concerning terrorists and racketeers, further its ability to share information internally and with other law enforcement and intelligence agencies, and decentralize those functions that need to be reallocated to the field while centralizing critical intelligence-gathering and analysis functions to support its overall mission of preventing crime before it occurs.

Director Mueller's recently announced comprehensive reorganization package comes on the heels of his initial reorganization of FBI headquarters. As we all know, in late 2001, Director Mueller reorganized the FBI's headquarters to reflect the changing priorities and direction of law enforcement by assigning four new executive assistant directors to oversee counterintelligence and counterterrorism matters, criminal investigations, law enforcement services, and the administration of the FBI. He also created two new divisions to address computer-facilitated crimes and security, and four new offices to address information technology, intelligence, records management, and law enforcement coordination with state and local law enforcement partners.

He couldn't have done that before the enactment of the Patriot Act, which this committee played a significant role in doing.

Finally, Director Mueller accelerated a major overhaul of the FBI's technology system, which will better enable it to gather, analyze and share information and intelligence.

Like Director Mueller, Attorney General Ashcroft reorganized the need for increased FBI oversight and reform as soon as he took office. And prior to September 11, he enlisted the assistance of a number of independent reviewers. In March 2001, in response to the Hanssen case, Attorney General Ashcroft established an independent review board headed by William Webster to examine the FBI's security procedures. In July 2001, the attorney general hired management consultants to study the FBI and he expanded the jurisdiction of the Justice Department's inspector general to include oversight over the FBI.

And we're very pleased to have Mr. Fine here with us today, as well.

In the wake of September 11, Attorney General Ashcroft worked closely with this committee and Congress to ensure passage of the Patriot Act, which has provided the law enforcement community with additional tools and resources they did not have and which are necessary to attack terrorist organizations.

And like Director Mueller, Attorney Ashcroft took quick and affirmative steps to protect the American public and fight the war against terrorism. The attorney general established 93 anti-terrorism task forces across the country, which are working to integrate the communications and activities of local, state and federal law enforcement offices -- something he could not have done before the Patriot Act.

He created the Foreign Terrorist Tracking Task Force in order to assist the FBI, INS, Customs Service and other federal agencies in coordinating their efforts to bar from the United States aliens who are suspected of being involved in terrorist activities.

Last week, Attorney General Ashcroft announced amended investigative guidelines that will assist the FBI in conducting investigations capable of preventing terrorist attacks. These guideline changes support and, in fact, are critical to the FBI's reorganization plan.

Now, though I am pleased to learn that there is bipartisan support for these guideline revisions, I understand that concerns have been voiced about their scope. It seem obvious to me, however, that if we are serious about ensuring that the FBI can and does operate proactively investigating future rather than merely past crimes, the bureau must be given the ability to do things our Constitution permits, like search the Internet, use commercial data-mining services and visit public places.

There is little question that the number-one concern of all Americans is to make sure that we protect our country against terrorist attacks, not provide more rights to suspected terrorists than our Constitution requires. Our safety and security depend on striking the right balance.

Now, Director Mueller and Attorney General Ashcroft should be commended for the degree to which they have focused their cooperative attention on reforming their respective institutions. Both have instituted independent investigations and both have been responsive to the inquiries of this committee and the Joint Intelligence Committees. As a member of the Joint Intelligence Committee, I can assure you of that. Not only has the director testified before this committee, he has also briefed members of this committee and made other senior FBI employees available to address various issues of concern, including those raised by the Phoenix memorandum and the Rowley letter. This is the first time in the past decade that the director of the FBI and the attorney general actually have a cooperative working relationship, as they should -- the first time.

We will also hear today from the Honorable Glenn Fine, the inspector general of the Justice Department, who is in the process of completing a number of investigations relating to subjects of this hearing. His conclusions will naturally be a valuable resource in this restructuring process.

And I look forward to hearing from you, Mr. Fine, as well and appreciate the work that you're trying to do.

There is no question we need to consider how to improve all components of the Department of Justice to best protect our American people. In our oversight role, we should not blindly accept proposed reforms, but instead ask tough questions to ensure that they will address the problems that exist.

However, we cannot and we should not try to micromanage the Department of Justice. We will succeed in being a constructive and integral part of the reform process if, and only if, we work collaboratively with those in the Department of Justice, the FBI and the INS -- the Immigration and Naturalization Service.

We all need to recognize that this is a process that will take time. At the same time, we will act as expeditiously as possible because the stakes are so high.

So I appreciate you, Mr. Chairman. I appreciate this hearing. I appreciate our witnesses who have agreed to testify today. And I look forward to working with you to help resolve any and all problems that we might have.

LEAHY: Director Mueller, the floor is yours. I know that you've eagerly awaited this opportunity to be here.

(LAUGHTER)

But, no, we do appreciate -- everybody on both sides of the aisle appreciate it. I think you heard from both Senator Hatch and I that the two of us appreciate your willingness to be available, as you have, to all of us with our questions.

Please go ahead, sir.

ROBERT MUELLER, DIRECTOR, FBI: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman and members of the committee.

It has been nine months now since the attacks of September 11.

LEAHY: Pull the microphone nearer you, would you please, sir?

MUELLER: Surely. Is that better? LEAHY: Yes.

MUELLER: Can everybody hear now?

Let me just say thank you again, Mr. Chairman. And let me start by saying it has been nine months now since the attacks of 9/11. And when I came to the FBI just one week short of September 11, I must say that I did not anticipate what lay around the corner. And in that span of a few short minutes, our country was changed forever and terrorism had taken the lives of thousands. And our country looked to the FBI to find out who did this and to not let it happen again.

A massive investigation ensued, mobilizing, as only the FBI can, over 6,000 agents who poured themselves into the effort, both here and abroad, following up on some 500,000 leads. All of these shreds of information we painstakingly uncovered led to figuring out who was responsible and how it was done.

And I, as you also, Mr. Chairman, and others have expressed, am extraordinarily proud of the men and women of the FBI and of the CIA and of all of the agencies who made the sacrifices and did the work that ultimately led us to knowing who was responsible for these acts.

And as we go through this process, their efforts should never be lost or go unrecognized in our haste to look back and see how we can do things better.

Just as we knew on September 11 that we had to find out who was responsible for this, we also knew our charge had changed forever. An honest and comprehensive examination of the pre-September 11 FBI reflects an agency that must evolve and that must change if our mission, our priorities, our structure, our work force and our technologies are to revolve around the one central, paramount premise of preventing the next attack. The need for change was apparent even before September 11. It has become more urgent since then.

Now, when we look back, we saw things that we should have done better and things that we should have done differently. But we also saw things that were done well and things that we should do more of. But almost from day one we began to change.

At the end of last year, I described to Congress a new headquarters structure, one designed to support, not hinder, the critically important work of our employees, particularly the special agents in the field. And since then, I have taken any number of steps to put in place what can be described as the tools of prevention and to put in place permanent solutions to the painful lessons of Robert Hanssen and the McVeigh documents. This committee knows from prior hearings about much of this.

Now, let me just spend a moment talking about some of these new functions and organizations that we have put in place in the process of developing an FBI that is more focused on prevention.

As an example, we have a financial review group, which is dedicated to the financial transactions aspect of terrorism. The Foreign Terrorist Tracking Task Force is exploiting new data-mining capabilities. The number of joint terrorism task forces across the country has expanded. A national Joint Terrorism Task Force now gives interagency coordination and information-sharing new dimensions.

We have document exploitation teams to maximize the intelligence value of the troves of documents being recovered overseas. Interview teams are exploiting those individuals who have been detained by our military.

Former Police Chief Louis Quijas is now in place as the assistant director in charge of law enforcement coordination to better bring our partners to the table.

A college of analytical studies has been established at our training academy. New agent training has been revised to reflect the post-9/11 realities.

And last, as important, is that several FBI-CIA information- sharing and coordination initiatives have been implemented to increase our coordination and sharing of information.

These include both changes at the top -- Director Tenet and I meet almost daily -- to changes throughout the organization, and ranging from daily exchanges of briefing materials, a joint daily terrorism threat matrix, more CIA personnel at the FBI and more of our personnel at CIA, and joint reviews in the field and the like.

And finally, as I think, Mr. Chairman, you pointed out, we have a new security division, which is up and running, as well as new records management division. And both of those initiatives address those issues that arose in the course of the review of the Hanssen and McVeigh issues.

Even in the midst of the post-9/11 fervor, much more has been accomplished, but more needs to be done.

In the last few weeks, I have presented for congressional consideration the next and arguably the most important phase of reorganizing the FBI. This reorganization proposal comes after consultation within the bureau, with the attorney general, with administration officials, with state and local law enforcement and with members of Congress.

Now, I have provided a lengthy statement for the record which details the shifts in resources and the additional organizational changes, I believe, are imperative to fully support the complete transition to prevention. These changes which include new resources, new analytical capability and new technology are critically important to supporting our new way of doing business.

Coupled with these changes are new and more focused priorities, again, outlined in that statement which I've provided to the committee.

And while we believe these changes to be a dramatic departure from the past, in the end our culture must change as well. And I believe Senator Grassley has it right when he says that there has to be a wholesale change in the culture, away from reacting to crime to preventing new terrorist attacks. And with that, I think we call agree.

In the end, two things have come to symbolize that which we are changing: First, what did not happen to the Phoenix memo points squarely at the need for greater analytical capability and greater ability to share our information. And second, the critical but welcomed letter from Agent Rowley reinforces the need for a different approach, especially at headquarters. What we are doing squarely addresses both of those concerns. And what we are proposing will help provide a more agile, flexible and focused FBI that we need to meet that primary objective of preventing the next attack.

I might also add that what may be the most critical component in giving us a better capacity or capability to prevent the next attack is substantially increasing our capacity to both analyze and share information. The new office of intelligence is critically important to this, and that is why I wanted this office to be headed by a senior career CIA analyst, who will instantly bring to us a wealth of experience and expertise and who will guide not only the FBI's analysts but also the 25 CIA analysts that Director Tenet has generously given to us to assist us in our efforts.

I want to just spend a moment talking about the urgency of these moves. The world remains a very dangerous place. The information gleaned from Guantanamo and other captured Al Qaeda officials reflects that disrupting is not dismantling and that the inherent vulnerabilities of a free society are well understood throughout the terrorist community. Those who want to hurt us remain highly motivated, well funded and spread out around the world. They and the other recognized international terrorist groups are as determined as ever. And while we and our CIA counterparts continue to identify, continue to arrest, continue to deport or continue our otherwise counteroperatives to otherwise address operatives and sympathizers around the world, there are still loose and dangerous alliances remaining around the globe.

We must take the long view and be prepared to mobilize whatever level of resources circumstances dictate. The restructuring I have proposed is critical to sustaining those efforts.

Now, let me briefly address the changes in the attorney general's guidelines. I know you mentioned that, Mr. Chairman, and I know they are a subject of interest to many of you.

The changes are designed to increase the ability of our field agents to gather the intelligence we need to prevent terrorist attacks. To that end, they reduce some of the bureaucratic hurdles requiring headquarters' approval for certain steps. And in the provision that has gotten a great deal of attention, they permit FBI agents to go to public places or anyone else, except FBI agents -- including state and local police and non-Justice Department law enforcement agents -- are always free to go. Remember, though, that they may do so solely for the purpose of detecting and preventing terrorist activities, and there are strict limits on record-keeping in such instances. No information obtained from such visits may be retained unless it relates to potential criminal or terrorist activity.

And I must say and emphasize that, as an institution, we are and must be and continue to be deeply committed to the protection of individuals' constitutional and statutory rights. Nothing in the amended guidelines changes that.

I'd be happy to answer any questions. I know that some of you have questions relating to the handling of various cases and investigations.

I have previously discussed those with members of the committee in executive session and would be pleased to do so again. Because of the applicable legal rules and because of the sensitivity of ongoing investigations relating to our efforts to prevent terrorist attacks, I am obviously limited in what I can say about such matters in open session. I appreciate the committee's agreement to our continuing to discuss such matters, those matters, in executive session.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for the opportunity to give a statement.

LEAHY: Thank you, Mr. Mueller, and thank you for being available to members of the committee as you have.

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