Fixing the FBI
This man is pushing some of the biggest changes in the Bureau's History. Think he's a popular guy?
Such bad blood raises questions about how much Mueller can fulfill his goal of integrating the FBI's intelligence mission with that of the broader intelligence community. Many in that community say the FBI can never change its cops-and-robbers mind-set. "Turning cops into covert agents," says the former senior CIA official, "is like asking choir girls to become call girls."
Some veteran intelligence officials question the quality of analysis the FBI is providing, saying it's often substandard--something Mueller emphatically denies. "I've seen a lot of intelligence products over the last 3 1/2 years," Mueller responds. "I think our products are the equal of those that were put out by the rest of the community at this point in time and, in some cases, better."
Today, Mueller is working with CIA Director Porter Goss on a memorandum of understanding to better delineate and coordinate the FBI and CIA's intelligence-gathering activities in the United States and abroad. But FBI and intelligence sources say Mueller's efforts have been slowed in part by the intelligence community's instinctive distrust of Maureen Baginski. Mueller recruited her to head the Directorate of Intelligence from the National Security Agency, which collects signals intelligence through spy satellites, not human intelligence from sources. Intelligence officials say they're concerned that Baginski is still struggling to hire, train, and retain analysts, draft key policy agreements, and navigate the FBI's insular culture.
In such a contentious environment, it's no surprise there would be some flashpoints. One recently involved a veteran FBI agent assigned to a presidential commission investigating the flawed intelligence on weapons of mass destruction that led to the war in Iraq. The agent removed from the commission's secure space a classified CIA document critical of the FBI's intelligence-gathering efforts and handed it to FBI officials, who copied and distributed the document. Furious, commissioners asked Mueller to remove the agent from the commission and fire her from the bureau. Mueller refused. The agent has since been reassigned, pending an internal investigation.
In the clubby world of law enforcement, Mueller enjoys great credibility among police chiefs across the country. But state and local police, and homeland security and intelligence officials say that although the FBI has come a long way in its efforts to share information, it still has a long way to go. "There is still a huge gap between what they know and what they report," says a senior intelligence official who works closely with the FBI. "For every two pages they report, there's another 15 or 20 pages they don't want to provide." Some officials say the FBI is still hugely compartmentalized, a series of information stovepipes. When a lead comes in that crosses internal bureau boundaries, these officials complain, the FBI's bureaucratic instinct is still to create a task force and set it up in the bowels of the Hoover Building, promise to work with other agencies--and then shut them out entirely. This is especially true, these officials say, in terrorism cases. "Interviews happen, the FBI investigates, and there is the black hole," says the senior intelligence official. "With 14,000-plus investigations going, the FBI should be able to tell us in a more comprehensive fashion about where our threats exist--[terrorist] cell structures in the U.S. and North America, emerging threats, and where we need to be looking."