Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Kessler: The Secret To Fighting Terrorism

Veteran journalist Ronald Kessler, the author of The Secrets of the FBI and other books on the FBI, the CIA and the Secret Service, offers his view on the secret to fighting terrorism in the Washington Times.

Now that fighting terrorism is a hot campaign issue, it’s worth knowing just why we have not had a successful foreign terrorist attack since Sept. 11, 2001.
Two days after the attack, FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III briefed President George W. Bush on the bureau’s efforts to investigate the crime.
“They talked about how the terrorists got plane tickets, got on planes, moved from one airport to another, and then attacked our citizens,” Andy Card, Mr. Bush’s chief of staff, told me for my book “The Secrets of theFBI.” “And the president, while he was very interested in that report, said, ‘Mr. Director, that’s building a case for prosecution. I want to know what you have to say about the terrorist threats that haven’t materialized yet and how we can prevent them.’ “
Mr. Mueller carried the message back to headquarters: Instead of simply responding to an attack, the FBI must uncover plots and roll them up before it’s too late.
Of course, the FBI had always sought to prevent terrorist attacks before they occurred. But under former FBI Director Louis Freeh’s leadership, the FBI tended to treat each incident as a separate case, instead of recognizing the larger threat and mounting an effort against the entire terrorist organization, as the bureau had done with the Ku Klux Klan and the Mafia.
On top of that, before Sept. 11, because of relentless media criticism and a lack of clear authority under Justice Department guidelines, the FBI had become so gun-shy and politically correct that even though terrorists were known to hatch their plots in mosques, the FBI was averse to following suspects there.
Under guidelines in place before Sept. 11, FBI agents could not even look at online chat rooms to develop leads on potential suspects who might be recruiting terrorists or distributing information on making explosives. The FBI had to determine first that there was a sound investigative basis before it could sign on to chat rooms that any 12-year-old could enter.
“We were told before 9/11 that we were not allowed to conduct investigative activity on the Internet, even though it’s public,” Arthur M. “Art” Cummings II, who headed counterterrorism investigations as theFBI’s executive assistant director, says. “Same thing with a mosque. It’s a gathering open to the public, but we were absolutely precluded from going into a mosque as an FBI agent. And precluded from having a source in a mosque report on anything in the mosque, or look at anything in the mosque, unless we had a specific target within the mosque.”
That changed after Mr. Mueller came back from his meeting with Mr. Bush. Mr. Cummings told agents, “We’ve got this new mission. It’s a prevention mission.”
You can read the rest of the piece via the below link:

You can also read my Counterterrorism magazine interview with Ronald Kessler via the below link:

No comments:

Post a Comment