Skip to comments.Lawmakers Say Misstatements Cloud F.B.I. Chief's Credibility
Posted on 05/30/2002 10:23:36 PM PDT by kattracks
ASHINGTON, May 30 With admissions this week that the F.B.I. might have been able to foil the Sept. 11 attacks and that it had bungled additional clues, Robert S. Mueller III has contradicted much of his past public defense of the bureau, raising new concern today on Capitol Hill about his leadership of the embattled agency.
Lawmakers said in interviews that the F.B.I. director was secure in his job for now and that they welcomed the plans he announced on Wednesday to change and enlarge the bureau's counterterrorism program.
But they said a review of his public remarks about the Sept. 11 investigation had raised uncomfortable questions about the F.B.I. director's credibility and about his ability to gather accurate information from his deputies.
Mr. Mueller's credibility was harshly attacked in a letter made public last weekend in which a Minneapolis agent said the F.B.I. director was engaged in a public relations campaign "to protect the F.B.I. at all costs" after Sept. 11.
In a news conference on Wednesday that amounted to a painful mea culpa for the bureau and for his performance in the nine months since he took over the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Mr. Mueller said, "I have made mistakes occasionally in my public comments based on information or a lack of information that I subsequently got."
He was referring specifically to a widely publicized Sept. 14 statement in which he offered assurances later proved to be false that the bureau had no warning that terrorists might be training in American flight schools. On Sept. 17, Mr. Mueller went further, saying he knew of "no warning signs" of any sort of attack.
Senator Charles E. Grassley, an Iowa Republican who is on the Judiciary Committee, said his staff investigators would explore the accusations made by the Minneapolis agent, Coleen Rowley, that Mr. Mueller and other senior F.B.I. officials had intentionally shaded the truth about the investigation last summer of Zacarias Moussaoui.
Mr. Moussaoui, who has been charged with conspiring in the Sept. 11 attacks, was arrested in Minnesota in August. Ms. Rowley said F.B.I. headquarters had obstructed the work of the local office in determining if Mr. Moussaoui was a terrorist.
"I believe that his heart is in the right spot," Senator Grassley said of Mr. Mueller, a decorated Vietnam War veteran and career federal prosecutor who until this week had received almost universal praise on Capitol Hill for his early performance at the F.B.I.
"But I'm going to give a great deal of deference to a whistle-blower," Mr. Grassley said of Ms. Rowley. "It gives me responsibility for digging deeper."
Mr. Grassley said that senior aides to Mr. Mueller may be to blame for the misstatements that had come back to haunt the F.B.I. director and that Mr. Mueller's deputies should be held accountable if they were responsible. "I'm willing to forgive him," the senator said. "But I'm not willing to forgive the agents who gave him the information."
Senator Dianne Feinstein, a California Democrat who is a member of the Judiciary and Intelligence committees, said she was perplexed by some of the inaccuracies that have been uncovered in Mr. Mueller's public statements, and that she was concerned that they might reflect an unwise decision to "take on the burden of defending what has been done in the past."
But she said that inadvertent mistakes by Mr. Mueller in his public comments might be understandable, especially in his first few, chaotic weeks on the job. "I have no concerns that he is up to the task," she said. "I think he has to be given a fair chance to prove himself."
A review of Mr. Mueller's public remarks since Sept. 11 shows that the director, who arrived at the F.B.I. only a week before the attacks, was quick to defend the bureau's performance and to suggest that there was little the F.B.I. could have done to prevent the attacks.
Some of his early remarks have proved to be untrue, and he has made what appear to inconsistent statements on other elements of the inquiry, notably the Moussaoui case.
"The tragedies quite clearly astonish and shock me and the country," he said at a news conference on Sept. 14. "The fact that there were a number of individuals that happened to have received training at flight schools here is news, quite obviously. If we had understood that to be the case, we would have perhaps one could have averted this."
Three days later, in the wake of news reports about Mr. Moussaoui's arrest, Mr. Mueller was asked again if the bureau had missed "any warning signs." He offered a more wide-ranging defense, saying, "There were no warning signs that I'm aware of that would indicate this type of operation in the country."
In her May 21 letter to the F.B.I. director, Ms. Rowley said she and other Minneapolis agents had been alarmed by Mr. Mueller's public comments and "immediately sought to reach your office through an assortment of higher-level F.B.I.-HQ contacts, in order to quickly make you aware of the background of the Moussaoui investigation and forewarn you so that your public statements could be accordingly modified."
But she said that when Mr. Mueller and his deputies repeated the comments in the weeks that followed, the Minneapolis agents "faced the sad realization that the remarks indicated someone, possibly with your approval, had decided to circle the wagons at F.B.I. HQ in an apparent effort to protect the F.B.I. from embarrassment."
Questioned this week about Ms. Rowley's accusations, Mr. Mueller conceded that his Sept. 14 statement had been in error and that he had been unaware that day of a memorandum sent to F.B.I. headquarters in July by a Phoenix agent who had called for a nationwide investigation of flight schools in light of evidence suggesting that Arab men with ties to terrorist groups might be seeking training.
"The fact of the matter is when I made that statement, I wasn't aware of the Arizona E.C.," Mr. Mueller said Wednesday, using the initials for electronic communication. "After I made that statement at the press conference, somebody brought it to my attention that, look there's this Phoenix E.C. out there."
The review of his public comments shows that Mr. Mueller has also given other seemingly contradictory statements about the Moussaoui case specifically, about why the bureau did not pursue a warrant before Sept. 11 that might have allowed Minneapolis agents to search his computer, where evidence linking him to the hijackers was found.
In October and again in December, when he announced Mr. Moussaoui's indictment, Mr. Mueller said publicly that there had been insufficient evidence before Sept. 11 to request the court order sought by the Minneapolis agents.
"When it was looked at, there was insufficient probable cause clear, insufficient probable cause," Mr. Mueller explained in October. In December, he said again that "attorneys back at F.B.I. determined that there was insufficient probable cause," which "appears to be an accurate decision."
But on Wednesday, Mr. Mueller backed away from his earlier statements, saying that he had not made a decision on whether the search warrant should have been sought. "I haven't parsed it," he said. "I know the Hill is looking at that."
He's a politician, not a leader. I'll be happy to dance at his going away party.
Yeah, the FBI's incredible string of screw-ups wouldn't have anything to do with it.
Scarborough, Rowan. "Intercepts Foretold of 'Big Attack.'" Washington Times, 22 Sep. 2001.
According to a senior administration official, "[t]he day before terrorists struck the United States, its intelligence agencies detected discussions between Osama bin Laden's lieutenants of an impending 'big attack,' ... The official said ... that the detection was not discovered until days after the Sept. 11 assault on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. The time lapse is typical of intelligence analyses, in which computers sift through loads of that day's collection to find valuable material."
Seems like there was little human involvement. The computers seem to be doing all of the work. Keywords and such perhaps? But wait, they lack computers...
Warrick, Joby, Joe Stephens, Mary Pat Flaherty, and James V. Grimaldi. "FBI Agents Ill-Equipped to Predict Terror Acts." Washington Post, 23 Sep. 2001, A1.
"The attacks on the Pentagon and the World Trade Center found the nation's chief domestic law enforcement agency ill-equipped and unprepared. An agency that must track terrorists who rely heavily on technology lacks computers that can quickly access the Internet. Boxes of evidence have piled up in previous terrorist plots, but the FBI has not had translators to decipher them. It lacks Arab agents who can penetrate terrorist cells and has too few veterans who see connections among foreign suspects and far-flung sites."
Oh, we dare not say he lied, we'll just say he made "misstatements".
I stand by all the misstatements. Dan Quayle
I was not lying. I said things that later on seemed to be untrue. Richard Nixon
I wonder how many more "misstatements" will come back to haunt
Does that tie in here?
Recently, he served as the Acting Deputy Attorney General for the Department of Justice from January through May 2001. On October 7, 1999, Robert Mueller was confirmed by the Senate as the United States Attorney for the Northern District of California in San Francisco. Prior to joining the Northern District of California in 1998, Mr. Mueller was Chief of the Homicide Section of the United States Attorney's Office for the District of Colombia where he had served since 1995 as Senior Litigation Counsel in the Homicide Section until assuming the position as Chief in 1997.
In 1990, Mr. Mueller was named Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Criminal Division of the U.S. Department of Justice by former President Bush and was responsible for developing and supervising the enforcement of federal criminal law. He supervised the Noriega and Gotti prosecutions, the Pan Am 103 investigation and helped develop the Justice Department's policies on corporate sentencing guidelines, computer crime investigations, and health care and money laundering prosecutions.
Prior to assuming the position of Assistant Attorney General, Mr. Mueller was an assistant to Attorney General Richard Thornburgh in the Department of Justice, and from 1986 to 1987 he served as United States Attorney for the District of Massachusetts.
Mr. Mueller has held various positions as a prosecutor and supervisor and has also had experience in the private practice of law.
I think there are a few more things not mentioned too.
MUELLER NOMINATION/FBI Director
Robert S. Mueller, III was born August 7, 1944 in New York City, New York. He received a B.A. from Princeton University in 1966, an M.A. from New York University in 1972, and a J.D. from University of Virginia Law School in 1973. His employment history includes the following: 1967-1970, Lieutenant, United States Marine Corps; 1975-1980, Captain, United States Marine Corps Reserves; 1973-1976, Litigation Associate, Pillsbury, Madison, & Sutro; 1976-1982, Assistant United States Attorney, Civil Division, then Assistant United States Attorney, Criminal Division, then Chief, Special Prosecutions Unit, then Interim Chief, Criminal Division, Northern District of California United States Attorney's Office; 1982-1988, Chief, Criminal Division, then First Assistant United States Attorney, then United States Attorney, then Deputy United States Attorney, Massachusetts District United States Attorney's Office; 1988-1989, Litigation Partner, Hill & Barlow; 1989 to 1993, Assistant to the Attorney General for Criminal Matters, then Assistant to the Attorney General for the Criminal Division, Justice Department; 1993-1995, Senior Partner, Hale and Dorr; 1995-1998, Special Litigation Counsel, Homicide Section, then Chief, Homicide Section, District of Columbia United States Attorney's Office; 1998-present, United States Attorney, Northern District of California; and January, 2001-present; on detail as Acting Deputy Attorney General, Justice Department.
Probably some more out there as to specific cases. I'll look into it some if you would like.
It should be noted, for the record, that Mueller was quite vocal in criticizing members of Congress who had dared to raise questions about the propriety of actions by the FBI and federal marshals in the siege at Ruby Ridge where the wife, son and family dog of Randy Weaver were ruthlessly gunned down.
The record also shows that Mueller has a certain disregard for the constitutional rights of persons accused of crimes. As U.S. attorney in San Francisco, Mueller actively urged prosecutors to push defendants who pleaded guilty in plea bargains to waive their so-called "Brady Rights" which require government lawyers to divulge any evidence that could indicate a defendant's innocence. In short, Mueller is very much one inclined toward the "police-state" frame of mind.
That Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) joined in the chorus of cheerleaders hailing Mueller's selection, is no surprise. Hatch-who never met a federal law enforcement official he didn't absolutely love-has been a tried-and-true friend of every federal law enforcement appointee, including Janet Reno, ever since he was implicated in the BCCI scandal-ostensibly "investigated" by Mueller himself-but escaped indictment.
And we're to believe that all of these "analysts" can't coordinate the information coming in to D.C.
I'm still not buying it.
Also present around the clock: a representative of the National Security Agency's Cryptologic Security Group to provide information from the government's worldwide electronic eavesdropping.
Isn't that special Mr. and Mrs. America. 24/7 coverage!
Each work station can receive data from three sets of phone and computer links, with the information divided into three categories: unclassified, secret and top-secret.
And the sheep went Baaaa and the cows went Moooo...
What's the use? Blatantly false statements abound and they will be believed because nobody knows and they don't want to know. Look up the Presidential Directives (PPD/PRD) and find out what is really going on.
I get frustrated and depressed blowing these things apart.
Agent: FBI Could Have Prevented 9-11
Wright listed several major failures of the FBI. They included lack of high-quality managers and modern computer technology, failure to modernize investigative objectives to deal with the new terrorist threat, too many investigative violations, incompetent managers not held accountable for their mistakes, an internal affairs unit that was "bias[ed] and unfair to whistle-blowers and others, criminal conflicts that have "contributed to the preventable deaths of American citizens," and FBI duplication of the investigative jurisdictions of other federal law enforcement agencies such as the DEA and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.
Cry real big crocodile tears for us...
It's all about what is lacking, never what is in abundance! Millions and billions of dollars in gadgetry and there just isn't enough. Evidence from just one article has already been shown what is available, and that in high-tech abundance.
I feel I know what is lacking and it isn't what is quoted above.
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