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Thursday, 6 June, 2002, 20:20 GMT 21:20 UK
FBI director promises change
Coleen Rowley
Ms Rowley accused her bosses of ignoring vital signs
The director of the FBI has promised a total overhaul of the agency following apparent intelligence failures in the run-up to the 11 September attacks.

Robert Mueller was speaking to the Senate Judiciary Committee ahead of potentially explosive evidence from an FBI whistleblower who has accused the bureau of blocking investigations into suspected terrorists.


Our adversaries, whether they are terrorists, foreign intelligence agents, or criminals, are not static or complacent and we must not be either

FBI Director Robert Mueller
Coleen Rowley has begun to tell the committee why she thinks her bosses hindered enquiries into the man now suspected of being the would-be 20th hijacker.

Later on Thursday President Bush is expected to use a national TV address to announce a major restructuring of security and intelligence agencies in response to 11 September.

Computers blamed

In a statement submitted to the Senate Judiciary Committee, Mr Mueller said: "I will not pretend it will be easy but I also do not doubt that a different FBI is emerging post 9/11."

"Our adversaries, whether they are terrorists, foreign intelligence agents, or criminals, are not static or complacent and we must not be either."

Robert Mueller
Mueller: Pushing for change from within
He said cumbersome technology was partly responsible for the failure to pull together strands of intelligence and he promised better co-operation with other agencies.

"We saw things we should have done better and should have done differently," Mr Mueller told senators.

One senator described it as "jawdropping" that the FBI did not have the technology available to schoolchildren - including the ability to search keywords and share information horizontally.

Mr Mueller said the agency was "laying the groundwork" for a new computer system but it would be two or three years before it was completed.

Resources stretched

Senators have focused questions on the so-called Phoenix memo, in which FBI headquarters failed to act on an alert from Arizona that several Arabs were suspiciously training at a US aviation school last July.

One senator - who also referred to Ms Rowley's complaints against the FBI - said he believed if intelligence had been followed, a "blueprint" for the attacks could have been uncovered.

Mr Mueller has asked for more money for counter-terrorism - particularly for analysing information and increased technological capability - as the agency changes its profile from crime-solving to prevention of terrorism.

He rejected suggestions that new guidelines brought in since 11 September could jeopardise civil liberties.

Explosive letter

Ms Rowley shocked the FBI last month by sending a 13-page letter to Mr Mueller, accusing the bureau's headquarters of setting up a "roadblock" to the investigation into the alleged "20th hijacker" Zacarias Moussaoui.

Mr Moussaoui, who was held in Minnesota on immigration charges last summer, has now been indicted as a co-conspirator in the attacks.

Committee members have said they expect Ms Rowley's testimony to give them important insights into the workings of the intelligence agency in the run-up to the attacks on New York and Washington.

Bush speech

Mr Bush's speech later on Thursday is expected to announce the establishment of an intelligence "clearing house" to work alongside the FBI and CIA.


The question is whether shifting the deck chairs on the Titanic is the way to go

Senator Edward Kennedy
The cabinet-level domestic security department would take over border security, intelligence and other issues now housed in eight separate federal agencies.

White House officials have described it as the biggest restructuring since World War II.

The measure is part of a package put together by Director of Homeland Security Tom Ridge, who was appointed following the attacks.

The speech has been seen by some as an attempt to divert attention from the potentially explosive Senate Committee hearings.

But the proposal has already been met with criticism.

"The question is whether shifting the deck chairs on the Titanic is the way to go," said Senator Edward Kennedy.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
FBI Director Robert Mueller
"The changes are critical to support our new way of doing business"

Key stories

European probe

Background

IN DEPTH
See also:

03 Jun 02 | Americas
03 Jun 02 | Americas
30 May 02 | Americas
17 May 02 | Americas
16 May 02 | Americas
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