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Archive for September 9th, 2013

Readers’ Comments on the Tenure of FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III Are Mixed

Robert Mueller III/ photo ticklethewire.com

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Robert S. Mueller III got quite an initiation when he started with the FBI. Just days after becoming director, he was faced with the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

His term was supposed to last 10 years, but his tenure was extended two extra years. That extension ended this month.

Not everyone agrees on tenure. Unquestionably, he was a stoic fella, who took the job very seriously. He was very dedicated.

After Sept. 11, 2001, he retooled the FBI, putting a heavy emphasis on terrorism. Some thought he went too far, particularly those who dealt with corruption and violent crime.

Some thought he was a great boss. And others, well, they didn’t care of his style.

I asked folks to send me comments on his tenure. Positive or negative, I asked that the comments be thoughtful and within good taste.

The following are some responses I got. If you still care to comment, or I missed your email,  I can add. Submit your comments to: Allan.Lengel@gmail.com.

Mike Mason/fbi photo

MIKE MASON, retired  Executive Assistant Director of the FBI.

I believe history will show that Robert Mueller was the absolute right person at the right time to assume the helm of the FBI. The FBI needed to change and needed to do so quickly. In the face of a historic attack upon our country, the standard way in which the FBI operated, specifically the significant autonomy granted to each of the FBI’s 56 field office’s Special Agents-in-Charge was not going to be an effective model to address the rising threat of terrorism facing the United States.

This fight called for a concerted effort across the country and around the world. Director Mueller met this challenge by significantly reorganizing and growing the FBI. He understood immediately that unless there was a single, nationwide level of tight, daily sharing of relevant information, we had no chance of containing an enemy that did not respect territorial boundaries. Managing terrorism cases out of Washington made each case national…even international in scope. The timely sharing of critical information, operational methodologies and even the creation of a common taxonomy required a massive collaborative effort and Mueller possessed the vision to achieve those objectives.

Did he make some FBI employees unhappy along the way, absolutely, but when has that not been a cost of change? Bob Mueller was one of the most focused, intense leaders for whom I have ever worked. The FBI is a better place because of his vision to bring about radical change to an organization that was too often wed to its historic roots.

********

KATE REGAN LUCIANI 

I first met Director Mueller in the New Haven division in early 2002.  At the time, I was a member of the Director’s Advisory Group (DAC), specifically Aegis, the support employee advisory committee.  I asked Director Mueller if he would be continuing with the DAC’s the Directors Sessions and Freeh had worked with.  He advised he would.

From spring of 2002 until Spring of 2013, when I stepped down after my second term as Co-Chair, I had the opportunity to meet with Director Mueller and his executive staff on numerous occasions.  We were always treated with respect and kindness.  We had many discussions regarding the concerns and issues of employees across the bureau.  The issues ranged from studies of positions for possible upgrades to the impact of any furloughs on employees.  Did we get everything we asked for, no.  Did we have many discussion regarding our issues and why they would or wouldn’t be considered.

Yes, it didn’t always go our way but we usually came away with  an understanding as to why it couldn’t be.  Will I say his tenure was perfect, no.  But I was truly honored to be a support employee who had the opportunity to represent my peers and I know our concerns were heard and no decision was made without thoughtful consideration.  

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 TERRY L. GRANGER 

I retired from the FBI 3 months ago after 22 years as a Special Agent.  I don’t know if Director Mueller was the worst FBI Director during my career (Director Sessions was questionable as well), but he was certainly the most disliked.  It was very obvious that he had no interest whatsoever in agents, their interests or their morale, and it was universally known by all that he did not care for FBI Agents from the beginning.

In fact, we knew during his time as a US Attorney that he did not care for the FBI, so we were all confused as to why he would take such a position. He made it very clear during his tenure that Analysts were his focus and their interests were his mission.  Analysts were brought in at a pay grade higher than agents could achieve unless they went into management, and this sent a very poor message about his regard of agents. Many agents often joked that it would not be long before all of our weapons were taken away and we were all reassigned as analysts.

The increase we are now seeing in violent street crime was expected by most of us after he directed the majority of criminal squads to be shut down and those agents transferred to counter terrorism squads.  It takes someone with a law enforcement background to understand what is needed in an organization like the FBI.  When you are asked to do more with less you need to show your people that you still have their interests in mind – most of us felt like we were expendable to Director Mueller and we were VERY disappointed when his tenure was increased by two more years.

Just for your information, in my opinion, the best Director during my career, by far, was Louis Freeh.  He had been an agent and understood what we dealt with on a daily basis and I think that is necessary for the job. I just wanted to share my opinion – thank you for asking for them!

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SONNIE WILKENS 

The US Attorney General and other heads of agencies publicly praise Mueller’s service at the Bureau but there’s another side the public doesn’t know.

Mueller’s personnel decision practices has deeply scared the morale of FBI employees. He brought Joe Demarest in from retirement to lead the NY office, effectively telling all of the onboard Senior Executives they couldn’t handle the job.

He appointed Sean Joyce as Deputy Director, who is now the performance evaluator of SACs – Agents who head individual FBI field offices – but Joyce himself has never been an SAC.

These are just two examples of personnel appointments that would cause anyone to shake their head. So was Mueller’s tenure at the Bureau beneficial to the agency…… Yes and no. We are a different agency because of the employees’ dedication to be a better agency.

But while Mueller led change, he also sucked the life of morale out of the Bureau, leaving numerous wounds behind because he did things his way instead of the right way. This is what the public doesn’t know.

*********

 

Read more »

U.S. Probes Potential for Domestic Terrorism in Light of Military Involvement in Syria

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

As the prospect of U.S. military involvement in Syria raises, the House Homeland Security Committee plans to meet Tuesday to discuss the potential domestic security implications, The Star-Ledger reports.

Authorities are worried that a military strike would inflame anti-American sentiments and prompt a terrorist attack.

“In light of the atrocities witnessed in Syria, today our nation faces difficult choices,” the committee chairman, Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Tex.), said in a statement. “We must determine how the civil war in Syria affects our national security interests, and the ramifications of our action or inaction in the Syrian conflict. Ultimately, without an international coalition or a clear military objective, sending ‘warning’ shots may risk entangling the U.S. in a war where a rogue regime is fighting a rebel force infiltrated by extremists who count the U.S. as their enemy. Such an action will not secure Assad’s deadly chemical weapons, which could end up in the hands of al Qaeda.”

President Obama has throated to use military force after the Syrian government was accused last month of killing more than 1,400 people win a chemical weapons attack.

Feds on High Alert As 12th Anniversary of Sept. 11 Terrorist Attacks Nears

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com 

With two days until the 12th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the federal government is on high alert but has found no credible or detailed information about an imminent threat, The Associated Press reports.

Concerns of an attack on Western targets will remain high this week as federal authorities recall the four Americans killed on last year’s anniversary in an attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya.

There were no specific warnings about that attack, the AP wrote.

Trouble is, it’s not easy identifying a terrorist plot being perpetrated by a lone person who may not be tied to a specific terror group, the AP reported.

FBI Admits Using Drones 10 Times for Surveillance on U.S. Soil

istock photo

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com 

The FBI has acknowledged using surveillance drones on U.S. soil at least 10 times, Al Jazeera America reports.

The admission comes after Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., made inquiries after FBI Director Robert Mueller told Congress in June that the bureau had used drones for “limited law enforcement purposes.”

According to the disclosure, the FBI used drones domestically eight times for criminal cases and twice for “national security cases,” Al Jazeera America wrote.

Paul had vowed to block the confirmation of a new FBI director until details of the drone use became available.

Megaupload Founder Kim Dotcom, Fighting Extradition to the U.S., to Start a New Political Party

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom is busy these days.

In addition to trying to avoid extradition to the U.S. on charges of massive copyright infringement, Dotcom is hatching a new political party in New Zealand, where he lives, the Washington Post reports.

Dotcom said he’s confident he’ll stay in New Zealand, saying copyright infringement is not a sufficient reason to force his extradition.

Dotcom said he’s still in the planning stages.

“I have a handful of people who have already committed to be part of it, but we’re still in the early stages,” he told the Post about getting others involved in his new party, which does not yet have a name.

Deadly Bath Salts Became Big Craze in Syracuse, Making it ‘Ground Zero’ for Synthetic Drug

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Bath salts, a synthetic stimulant blamed for the deaths and panic attacks of users nationwide, appeared to become a craze in Syracuse before spreading elsewhere, the Syracuse Post-Standard reports.

A former candidate of the Syracuse Common Council received a shipment of the drug, which he called “molly,” a name for the pure form of Ecstasy.

It was anything but pure.

But as he circulated different version at swingers’ parties in the Syracuse area in 2010, partygoers became agitated and dehydrated, the Post-Standard wrote, citing a DEA investigation.

“And Syracuse apparently was ground zero in the United States,” the newspaper wrote, attributing the DEA.

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