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FBI Director to Announce Restructuring Plan - 2002-05-28

The Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation announces his plan Wednesday to restructure the agency to make it better able to protect the United States from terrorism.

FBI Director Robert Mueller is expected to announce a series of steps aimed at improving the bureau's ability to gather and analyze intelligence information on terrorists planning domestic attacks.

Congressional sources say Mr. Mueller will center the FBI's anti-terrorism efforts in Washington and will seek greater cooperation with the CIA, which is responsible for intelligence gathering overseas.

The FBI director hinted at the changes to come during a recent speech here in Washington. "Our worldwide network must be more powerful," he said. "Our financial commitment must be stronger and our techniques, training and technology must be more sophisticated. And our sense of urgency and intensity, perhaps, must be greater than it ever has been in the history of the FBI."

Confidence in the FBI has been shaken in recent weeks amid revelations that the bureau ignored leads from some of its own agents who wanted to intensify investigations of potential terrorists prior to the September 11 attacks.

Of particular concern to Congress is a 13-page letter written by an FBI Special Agent in Minnesota that accuses FBI higher ups in Washington of being slow to respond to requests for a full investigation of Zacarias Moussaoui. Federal investigators believe he was supposed to be the 20th hijacker on September 11 and his conspiracy trial is scheduled to begin later this year.

Mr. Moussaoui was arrested in August after raising the suspicions of instructors at a flight school in Minnesota. But when FBI agents there sought permission to search his laptop and other belongings, FBI headquarters refused, saying there was no evidence to link him to terrorist organizations.

The agent who raised the concerns, Coleen Rowley, is expected to be a key witness when the House and Senate Intelligence Committees hold hearings on the issue next month.

Florida Republican Porter Goss chairs the House Intelligence Committee. He told Fox News Sunday that the continuing threat of terrorism requires that the FBI shift some of its resources away from crime fighting to domestic intelligence gathering on potential terrorists.

"The way to success in the FBI is to go out and apprehend criminals and have a successful prosecution and put them in jail and get them off the street," he said. "And that is wonderful. We need that. That is law and order and any good civilized society has to have that. They don't do spying on Americans because Americans don't want Americans to be spied on."

Intelligence experts and lawmakers agree that Americans may have to overcome some of their wariness about domestic intelligence gathering in order to better protect themselves from terrorists.