On Thursday, March 22 I attended a meeting with FBI Director Robert Mueller and selected members of the private sector. Mueller is a former federal prosecutor who began his directorship just days before September 11, 2001 and recently had his 10-year term extended by President Obama. During the meeting, Mueller discussed the transformation the Bureau has undergone since 9/11. Mueller listed the Bureau’s current priorities as:
- Cyber Crime
- Public Corruption
- Civil rights
- Organized Crime
- White Collar Crime
- Violent Crime
Mueller spent a significant amount of time discussing the FBI’s role in fighting cyber crime. The Bureau is interested not only in helping secure government and critical infrastructure networks, but also in arresting those who would tamper with them. He used the recent arrests of members of the hacking group Anonymous as an example.
The FBI works with other U.S. government, foreign and private agencies both on the target hardening and investigation aspects of these cases. He listed other partners as the National Security Agency, Central Intelligence Agency and Interpol.
In response to a question, Mueller said that at this time the Bureau’s budget has not been cut, but it has not increased. He stated that having a firm list of priorities will help identify where cuts will be made if funding decreases.
Mueller revealed that he had considered changing the hiring policy of the Bureau to attract younger agents. The average age of a new Special Agent recruit is currently thirty years old. After the review, Mueller decided not to alter the criteria since he is recruiting agents with experience both in life and in the business world. This experience adds value to the agent and the Bureau when they begin working on cases.
Concluding his remarks, Mueller stressed how important partnerships are for the FBI. He talked about increasing the number of Joint Terrorism Task Forces around the country as an example of partnering with state and local law enforcement. He also emphasized the important role of the private sector in fighting crime and preventing terrorist attacks. He specifically mentioned the Infragard program as an example of a successful partnership. In addition, Mueller highlighted recent cases where tips from businesses alerted the FBI to defendants buying materials to manufacture improvised explosive devices.