Transcript: FBI Director Robert Mueller’s testimony before the Senate Appropriations Committee – May 16, 2013
Partial transcript of FBI Director Robert Mueller’s testimony before the U.S. Senate Committee on Appropriations on May 16, 2013:
…As pointed out, we live in a time of diverse and persistent threats from terrorists, spies, and cyber criminals.
At the same time, we face a wide range of criminal threat – from white collar crime to public corruption to transnational criminal syndicates migrating gangs and child predators.
And just as our national security and criminal threats possibly evolved, so too must the FBI counter these threats even during a time of constrained budgets, as Senator you have pointed out.
Today, I would like to highlight several of the FBI’s highest priority – national security and criminal threats.
I’ll start with reference to Boston. As illustrated by that recent attack, a terrorist threat against the United States remains our top priority.
Over the past few weeks, we’ve seen an extraordinary effort by law enforcement, intelligence, and public safety agencies to find and hold accountable those responsible for the Boston bombings.
As you know, one of the bombers is dead. A second suspect has been charged and we continue in our ongoing efforts to identify any others that may be responsible.
Collaborative efforts of all our partners with the help and the cooperation of the public have led to the results so far. And let me assure you there will be no pause in that effort.
There are limits to what we can discuss publicly about the case today as the investigation is active and ongoing.
As this case illustrates, we face a continuing threat from homegrown violent extremists. These individuals present unique challenges because they do not share a typical profile. Their experiences and motives are often not distinct, which makes them very difficult to identify and to stop.
And yet at the same time, foreign terrorists still seek to strike us at home and abroad. Terrorists today operate in more places and against a wider array of targets than it did a decade ago. And we have seen an increase in cooperation among terrorist groups and evolution in their tactics and their communications.
Core Al Qaeda is weaker and more decentralized than it was 11 years ago but it remains committed to attacks against the West. Al Qaeda affiliates and surrogates, in particular Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula [AQAP], pose a continuing and a growing threat.
And in light of the recent attacks in North Africa, we must focus on emerging extremist groups capable of carrying out such additional attacks.
Next, let me turn for a second to discuss the cyber threat, which has evolved significantly over the past decade and cuts across all FBI programs. Cyber criminals have become increasingly adept at exploiting weaknesses in our computer networks and once inside they can exfiltrate both state secrets and trade secrets. And we also face persistent threats from hackers for profit, organized criminal cyber syndicates, and hackivist groups.
And yet, as I’ve said in the past, I believe that the cyber threat may well eclipse the terrorist threat in years to come.
In response, we are strengthening our cyber capabilities in the same way we enhance our intelligence and national security capabilities in the wake of the Sept. 11th attacks.
The cyber division is focused on computer intrusions and network attacks. FBI special agents work side-by-side with federal, state, and local counterparts on cyber task forces in each of our 56 field offices, working to detect and disrupt computer intrusions.
We have increased the size and the scope of the National Cyber Investigative Joint Task Force, which brings together 19 law enforcement, military and intelligence agencies to stop current attacks and prevent future attacks.
And together with DHS and NSA, we have clarified the lanes and roads for our collective response to significant cyber intrusions.
Now, cyber crime, as many other global crimes today, requires a global approach. In the cyber arena, through FBI attache offices, we are sharing information and coordinating investigations with our international counterparts. We have special agents embedded with police departments in Romania, Estonia, Ukraine, and Netherlands to identify emerging trends and key players.
At the same time, we fully recognize that the private sector is the essential partner to protect our critical infrastructure and to share information – threat information in particular.
Let me turn for a moment to the FBI’s criminal programs. The FBI’s responsibilities range from complex white collar fraud to transnational criminal enterprises, from violent crime to public corruption. And given limited resources, we must focus on those areas where we bring something unique to the table.
For example, violent crime and gang activity continue to exact a high toll on our communities. Through Safe Streets…Task Forces, we identify and target the most dangerous of these criminal enterprises.
To track and disrupt violence along the southwest border, we rely on our partnership with the DEA-led Special Operations Division, the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces and its fusion center and the El Paso intelligence center.
At the same time, we are required to and must remain vigilant in our effort to find and stop child predators. Our mission in that regard is three-fold. First, to decrease the vulnerability of children to exploitation. Second, to provide a rapid, effective response to crimes against children in programs such as the Child Abduction Rapid Deployment Teams. And third, to enhance the capabilities of state and local law enforcement task force operations such as the Innocent Images and the Innocence Lost National Initiatives.
Now, in closing, I would like to turn to sequestration. The impact of sequestration on the FBI’s ability to protect the nation from terrorism and crime will be significant.
In fiscal year 2013, the FBI’s budget was cut by more than $550 million. And in fiscal year 2014, proposed cuts will total more than $700 million. Not to mention in 2013 the rescission of approximately $150 million additional.
The ongoing hiring freeze will result in 220 vacancies at the FBI by the end of this fiscal year with 1,200 additional vacancies in 2014.
We also anticipate furloughs for our employees during the next fiscal year.
I’ve long said that people are the bureau’s greatest asset. Additional operational cuts and furloughs will impact the FBI’s ability to prevent crime and terrorism, which in turn will impact the safety and security of our nation.
And with regard to non-personnel resources, the FBI will have to forgo or delay long-needed IT upgrades. In addition, it will be unable to obtain the technical surveillance tools needed to keep pace with our adversaries.
We understand the need for budget reductions but we would like to work with the subcommittee to mitigate the most significant impacts of those cuts.
Chairwoman [Barbara] Mikulski, Ranking Member [Richard] Shelby, I personally would like to thank you again for your support to the bureau over the years that I have been Director and for your support of our office. Our transformation over the past decade would not have been possible without not only your cooperation but your support and for that we and the bureau thank you.
And again, I look forward to any questions you may have.
- WhatTheFolly.com: Transcript: FBI Director Robert Mueller’s testimony before the Senate Appropriations Committee – May 16, 2013
- WhatTheFolly.com: Transcript: Q&A with Sen. Barbara Mikulski on the FBI’s fiscal year 2014 budget – May 16, 2013
- WhatTheFolly.com: Transcript: Q&A with Sen. Richard Shelby & FBI Director Robert Mueller on May 16, 2013
- Appropriations.Senate.gov: Hearing on the FY 2014 budget for the Federal Bureau of Investigation on May 16, 2013
- Appropriations.Senate.gov: Written testimony of Robert Mueller on the FBI’s fiscal year 2014 budget – May 16, 2013 (PDF)