Transcript: Q&A with Sen. Barbara Mikulski on the FBI’s fiscal year 2014 budget – May 16, 2013

Sen. Barbara Milkulski (D-Md.). SOURCE: Appropriations.Senate.gov

Partial transcript of Q&A with Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) and FBI Director Robert Mueller at the Senate Appropriations Committee hearing on May 16, 2013:

Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.):
…What will be the impact of the hiring freeze and what do you anticipate that you will not be able to do as you prioritize? In other words, what falls off…?

FBI Director Robert Mueller:
There are a number of things that fall off on the list. One of them being the National Gang Intelligence Center, which has been in operation for a number of years that centralized gang intelligence, which is critically important around the country. We will have to de-centralize that, disband that initiative and try to replicate many of its attributes with personnel assigned from headquarters.

We’ll be losing several million dollars in the Critical Incident Response Group, which is HRT – which is the Hostage Rescue Team, which has been very active recently not only in Boston but in Alabama with the individual – the boy, who was kept underground…It was the hostage rescue team that was the entity along with state, local authorities that were able to resolve that particular situation. We’ll have to cut back on Critical Incident Response Group training and capabilities.

We’d have to cut down on personnel transfers. Facilities reduction – we have 400 resident agencies around the country and we’re going to have to look at addressing those and seeing if we can combine some of those. But those resident agencies give us the capabilities of responding any place in the country to a substantial federal crime.

Those are just some of the things that will be impacted by these budget cuts.

Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.):
Well, what it seems to me is with the challenges you’re facing and management endeavors to deal with the consequences are that the threats and the needs don’t go away. And we’re going to make do but this is not like deferring maintenance, you know, of a dorm somewhere…My concern is that this will have a chilling effect on morale…and it has an effect on our effectiveness at the state and local level. Do you concur with that.

FBI Director Robert Mueller:
Absolutely. Particularly if we have to go to furloughs. There’s nothing more – how do I want to put it? – devastating is perhaps too strong a word but demoralizing is the word I’m looking at. It’s demoralizing when you are faced with furloughs, unable to pay your bills, working hard but the government has to furlough you because there’s insufficient money to keep you on in the position that you’re on. We’d take cuts elsewhere but the furlough’s the last resort.

Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.):
Would you anticipate that agents will be furloughed?

FBI Director Robert Mueller:
Yes, I do…

Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.):
I got to tell you, this is shocking. This is a self-inflicted wound…This is not an external threat from a foreign country or an organized crime is doing to us. It’s what we’re doing to ourselves. And I think we have to find a solution to canceling sequester, not better managing sequester, for both this year and the next – and because I think that’s the ultimate corrosive effect.

Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.):
Picking up on what Sen. Shelby was asking…For the Boston bombing, the first thing was to catch the bad guys. So there had to be a tremendous mobilization of law enforcement, which meant the FBI was involved…In order to be effective, you have to have the right agents in the right place doing the right thing with the right relationships. Am I correct?

FBI Director Robert Mueller:
Yes.

Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.):
And isn’t relationships developed over time and if these agents are one, furloughed, if there’s a hiring freeze, it would have an impact, wouldn’t it? Am I correct?

FBI Director Robert Mueller:
Absolutely. Absolutely.

Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.):
What would have happened in Boston if we’d been under a furlough then? I mean, there were many things that worked very well in Boston and there are areas that are going to require revisiting and reform and I think you would agree with that.

FBI Director Robert Mueller:
I could tell you furlough or no furlough, everybody would have been in immediately, even if you didn’t get paid, in something like that.

But the point that you make in terms of getting the right people in the right place, it’s not just accurate for the bureau but for the relationships with state and local law enforcement.

If you look at the – if you’re familiar with the incident down in Alabama, it’s having our persons – hostage negotiators – working with the sheriff and district attorney down there and the hostage rescue team is bringing those particular elements that are important to that particular case. Now, that’s not one we could have prepared for.

The shooting in Aurora, Colorado, when I went out afterwards and talked to the chief and our special agent in charge, the one thing they told me is, “We did so well on this particular case because we trained for this before.”

In Boston, if you talked to the individuals in Boston – you talk to the chief of police of the Boston Police Department, the Cambridge Police Department, or the Massachusetts State Police, they will tell you that is a collegiality that working together on a Joint Terrorism Task Force on areas that kicked it to place when that happened on that Monday. And through those two, the first responders from Boston, Boston Police, and the others who were responsible for security, they ran towards danger; did not run away, and together were remarkable in that the capabilities and success they had in saving persons’ lives.

And it all – it is developing those relationships before something like this happens is absolutely instrumental.

When you have sequestration, when you have the budget cuts like we do, what gets cut off is training, and training develop relationships that enables you to respond effectively and efficiently to something like Boston.

Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.):
…I recall when we were facing the sniper situation here in the North Capitol region and the work of the FBI and the ATF then with local law enforcement and the fantastic job that was done and we didn’t have to nationalize it though it involved two states and multiple counties within those states. And the way everybody worked together and I had the chance along with then Sen. Sarbanes to observe it very up close and personal, and it was an amazing effort of coordination…

When we think about where the FBI was on Sept. 10, 2001 and where we are today, there’s been a remarkable transformation. And it’s occurred under your leadership organizationally, a phenomenal feat, and under your stewardship. And you are to be commended. My question is that since 9/11, could you estimate how many terrorist attacks the FBI has thwarted?

FBI Director Robert Mueller:
I would say over the last three or four years, which we’ve looked at, it’s probably close to 100 terrorist attacks – individuals who were contemplating, were involved with or otherwise. And that’s just over the last four years. People talk about several hundred. It really depends on your definition of a terrorist attack. But I’m comfortable saying that the last 3 to 4 years at least we’ve disrupted anywhere from 90 to 100 attacks.

Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.):
And each one of those attacks would have caused casualties, would have had a massive impact on the economy…

FBI Director Robert Mueller:
I’d say for a majority of them, that is accurate. There are others that I couldn’t go so far as to say that. Because some of those are persons who provide material support to a terrorist attack although it’s not going to be a person who punches the button. Those figures are fairly accurate.

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One Comment on “Transcript: Q&A with Sen. Barbara Mikulski on the FBI’s fiscal year 2014 budget – May 16, 2013

  1. Pingback: Transcript: Q&A with Sen. Richard Shelby & FBI Director Robert Mueller on May 16, 2013 | What The Folly?!

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