But everyone in the bureau and Justice Department recognized that the only way to make a real difference in fighting terrorism was to penetrate organizations with informants and electronic intercepts, in investigations that could take years. No one talked about returning to the unfocused and often illegal intelligence gathering of the Hoover days. Nor did anyone consider using torture, another creation of a few in the press.
In reorganizing the bureau, Mueller appointed four executive assistant directors to oversee eleven divisions. It was more or less the structure every director except Webster and Freeh had used, one that Mueller discussed with Webster at their lunch at the Metropolitan Club. It took pressure off the deputy director and provided a line of FBI officials who could make policy and meet with leaders of foreign law enforcement and intelligence organizations.
Mueller removed key officials who did not measure up to his standards. He removed Sheila Horan as acting director of the Counterintelligence Division because, after he found she was generally not on top of the subject, he felt she did not appropriately brief him on a Chinese counterintelligence case, failing to warn him of problems with it. Perhaps more than anything else, that defined the difference between Mueller and Freeh: Freeh banished people for telling him the facts, whereas Mueller banished those who did not give him the facts. Mueller was determined not to have another Wen Ho Lee fiasco on his watch. But because Freeh had driven away so many talented FBI officials, Mueller had a depleted lineup to choose from when replacing bureau executives.
After six months on the job, Mueller had chosen his own people for nearly all the top slots in the bureau, including a black woman to be assistant director over training. Bright and articulate, forty-four-year- old Cassandra M. Chandler, a lawyer who was once a television news anchor in Baton Rouge, most recently headed the FBI's criminal and domestic terrorism analysis.
As executive assistant director over counterterrorism and counterintelligence, Mueller elevated Dale Watson, who had been in charge of counterterrorism alone. In that job, Watson had been trying to make the bureau more proactive. Having previously been detailed to the CIA as deputy operations director, Watson, who looks like a college professor, was superbly qualified to lead the bureau's efforts in the national security area. "Before, we were going from one crime to another," he told me. "We are now working on how to prevent attacks five years from now." When Pickard, who had been acting director when Freeh left, retired in November 2001, Mueller decided to do without a deputy so he could force the changes he wanted. He wanted to learn the bureau so he could feel comfortable that the right decisions were being made. He thought the job of deputy director probably entailed too broad a range of responsibilities in any case.
Rather than micromanaging, Mueller saw himself as supervising. "I like to be included on the important decisions," he said. "I'm responsible for everything that happens. That being the case, I want a certain comfort level that this is being done the way I would like it to be done even though I have not been an FBI agent. I have a tremendous amount to learn. I need advice from those who have been there and done things that I have not."