Book Excerpt: 'The Bureau'

Mueller said it was important for bureau officials to make their own decisions. "We're all going to make mistakes," he said. "I've made any number of mistakes. So long as they're made in good faith and you are doing the best you can, I just want to know about them, and we'll move on."

When Bob Dies told him it would take three years to bring the FBI's computer systems up to the level of most homes and offices, Mueller said he wanted it done sooner. "The work of the FBI is information," Mueller told me. "We don't do as good a job as we should in gathering the information in digital form, being able to analyze it using the software tools out there, and disseminating it digitally either within the FBI or to the CIA, Customs, DEA, INS, or state and local police. We have to drive the bureau into the twenty-first century. The bureau should be the most technologically proficient investigative agency in the world." With an extra $100 million on top of the $300 million already required, Dies said he could do the planned computer overhaul in fourteen months.

Even before September 11, Dies found that, when Congress learned how disastrous the problem was, it was completely willing to fund new computers. When Freeh was in charge, Congress did not believe the FBI was capable of knowing what it needed, much less how to obtain it. Dies insisted on allowing only brand-name companies to bid. Soon, thousands of new Dell machines began arriving at FBI offices throughout the world. Dies began putting in high-speed networks so field offices could communicate with each other more quickly, and he made dozens of other immediate changes. To avoid any conflicts of interest, Dies's son Jason, who had urged his father to apply for the job at the FBI in the first place, was no longer its IBM account representative.

But some clung to the old ways. Despite Mueller's position that the bureau must do a better job of admitting its mistakes and letting the facts speak for themselves, Kathleen L. McChesney, whom Mueller promoted to executive assistant director over law enforcement services, said that she would rather I not go on a tour of Quantico that had been set up for me. In a similar apparent attempt to distance herself from any possible criticism of the bureau, McChesney wrote in August 1993 on FBI stationery to my then publisher's legal counsel to ask for removal of her name in the acknowledgments to the paperback edition of my previous book on the FBI. She said that on at least two occasions, I contacted her but she said she was "not interested in providing information to him for his book." When the legal counsel reminded her that, with her permission, my interview with her had been tape- recorded, McChesney lapsed into silence, and her name remained in new printings of the book.

McChesney's more recent objection to my visit to Quantico resulted in its cancellation. However, John Collingwood intervened, and I spent most of a day at the training facility— shooting the Glock semiautomatic; responding to simulated shooting scenarios; sitting in on a class on use of deadly force; revisiting the Hostage Rescue Team facility and Hogan's Alley, where agents are trained in making arrests; and interviewing the acting assistant director over training. The episode was a reminder that, thirty years after Hoover's death, the dictum about not embarrassing the bureau was alive and well, even at the highest levels of the FBI.

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