Book Excerpt: 'The Bureau'

"No matter who sits there, Jesus Christ himself could come back and have the misfortune to be made director, and they would forget everything that happened during Christianity," John Otto, the former acting FBI director, said.

After September 11, the FBI performed flawlessly, helping to restore confidence in the agency. The FBI has always been a symbol of America. Whether hunting down John Dillinger or handing a kidnap victim back to a parent, the FBI has succeeded far more often than it has failed. Once again, Americans could feel proud of their G-men. They are true heroes, willing to give their lives to preserve America's freedom. Yet in the end, "I don't know how you stop people who are willing to kill themselves," said an FBI agent assigned to the SIOC. "It's like assassins who want to kill the president. The Secret Service will tell you there's no way to stop them, if they want to die."

Barry Mawn still thinks about the woman's leg on the street after the World Trade Center attack. Late in the afternoon of December 31, as he prepared to lead FBI agents deployed to Times Square for New Year's Eve, Mawn said, "I'm praying nothing happens." On the first day of the New Year, he said, "Praying worked."

Excerpted from The Bureau by Ron Kessler, with permission, St. Martin's Press, May 2002.

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