|Page 3 of 4 < >|
Old-School Academy in Post-9/11 World
Harrington said the bureau is creating a more formal program in which agents who have been with the FBI for three years will specialize in an area, such as counterterrorism and intelligence, and receive more training. But Harrington said that a curriculum is not yet in place.
The FBI has also been trying to upgrade training for analysts, who don't carry badges or guns or investigate cases but have the critical job of connecting bits of intelligence. Since last October, future analysts have attended a new five-to-nine-week basic training course at Quantico, a breakthrough for a group of FBI employees who have long felt like second-class citizens in the bureau's hierarchy.
In 2003, as the centerpiece of his effort to update the bureau, Mueller reorganized intelligence operations and began hiring analysts in unprecedented numbers. But there was no comprehensive intelligence training or system to support their work. Last year, Justice Department Inspector General Glenn A. Fine found that analysts were being assigned to escort duty, collecting trash and answering telephones -- and they were leaving in droves.
The training course at Quantico has graduated more than 650 analysts, joining the 2,000 analysts and 12,000 agents already in the field. But they train separately from future agents and have only one four-hour class together. The lack of classified computer access at the academy means they have to be sent to dorms at an adjunct academy 10 miles away so they can work on secure computers.
An obsolete computer system is also a problem for new-agents-in-training, or "NATS," as they are called at Quantico.
"That is one of the big frustrations here," said Supervisory Special Agent Karen E. Gardner, chief of investigative training at Quantico. "If the American people expect us to connect the dots, we've got to train to do it. We don't have the computer networks here to do that."
FBI officials said the bureau plans to build a multimillion-dollar state-of-the-art intelligence center at Quantico equipped with secure classrooms and classified computers. But it won't be ready for eight years.
For now, agents attend classes in the academy's maze of aging buildings. They spend many days role-playing in "Hogan's Alley," a replica of a 1950s small town created by Hollywood set designers that Keith Slotter acknowledge "served us well for the bank-robbery scenario" but not so well for counterterrorism.
While some critics say that the FBI is not giving its recruits enough intelligence training to mold them into domestic spies, others caution that the agency's intelligence-gathering in the 1950s and '60s led to many serious abuses, including the wiretapping of civil rights leaders and the targeting of communists and any other groups that then-Director J. Edgar Hoover considered a threat.
Civil libertarians argue that the FBI's focus on law enforcement and the fact that it has to make its cases stand up in court are critical limitations on its power.
Fourteen hours of the new training is dedicated to teaching recruits about the Intelligence Information Report (IIR), a new form to write up raw intelligence with other agents, analysts and intelligence agencies. A reporter was not allowed to see some of the other new counterterrorism courses because the FBI said they were classified.
Gardner said the classes covered "Secret Squirrel stuff": the guidelines and regulations for doing basic paperwork on a terrorism case; terrorism financial networks; obtaining wiretaps through the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court; and using "national security letters," which give agents access to library, Internet, telephone and financial records without a subpoena.