William E. Odom's June 29 op-ed piece, "Why The FBI Can't Be Reformed," suggested that the agency is too tied to law enforcement to effectively prevent terrorism.
However, terrorists are criminals who may engage in identity fraud and theft as well as everything from cigarette smuggling to fraud in order to finance their activities. At the same time, criminals sell supplies and weapons to terrorists, launder money for terrorists and potentially smuggle terrorists across our borders. With criminal and national security threats so intertwined, our greatest opportunity to prevent terrorist attacks is to combine intelligence gathered through both criminal investigations and national security investigations.
Mr. Odom said the FBI is too burdened by the constraints of the criminal justice system to protect America from a terrorist attack. But the FBI is able to maintain a balance between protection and privacy because it has years of experience in stopping criminal activity while simultaneously protecting civil rights and civil liberties.
The FBI also has shown that it is capable of transforming itself in response to changing threats. During World War II it adapted to address threats from spies and saboteurs. Later, it took on organized crime. Since Sept. 11, 2001, the FBI has established dedicated intelligence groups in all its field offices as well as a directorate of intelligence to coordinate intelligence functions throughout the bureau. It now works with the CIA and the Defense and Homeland Security departments at the new National Counterterrorism Center and with local partners in 103 joint terrorism task forces around the country. Further, a National Security Service is being created within the FBI to strengthen intelligence capabilities and ensure integration into the intelligence community.
Is there more work to be done? Of course. We face an evolving adversary. But the FBI's efforts are enhancing our ability to predict and prevent terrorist attacks.
JOHN S. PISTOLE
Federal Bureau of Investigation