FBI Director Robert Mueller has proposed creation of an intelligence service within the FBI with own director and budget that would operate separately from other parts of the agency. The Washington Post says the move would mark a substantial shift in the operations of the tradition-bound FBI. It is aimed at heading off proposals that would strip the bureau of its responsibilities for intelligence and espionage investigations and turn them over to a new agency like Britain’s domestic intelligence service. The Bush administration is studying a reorganization of the CIA and the rest of the sprawling intelligence bureaucracy. FBI officials said it was a coincidence that the plan was unveiled on the day the resignation of CIA Director George J. Tenet was announced.
The FBI would create a “directorate of intelligence.” Mueller said “a strong intelligence service within the FBI . . . leverages our formidable collection capabilities” and will improve sharing of information with police departments and other agencies. Mueller did not provide Congress with cost estimates or many details. Rep. Frank R. Wolf (R-Va.), who chairs the appropriations committee that funds the FBI, proposed the “service-within-a-service” several months ago and has strongly encouraged the FBI to endorse it. Wolf told the Post that a restructuring would “keep the country from facing another 9/11” by improving the FBI’s ability to collect, analyze, and share counterterror intelligence. “I’m very hopeful that this kind of organization will help us prevent another terrorist attack,” he said.