Minneapolis FBI agent Coleen Rowley that she will retire at year’s end, even as she warned that counter-terrorism agents now are being swamped with intelligence data and have “too many dots” to connect, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports. Rowley questioned the need for an intelligence “czar,” a key recommendation of the 9/11 commission. The bureau’s dramatic shift to focus on terrorism has resulted in “a huge pendulum swing from the mistakes of overcomplacency before September 11. Now we’re perhaps embarking on what I call the uncharted waters of massive intelligence collection. That changes the problem, and it also changes the mistakes and the errors that are being made now,” she told a panel for the nonpartisan Eisenhower Foundation.
Rowley, an agent for nearly 24 years, becomes fully eligible for her pension when she turns 50 on Dec. 20. “Civilizations fall not because of external attack, but because of internal rot,” Rowley said. “We have seen a lot of internal rot.” Rowley gained fame in 2002 with her accusations that FBI headquarters bungled a chance to thwart the Sept. 11 attacks when it blocked Minneapolis agents from obtaining a warrant to search the possessions of jailed terrorism suspect Zacarias Moussaoui. Rowley praised many of the 9/11 commission’s recommendations, but said its call for a national intelligence chief “is not really a solution. Tell me the last time a czar stopped anything.” She said most acts of terrorism have been thwarted by “a lowly customs inspector or a New Jersey trooper” or flight attendants and passengers who overpowered attempted shoe-bomber Richard Reid.