mueller.JPGTerrorism, espionage and cyber-attacks are the top priorities of the FBI today, FBI Director Robert Mueller III said during a talk at the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco today.

During the talk Mueller also touched on the recent wave of “Occupy” protests, cyber-attacks on BART over the summer, and the benefits of the Patriot Act.

Illustrating through examples, Mueller said that the three FBI priorities are intertwined, and that in recent years technology has played an ever-increasing role in terrorism and espionage.

When a computer security breach is noticed, Mueller said that it can be difficult to tell immediately whether the attack came from a foreign government, a foreign or domestic criminal organization, or just “a high school student in his room.”

Mueller said cyber-attackers slip in quietly, often without notice. “Much like having termites in your house, by the time you discover them, the damage is done,” he said.

He pointed out to the San Francisco audience a close-to-home example of how disruptive hackers can be: when in a wave of protests reacting to the BART officer-involved shooting of a homeless man in July, hackers from the protest group “Anonymous” stole personal information from a BART website and posted it to the Internet.

He said that the FBI must make sure that it has the tools to effectively combat cyber attacks, and said that legislation allowing the FBI to intercept electronic communication was out-of-date, having not been updated since 1994.

Because of this, he said, the FBI is not able to intercept communications from social networking conduits as quickly as may be necessary to gather information to prevent attacks.

“Change is a constant in today’s world and we must prepare for it,” he said.

Mueller experienced firsthand how rapidly the world can change, as he was appointed as the FBI chief only one week before the Sept. 11 attacks.

“I could barely find my office on Sept. 11,” Mueller joked. He said that when the attacks happened, the FBI instinctively kicked into the most extensive investigation in the bureau’s history.

“It ran exceptionally smoothly,” he said.

But in light of the Sept. 11 attacks, changes needed to be made to the way the FBI interacted with a changing world, and needed to refocus its priorities.

Rather than focusing exclusively on criminal investigations, the lines between national security and domestic law enforcement were suddenly blurred.

He said one great benefit of the controversial Patriot Act was that it broke down the walls between the FBI and the CIA for dealing with terrorist attacks and cyber-attacks.

“We have to work very closely on any of these threats,” Mueller said.

But since then the landscape has shifted even more, and in the last four or five years, he said, even the recruitment methods of foreign terrorists has altered considerably.

Following Sept. 11, he said, the main threat of recruitment to Al Qaeda or similar terrorist organizations was through people traveling to countries like Pakistan or Yemen to join cells and receive training in executing terrorist attacks.

More recently, however, he said that prospective terrorists can educate themselves in terrorist ideology and tactics exclusively over the Internet, and may act individually rather than as part of a terrorist network.

Another challenge faced by the FBI in recent years has been a wave of white collar crime centered in financial fraud, which he said has been a main priority of the FBI since the Enron and WorldCom scandals in 2001 and 2002.

Issues of accounting fraud have grown even more pronounced since the collapse of mortgage-backed securities in 2008, and Mueller said that there are close to 3000 mortgage fraud investigations in the country now.

“We will continue to get through these series of cases,” he said, adding that an another four to five years he “guarantees” another wave of similar crimes, and that he hopes to keep the FBI aware of potential similar scandals before they get going.

Mueller was more hesitant to talk about a recent backlash to these kinds of crimes, the wave of Occupy protests that have swept hundreds of cities across the nation in recent months, and loomed particularly large in the Bay Area, when Occupy Oakland grabbed international headlines.

Many attendees of the talk were eager to ask the FBI director about the Occupy protests, but at the mention of the word, Mueller promised he would duck the question.

He did say, however, that the protests walk a fine line between protecting First Amendment rights to free speech and the rights of others to use public spaces that the Occupy protesters take over as part of their tactic.

“I’m not going to get too deep in these waters,” Mueller said, adding that dealing with the Occupy demonstrations has largely been up to local law enforcement, and has been working out differently in different cities.

Despite Mueller’s reluctance to discuss the ongoing protests, Occupy and other protests continued to make headlines in the Bay Area today.

On Wednesday, 95 Occupy SF and Occupy Cal protesters were arrested after they occupied a Bank of America branch just blocks away from where Mueller spoke today. Today, several cities held rallies and marches in solidarity with a day of action planned by Occupy Wall Street.

About a dozen protesters even showed up outside the Commonwealth Club’s front door.

The American Civil Liberties Union, the Asian Law Caucus and the Council on American-Islamic Relations sent a joint letter to Mueller prior to his arrival, demanding Mueller answer questions on alleged racial profiling in FBI practices, and the relationship between the FBI and local law enforcement agencies through the Joint Terrorism Task Force.

Mueller, however, only briefly addressed the topic of civil liberties, saying that it was important to protect the safety of the American people while staying within the rule of law and protecting civil liberties.

When asked how citizens could hold government officials accountable for their civil rights, Mueller said that elected representatives were performing that function.

“I’ll tell you that Congress is not shy of exercising its oversight of FBI and government agencies,” Mueller said.

Scott Morris, Bay City News

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  • reeh

    FBI Agent Pleads Guilty to Child Abuse

    Tuesday February 17, 2004 11:46 PM

    By JOHN SOLOMON
    WASHINGTON (AP) – The former chief internal watchdog at the FBI has pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting a 6-year-old girl and has admitted he had a history of molesting other children before he joined the bureau for what became a two-decade career.

    John H. Conditt Jr., 53, who retired in 2001, was sentenced last week to 12 years in prison in Tarrant County court in Fort Worth, Texas, after he admitted he molested the daughter of two FBI agents after he retired. He acknowledged molesting at least two other girls before he began his law enforcement career, his lawyer said.
    February 22, 2007

    SPOTSYLVANIA, Va. A F.B.I. analyst has been sentenced to seven years in prison for having sex with a young girl in Spotsylvania County.
    Forty-four-year-old Anthony John Lesko entered an Alford plea yesterday in Spotsylvania County Circuit Court to nine counts of felony indecent liberties upon a child. An Alford plea means Lesko doesn’t admit guilt but believes there is enough evidence for a conviction.
    Authorities say Lesko engaged in a sex act with her nine times, beginning when she was nine years old.
    According to the plea, Lesko said he was a victim in the case. He said the girl initiated the contact.

    FBI Agent Accused Of Masturbating In Public

    May 25, 2007 09:02 PM
    FBI Agent Accused Of Masturbating In Public

    Posted by, Marissa Pasquet KOLD News 13 News Editor

    FBI Special Agent Ryan Seese, 34, is facing sex offense charges after a cleaning woman said she found him masturbating in a women’s lavatory on campus, according to a University of Arizona police spokesman.

  • reeh

    FBI Agent Pleads Guilty to Child Abuse

    Tuesday February 17, 2004 11:46 PM

    By JOHN SOLOMON
    WASHINGTON (AP) – The former chief internal watchdog at the FBI has pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting a 6-year-old girl and has admitted he had a history of molesting other children before he joined the bureau for what became a two-decade career.

    John H. Conditt Jr., 53, who retired in 2001, was sentenced last week to 12 years in prison in Tarrant County court in Fort Worth, Texas, after he admitted he molested the daughter of two FBI agents after he retired. He acknowledged molesting at least two other girls before he began his law enforcement career, his lawyer said.
    February 22, 2007

    SPOTSYLVANIA, Va. A F.B.I. analyst has been sentenced to seven years in prison for having sex with a young girl in Spotsylvania County.
    Forty-four-year-old Anthony John Lesko entered an Alford plea yesterday in Spotsylvania County Circuit Court to nine counts of felony indecent liberties upon a child. An Alford plea means Lesko doesn’t admit guilt but believes there is enough evidence for a conviction.
    Authorities say Lesko engaged in a sex act with her nine times, beginning when she was nine years old.
    According to the plea, Lesko said he was a victim in the case. He said the girl initiated the contact.

    FBI Agent Accused Of Masturbating In Public

    May 25, 2007 09:02 PM
    FBI Agent Accused Of Masturbating In Public

    Posted by, Marissa Pasquet KOLD News 13 News Editor

    FBI Special Agent Ryan Seese, 34, is facing sex offense charges after a cleaning woman said she found him masturbating in a women’s lavatory on campus, according to a University of Arizona police spokesman.

  • reeh

    CNN exclusive: FBI misconduct reveals sex, lies and videotape

    By Scott Zamost and Kyra Phillips, CNN Special Investigations Unit
    January 27, 2011

    Washington (CNN) — An FBI employee shared confidential information with his girlfriend, who was a news reporter, then later threatened to release a sex tape the two had made.

    A supervisor watched pornographic videos in his office during work hours while “satisfying himself.”

    And an employee in a “leadership position” misused a government database to check on two friends who were exotic dancers and allowed them into an FBI office after hours.

    These are among confidential summaries of FBI disciplinary reports obtained by CNN, which describe misconduct by agency supervisors, agents and other employees over the last three years.

    Read the FBI documents obtained by CNN

  • reeh

    CNN exclusive: FBI misconduct reveals sex, lies and videotape

    By Scott Zamost and Kyra Phillips, CNN Special Investigations Unit
    January 27, 2011

    Washington (CNN) — An FBI employee shared confidential information with his girlfriend, who was a news reporter, then later threatened to release a sex tape the two had made.

    A supervisor watched pornographic videos in his office during work hours while “satisfying himself.”

    And an employee in a “leadership position” misused a government database to check on two friends who were exotic dancers and allowed them into an FBI office after hours.

    These are among confidential summaries of FBI disciplinary reports obtained by CNN, which describe misconduct by agency supervisors, agents and other employees over the last three years.

    Read the FBI documents obtained by CNN

  • reeh

    The History Channel made a 9 part series called THE MEN WHO KILLED KENNEDY. The last segment was called THE GUILTY MEN
    The History Channel aired this segment a few times and it proved to be the most popular show in the 9 part series.
    The History Channel pulled this show off the air and refuse to sell it.
    It details the evidence for the FBI assassinating President Kennedy. You can watch this program on youtube
    Google the guilty men jfk youtube
    Watch the 45 minute version or click here to watch it
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jgNfQYpS1gQ

    In 1999 the Martin Luther King family sued one of the assassins of Martin Luther King in civil court. They did this because the department of justice would not reopen the investigation after the Martin Luther King family uncovered evidence that the FBI, CIA, and Memphis police had assassinated Dr King. The King family also wanted to enter their evidence into a public record so it could be accessed.The jury returned a verdict in favor of the King family and juror members held a press conference saying it was a clear cut case of the FBI assassinating Dr King. There was a media blackout of the trial. Details of the trial can be viewed here or by reading the book called ACT OF STATE THE EXECUTION OF Martin Luther King
    written by the trial attorney William Pepper.
    http://www.lewrockwell.com/spl2/mlk-conspiracy-exposed.html

  • reeh

    The History Channel made a 9 part series called THE MEN WHO KILLED KENNEDY. The last segment was called THE GUILTY MEN
    The History Channel aired this segment a few times and it proved to be the most popular show in the 9 part series.
    The History Channel pulled this show off the air and refuse to sell it.
    It details the evidence for the FBI assassinating President Kennedy. You can watch this program on youtube
    Google the guilty men jfk youtube
    Watch the 45 minute version or click here to watch it
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jgNfQYpS1gQ

    In 1999 the Martin Luther King family sued one of the assassins of Martin Luther King in civil court. They did this because the department of justice would not reopen the investigation after the Martin Luther King family uncovered evidence that the FBI, CIA, and Memphis police had assassinated Dr King. The King family also wanted to enter their evidence into a public record so it could be accessed.The jury returned a verdict in favor of the King family and juror members held a press conference saying it was a clear cut case of the FBI assassinating Dr King. There was a media blackout of the trial. Details of the trial can be viewed here or by reading the book called ACT OF STATE THE EXECUTION OF Martin Luther King
    written by the trial attorney William Pepper.
    http://www.lewrockwell.com/spl2/mlk-conspiracy-exposed.html