FBI director says releasing Guantanamo detainees into US could harm national security

[JURIST] FBI Director Robert Mueller [official profile; JURIST news archive] told the US House Judiciary Committee [hearing schedule] Wednesday that the transfer of Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archives] detainees to the US could pose a threat to national security, even if they remain in maximum security facilities. He said that they could either participate in terrorist activities [AP report] directly or finance or organize others to do so, even from prison. Mueller also testified that changes the agency has made since 2001 have made it better prepared to address national security [opening statement, PDF] and other concerns. He said that the agency's top three priorities are counterterrorism, counterintelligence, and cyber security, but that they are also focused on financial and other domestic and international crimes. Mueller said that to address these issues, the agency has changed the way it collects and shares intelligence, has employed new technologies, and has improved the way in which it uses agents:

the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) [has] undergone unprecedented transformation in recent years, from developing the intelligence capabilities necessary to address emerging terrorist and criminal threats, to creating the administrative and technological structure necessary to meet our new mission as a national security service.

Today, the FBI is a stronger organization, combining greater intelligence capabilities with a longstanding commitment to protecting the American people from criminal threats. We are also mindful that our mission is not just to safeguard American lives, but also to safeguard American liberties.
The two areas in which the FBI has drawn the most attention recently are in its counterterrorism and financial fraud prevention efforts. Earlier this month, a Department of Justice report [text, PDF] concluded that the FBI was failing to maintain [JURIST report] an accurate terrorist watchlist. In September 2008, the agency defended broader investigation guidelines, which had been criticized [JURIST reports] as allowing ethnic profiling and the violation of civil liberties. In March, Mueller admitted that an increase in financial fraud investigations had drawn resources away [JURIST report] from other investigations, after FBI Deputy Director John Pistole [official profile] said in February that the financial fraud investigations were taking an increasingly important role [JURIST report] at the agency.


 

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