Report: FBI Has Made Huge Gains Since 9/11, But Still Needs Improvement to Counter New Breed of Threats

The J. Edgar Hoover Building, headquarters of the F.B.I., in Washington. (Credit: Brendan Smialowski/Agence-France Presse — Getty Images)
The J. Edgar Hoover Building, headquarters of the F.B.I., in Washington. (Credit: Brendan Smialowski/Agence-France Presse — Getty Images)

The F.B.I. has made great strides since the Sept. 11 attacks in 2001, but urgently needs to improve its intelligence capabilities and hire more linguists to counter the rapidly evolving threats to the United States, according to a report released on Wednesday.

The report by the F.B.I. 9/11 Review Commission said that the bureau needed to enhance its ability to gain information from people and to analyze it, contending that the bureau lags “behind marked advances in law enforcement capabilities.”

“This imbalance needs urgently to be addressed to meet growing and increasingly complex national security threats, from adaptive and increasingly tech-savvy terrorists, more brazen computer hackers, and more technically capable, global cyber syndicates,” the report said.

The F.B.I. has enough linguists in its large offices, but they are in “short supply” throughout the rest of the country, the report said. Often, linguists use a virtual system to communicate remotely with agents and analysts working on cases.

“Hiring additional linguists and integrating them should be a high priority,” the report said.

While the 2004 report of the national 9/11 Commission and subsequent reviews called for major changes to the F.B.I., the report released Wednesday was much less critical. Rather than a rebuke, it amounts to a status-check on the F.B.I. transformation that began in 2001.

Today’s bureau bears little resemblance to that organization, and some of the areas cited for improvement are markedly better than they were years ago. For instance, the report was much less critical about the F.B.I.’s foreign language ability than previous reports were.

The review commission was created by Congress in 2014 to assess the bureau’s progress since the attacks. In particular, the panel examined how the F.B.I. had put into effect the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission.

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SOURCE: MICHAEL S. SCHMIDT
The New York Times

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