PRINCIPLES REGARDING THE SELECTION OF THE NEXT FBI DIRECTOR
Monday, May 06, 2013
Posted by: Traci Bannon
FBI AGENTS ASSOCIATION:
PRINCIPLES REGARDING THE SELECTION OF THE NEXT FBI DIRECTOR
The FBI Agents Association ("FBIAA") has developed principles that we hope will assist in the effort to
identify the Bureau's next Director. These principles are supported by thousands of FBI Agents who will
serve the next Director.
Principle One: FBI Special Agents Are Central to the Core Mission of the Bureau.
In the wake of 9-11, there was a concerted effort to transfer the Bureau's domestic, intelligence-gathering
responsibilities to a proposed MI5-styled agency. Quashing that effort, Director Mueller effectively
explained the important linkage between criminal investigative principles and experience, intelligence
gathering and analysis, and counterterrorism efforts. As he noted, the over 13,000 active Special Agents
are the backbone of the FBI.
While priorities may change, Agents are as essential to our primary mission of protecting our country as
they are to combating a wide array of threats ranging from Bloods street gangs to mortgage fraud to
Russian sleeper cells. FBI Agents are highly-skilled professionals who have extensive experience
dismantling all forms of criminal networks and investigating a wide variety of threats to American
society. As a former Assistant Director of the FBI's Counterterrorism Division noted, "criminal
prosecutions are in fact the prevention, and provide a tremendous amount of intelligence. So you can't
fragment that [connection between intelligence and law enforcement]."1 The next Director must remain
committed to the centrality of the Special Agent to the Bureau's mission.
Principle Two: Effectively Combating 21st Century Crimes Requires Bridging
Counterterrorism and Traditional Criminal Investigation Efforts.
As the Bureau continues to evolve to meet the demands of a new era, it must relate these new
responsibilities to the Bureau's core ethos: the application of investigative methods learned through over
a century of conducting complex investigations that demand strict adherence to ethics and integrity.
The next Director must continue to enhance the effectiveness of the FBI in the fight against terrorism and
emerging threats without compromising the Bureau's established expertise at both criminal and
counterintelligence investigations. Irrespective of the appellation of "Intelligence Agency,” a potential
goal of any FBI investigation will remain potential prosecution in an American court of law. Confronting
future adversaries will require adherence to our basic traditions and reliance on the expertise of the
Special Agent investigator, while working hand-in-glove with our counterterrorism experts and
Intelligence Community partners.
1 PBS Interview with Former Assistant Director of Counterterrorism Dale Watson, available at:
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/sleeper/interviews/watson.html (last visited on March 2, 2011)
Principle Three: Understanding and Respecting the Work of Agents Enables the Director
to Advocate More Effectively for the Bureau.
The next FBI Director should thoroughly understand and respect the work done by Agents in the field, at
Headquarters and Quantico, and abroad. History has shown that when the senior-level men and women
who lead the Bureau understand Agents—the obstacles we overcome, the burdens our families endure,
and the often life-threatening circumstances we face—the Bureau is a more effective agency. Morale is
higher; communications are clearer; priorities are aligned; and performance of duties is synchronized.
These elements strengthen the Bureau.
If past is prologue, then having walked a mile in our shoes will enable the new Director to advocate more
persuasively for the Bureau. One of the Director's critical roles is speaking for Agents before Congress,
among Administration officials, and through the media to the public. Whether addressing a public
controversy, petitioning Congress for funding, or coordinating efforts with other law enforcement
agencies, our Director must be an expert in communication and must be armed with the knowledge of
what Agents need to perform their work most effectively. This is especially important when
policymakers and officials outside of the Bureau determine what resources are available to the Bureau,
what burdens will be placed on Special Agents, and what our nation's law enforcement priorities will be
in the coming years.
Principle Four: Seeking Agent Input on Issues That Impact Lives in the Field Strengthens
Giving a single voice to thousands of Agents not only requires understanding our work but also listening
to our recommendations. Because Agents live daily with decisions made outside of our zone of influence,
it is critical that the next Director seek our input on issues that impact our lives in the field. Over 13,000
Agents operate in 56 U.S. Field Offices and in more than 63 overseas Legal Attaché Offices. When the
Director speaks on our behalf to key policymakers or makes decisions that will impact the lives of
Agents, he or she must take into consideration the potential consequences to the men and women serving
While some decisions appear to have little—if any—negative consequence when viewed singularly, when
placed against the backdrop of multiple directives, overlapping and burdensome requirements often result.
For example, the FBIAA recently surveyed its membership, and addressing administrative burdens
emerged as a top priority. In the aftermath of 9-11, all parts of the government adopted changes to
policies and priorities that influenced how FBI Agents conduct their investigations. It is important to
consider the collective impact on investigations and prosecutions of such changes. The Bureau is the
world's foremost investigative agency, and it is in everyone's best interest for Agents to spend their time
investigating rather than performing administrative, often redundant, tasks.
The Director is the first line of defense in ensuring that other officials in the government understand the
practical implications of directives aimed at the Bureau. To perform that role effectively, he or she must
understand the impact those policies will have on Agents in the field and whether the policies will
undermine law enforcement efforts. Effective communication with Agents is critical to this exercise